Coaching call center agents can be challenging and time-consuming with uneven results. But it doesn’t have to be. A call center is only as successful as its agents. To achieve long-term success, the focus should be on continually coaching your agents. A dedicated, consistent approach combined with sound knowledge is desirable for optimal coaching. The main goals of coaching include training agents to reply promptly to customer requests, complying with quality and compliance metrics and avoiding sounding scripted. The road to improvement is more complex than following a playbook. Identifying agents’ strengths and weaknesses is vital for success. Equally important is identifying roadblocks that hinder performance improvement and working with agents to overcome these obstacles.
1. Add Customer Experience to Agents’ Performance Scorecards
Positive customer experience is critical to call center operations. The first step to improving customer experience is heightening agent awareness about the critical nature of the customer journey and their interactions with customers. By reinforcing key elements during training sessions and incorporating customer experience as a key performance indicator on scorecards, organizations can effectively connect the dots between the agent and the customer. Using incentives to encourage strong performance is crucial. For instance, consider presenting rewards and recognition during company events and implementing remedial measures and improvement plans when agent performance is sub-par.
2. Take “Customers as Coach” Approach
As experienced and proficient as your supervisor and team leads may be at providing performance feedback, it is the customers’ direct comments that often have the biggest impact on agent development. Use the following elements to create and implement a comprehensive guide for improving agent interactions:
3. Insert Time Gaps between Audits to Optimize Feedback
Allow agents time to adjust their behavior once a feedback is provided and an action plan is established. Be sure there are reasonable intervals between quality audits to assess if the agent feedback provided during the audit is being implemented.
4. Allow Agents to Self-Evaluate and Calibrate
Agents are typically quite critical of their own performance. The best way to identify strengths and weaknesses is to have agents observe their interactions with customers. Supervisors and quality coaches should fortify self-assessments with performance calibrations to ensure agents truly understand what is expected of them in order to deliver optimal customer experience.
5. Check-in on Progress toward Goal
Effective coaching requires more than a Set-it-and-forget-it approach. Conduct performance reviews periodically to maintain focus on KPIs. The review process will help determine the distribution of incentives, rewards and recognize superior agent performance.
6. Keep Updated with Process Re-verification Training
If you don’t challenge your agents, some may be prone to stagnate and settle into a routine. Given the ever-evolving list of policies, procedures, new products and services, it’s imperative to assess how well agents understand changes and are able to effectively communicate them to customers. Process re-verification training should be conducted regularly to ensure agents are proficient in the products, policies and procedures they support.
7. Incorporate a Close Loop Feedback System
Many organizations incorporate a close loop system to transparently share feedback from customers and supervisors. Another option is to employ quality coach audits to provide a simple, holistic feedback system. Combining all these components is important for action planning and closing the feedback loop.
8. Leveraging the Power of “Ideal Call and Chat” Archives
A great way to show agents how to improve is the use of recordings of Call, email and chat transcripts from past interactions that demonstrate a desired skill or behavior you’d like the agent to emulate. A repository containing best in class calls and chats is an effective tool to provide coaching and training to agents. Be advised that some agents may not show improvement despite being coached on specific behaviors. This may mean that although the agent understands where they fell short, they don’t understand exactly how these behaviors are demonstrated.
eClerx Customer Experience team deploys Strategic Monitoring through Automation and Robotics Technology (SMART).
Coaching is a valuable tool to empower call center agents while allowing for the collaboration necessary to provide outstanding customer service. eClerx’ s eight strategies can help businesses maximize coaching efforts, support call center agents in achieving their goals and ultimately enhance the customer journey. Equipping call center agents with knowledge updates, strengthening existing skills and applying new ones optimizes customer experience, compliance, and productivity.
About the Author
Head of Customer Experience
Ramnik Tiwana has 18+ years of experience in the ITeS industry working for leading Indian BPOs and KPOs.
After 14+ years in the Operational Delivery roles for US, UK, Canadian, and APAC processes, leading large and diversified teams, he now specializes in Client Engagements, helping businesses improve customer experience, quality, and compliance, business metrics through quality monitoring, case studies and automation.