The contact center is frequently the primary point of contact between a company and its customers, both before and after a purchase is made. The performance of a call center is largely dependent on the competence and professionalism of its agents.
Therefore, it is crucial to provide agents with adequate training, tools, and techniques to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.
With the rise of digital technology, there has been a growing gap in the skills required by contact center agents. In addition to basic communication skills, agents now need to be proficient in building relationships with customers, multitasking, and problem-solving.
How is call center coaching evolving?
According to a McKinsey survey of senior customer-care executives, 94 percent of respondents anticipated an increase in the skills required of their contact center agents over the next five years.
Despite this growing need for improved customer handling capabilities, call center coaches still face challenges in developing the real-time skills of agents, particularly those working in multi-location teams.
To address these challenges and achieve real-time improvements, call center coaching is becoming an increasingly essential approach. This activity involves providing agents with feedback, performance assessments, and best-practice trends to help enhance the skill set necessary for their role.
While coaching sessions differ from traditional annual performance reviews, they are intended to improve performance moving forward rather than being a retrospective evaluation of past performance.
It is important to note that call center coaching should not replace quality management evaluations but should complement them as part of the overall quality management process.
The purpose of coaching is to offer customized and comprehensive feedback that motivates agents to meet the increasing demands of customers and provides practical advice on how to continue improving to reach their full potential.
Agent coaching is an ongoing process that has positive impacts on various aspects of your business and staff. It encompasses training on call center software, customer interactions, soft skill enhancement, and real-time issue resolution.
Although coaching call center agents in multiple locations may seem challenging, we have put together the most successful strategies to transform your teams into expert customer experience professionals, such as:
- Establishing strategic objectives
The initial step in coaching is to establish a shared objective that inspires all team members to collaborate towards a common goal, which is to meet customer demands and enhance customer satisfaction.
In addition, it is crucial to work together with each contact center agent to establish personalized goals for them across various business locations that align with their strengths and weaknesses. This will create a sense of accountability and motivation to achieve both sets of goals.
It is important to recognize that every agent requires guidance, regardless of their level of expertise. A good strategy would be to offer coaching to all groups, including top performers, while also keeping an eye on those employees with the potential to become top performers.
- Give constructive feedback
If you want your agents to take your constructive criticism positively and implement the suggested changes, employee recognition can be a powerful tool.
Recognition of employees has always been an essential aspect of effective management and coaching.
According to a study, 37% of employees believe that recognition is the best way to support them. Therefore, starting the coaching session by acknowledging something that the agent has recently improved upon or is consistently doing well can serve as a great starting point.
Your customer satisfaction scores have declined by 34% this month” can be more useful than saying “Your customer satisfaction scores are dropping this month”.
Presenting agents with factual information about their performance can help them comprehend the seriousness of the situation and allow them to measure the extent of their performance shift, making it easier for them to identify areas of improvement.
- Select the appropriate tools
It is commonly acknowledged that the quality of a contact center depends on the competence of its staff. To ensure team engagement and improvement, it is crucial to provide sufficient attention using efficient call center coaching methods along with appropriate tools.
Having a simple means of assessing call center agents is critical for accurately measuring performance, identifying problem areas, and discovering opportunities for achieving better outcomes.
It becomes nearly impossible to analyze every call manually when thousands of calls are received, making it challenging to draw reliable conclusions and establish goals based on the findings.
The most effective coaches recognize the importance of providing attention to their contact center staff and utilizing the proper coaching techniques and tools to sustain team engagement and improvement.
Manually reviewing thousands of calls makes it nearly impossible to have complete visibility into each call, which hinders the ability to diagnose problems, set goals, and extrapolate results.
To address this issue, the best coaches leverage a call center coaching tool that records and transcribes each conversation automatically.
AI identifies key phrases to track agent progress with minimal effort on the coach’s part. The tool also identifies the top and low performers, indicating coaching opportunities and allowing coaches to create programs from the top performers’ calls. This ideal coaching platform tailors coaching to each agent’s specific needs and identifies problems that could affect revenue.
- Utilize Automated Quality Assurance
Call centers cannot manually monitor all recorded calls, despite their best intentions. When monitoring is done manually, it can lead to inaccurate assessments of an agent’s strengths and weaknesses, making it challenging to provide effective coaching.
Furthermore, manual call auditing may result in an inadequate coaching program, with supervisors focusing on the wrong areas and missing opportunities for significant improvements.
- Promote Self-Evaluation
Encouraging self-evaluation can be a powerful tool for improving skills in a contact center environment. By encouraging sales reps to evaluate their own performance and set goals based on their observations, coaches can speed up the learning process and enhance their motivation to improve.
Asking agents to conduct comprehensive self-assessments before coaching sessions is a great way to promote self-awareness and build self-confidence, ultimately leading to more consistent sales. Agents who are able to assess their own strengths and weaknesses become more self-aware and can be more profitable for the business in the long run.
- Collecting meaningful feedback
As a coach or manager, you hold significant influence over your employees’ work-life and job satisfaction. Effective management requires both knowledge and practice.
To ensure open communication and cater to your employees’ job satisfaction, it’s essential to gather information on which management style works for everyone and the best way to communicate with each individual.
According to a recent study, 2 in 5 employees have left their jobs due to their managers.
If you don’t gather enough feedback, you may unknowingly leave your contact center agents dissatisfied, which could result in a drop in their performance.
Therefore, requesting feedback from your call center coaching programs is as crucial as offering feedback to change behaviors, improve productivity, and evaluate performance.
Once you have valuable feedback, it’s essential to act on it. This will motivate your agents to go the extra mile to serve your customers, which will ultimately improve customers’ perception of your brand.
- Paying attention to the well-being
The shift to remote work has imposed new routines and increased pressure on contact center agents to achieve their quotas, leading to significant emotional and mental stress.
A recent survey by the American Psychological Association indicates that 81% of respondents consider mental health support from their employers an important factor when evaluating potential work opportunities.
In light of this, it is crucial to prioritize employee well-being. One way to do this is by establishing boundaries and specific work hours for your team to minimize burnout. Knowing when agents should check internal messages and when they can sign off can go a long way in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Additionally, incentivizing performance can motivate and retain your agents. Custom incentives can also be set for multi-location businesses with varying performance KPIs. When each location meets its performance goal, everyone receives a reward, promoting teamwork and collaboration towards a shared objective.
The call center industry is currently experiencing a noticeable shift, as managers are increasingly focusing on providing timely, informed, efficient, and automated coaching.
Effective call center coaching can benefit both agents and customers by helping agents develop skills, learn from top performers, and improve their management of customer interactions. This can lead to significant improvements in a call center’s critical operational metrics, such as AHT, FCR, and CSAT scores, making coaching more meaningful. When agents and customers are both satisfied, it can result in reduced customer complaints, improved agent productivity, and increased profits.