Strategies for maximizing the potential of your contact centre workforce.
Proper coaching is the secret ingredient to quality customer service.
Agent coaching builds the skills of your workforce and tightens up the weak areas of your customer service. Management that prioritizes coaching in the contact centre will have flexible and capable agents who are able to deliver a top-notch customer experience. This experience matters, too—Gartner predicted that by 2016, 89 percent of businesses expect to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience. And further research done by The Belding Group in 2015 showed that 92.4 percent of consumer conversations about their customer experience related to the people involved.
That’s right—your agents are the backbone of the customer experience. With that in mind, let’s review a few strategies for effective agent coaching in the contact centre.
Feedback is essential to proper coaching. In fact, you could say that there is no coaching without feedback. However, simply being the boss and being an effective coach aren’t the same thing.
Ineffective bosses will delineate what they employee did wrong, the metrics they failed to reach, and how they’re letting the company down.
Effective coaches still delineate where the employee messed up, but do it in a way that encourages growth. Coaching feedback is always constructive, always supportive and always has the employee’s best interests at heart. After all, the point of feedback is to shape your employees into the best versions of themselves—hard to manage when your workers view management as a fire-breathing dictators.
2. Be Observant
Of course, it’s hard to deliver quality feedback if you aren’t tuned in to the beat of your agents. The best coaches will be there in the trenches, seeing what works, what doesn’t, and what issues keep popping up. Observe the behavior of your agents, and communicate with them about problems they’ve noticed. Avoid micromanaging here—your goal isn’t to correct every little thing you see wrong, but rather, to gain valuable knowledge to inform your broad spectrum training goals.
3. Know Your Team
Interacting with and learning about your team builds rapport and shows your workers that you care about them. You’d be surprised at how powerful a little conversation can be for connecting with your team. Plus, getting to know each team member personally can give you a better understanding of their personal strengths and weaknesses. This can help you staff your centre more efficiently and place employees where their talents can be best used.
4. Ask Questions
The coaching process is all about learning. Yes, agents learn from effective coaching, but the coaches are also learning in turn. There’s an old saying that claims you can’t learn anything new by talking—you learn by listening. Managers should apply this mantra to their coaching outreach. Take a break from the lectures to ask your employees questions every once in a while. They might have ideas, suggestions, or strategies for improvement that they don’t feel comfortable offering on their own. What’s more, your employees will thank you for it. Everyone wants to feel valued by the business they work for, and soliciting their honest opinions can help them feel involved.
5. Leverage Recorded Calls
Calls recorded through your contact centre software are a powerful coaching tool. Hands-on experience can be far more valuable than theoretical lectures, and using real-time information found from actual customer calls is an effective way to address specific issues:
- Agent skill: Recorded calls let managers easily assess how adept their agents are while on the line.
- Tonality: Recordings capture a wealth of information, including the hard to measure stuff like tone of voice. Variables like these can slowly eat away at customer service metrics. Hard to track variables like tone of voice are as essential as any other part of your service.
- Customer Satisfaction: Previous calls let you hear exactly what the customer was saying and how they felt about their interaction.
For added effect, let your agent take the coaching role and have them critique their own performance on each call. Having each agent recognize and identify their shortcomings will help the behaviors stick far better than another dry performance assessment.
Contact Centre Leaders
Although some agents may be born with the innate skills that make customer service experts, most need a little help throughout the process. It’s up to management to take ownership of their contact centres and ensure that each agent receives the training they need. Get involved with your staff, learn about them, and let them contribute to contact centre policies. Joining these strategies with enough hands-on experience can create a service team unrivalled by any other contact centre.