Call it "T-learning." FAMILY Dollar, a retail chain with 42,000 employees at 6,000 stores nationwide, is now providing part of its new-hire orientation over the telephone. Realizing many of its employees don't have access to the Internet at work or at home, the retail chain rolled out an automated phone line that enables new hires to register, order name badges, listen to training on company policy and receive company updates. In the system, the new employees confirm that they've received training, and that data is stored so Family Dollar can monitor the progress.
To conduct the training, Family Dollar teamed with McLean,Va.-based Angel.com, a provider of on-demand call center and interactive voice response (IVR) systems. The Family Dollar application relies on voice prompts (Spanish coming soon) to guide callers through interactive menus and capture employee information.
The system allows Family Dollar employees to provide information using speech recognition, and is designed to capture and distribute this information in a more timely and accurate manner than a paper-based system, says Del Bristol, vice president of HRIS for Family Dollar.
"Using a phone transaction is a lot simpler than going out and training someone on a new computer platform." Bristol says. So far, he says feedback from the Angel.com application has been positive.
"With thousands of new employees across the country, I think [Angel.com] was a logical choice for Family Dollar," says Michael Zirngibl, president and CEO of Angel.com. In training new employees on company policy, for example, he says there's an advantage of speech over written content. "On the Web, it's very easy to just click a box that says 'agree to terms' without actually reading the information. On the phone, you know they're hearing the message loud and clear." —J.K.
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