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Cough or Infection: 7 Call Center Agent Coaching Tips

For anyone who has kids, you know that a cough is not always just a cough. Sometimes there is an infection in the lungs, which requires more than a Vicks rub on the chest and a cough suppressant.

Similarly, call center agent behavior can be much like that. Symptoms of problems are omnipresent. Low CSAT scores, high rates of absenteeism, low conversion or close rates, ugly phone etiquette. That’s just a sampling, but the main questions are, how do you know which symptoms are “one-offs” and which ones need a deeper dive? Furthermore, how do you treat them so the corrective action sticks?

Regardless if your call center is focused on collections, revenue recovery, sales or customer service it’s likely you have had coaching sessions with agents and thought afterward, “ok, we are good now, they get it”, only to realize 2 days later that the symptoms are back. It is demotivating for everyone and resources have been wasted.

When analyzing the process of improving an agent’s behavior or productivity outcomes, here are 7 steps to help guide your team through that process:

Make the Optics Readily Available and Relevant

Have you ever played darts without a dartboard? First question, where is the bullseye? The same thing with an agent’s activity in a call center, they need to understand the specific objectives. By making their goals precise it allows for objective self-evaluation by the agent and their up-line supervisor.  Dynamic Score Cards are an effective way to provide this. This is the foundation of determining who needs coaching assistance and who doesn’t.

Score Cards Directly Tied to Coaching

Score Cards are an ideal way to align agent activity to company objectives, but here is where inefficiencies can start to take place. A Supervisor or Team Leader in most cases ends up coaching and 9 times out of 10 their hair is on fire. It is critical that supervisors can immediately enter a coaching session directly from Score Cards. This way there is no gap is decision making and the supervisor can coach instantly on a goal, KPI or objective which is also apparent in the Allied Global BPO Case Study.

Coaching Directly Tied to a Gamified Learning Management System

Here is the infection in the lungs part. Agents who burn a Supervisors time on the same issues over and over are resource hogs. Multiple coaching occurrences on the same issue mean there is a bigger problem going on. Being able to fluidly take an agent directly from a coaching session to a lesson or course is often required and should be handled directly from the same interface where the coaching is taking place. This level of efficiency will assist in maintaining high agent engagement in the process.

Track Results

Once the behavioral modification route is complete, regardless if it is a “one-off” coaching session or more of a “deeper dive” into a lesson, it is critical to track the outcome of those coaching/training efforts. From the coaching interface, it’s important to track an agent’s activity during and after the coaching efforts. This is a great form of self-evaluation for the supervisor, as well as testing their coaching effectiveness.

Feedback Loop to a Supervisors Up-Line Manager

Effective coaching and continuous process improvement are also aided by a post-coaching employee survey. It’s critical for agent motivation, especially with the generational spectrum skewing millennial,( How to Prepare for the Millennial Tsunami )that they feel part of the process. Much of the coaching process involves one-way communication, but providing an opportunity for agents to give feedback on their coaching session and having that feedback bubble up to the up-line manager of the supervisor also gives insight into what opportunities exist to improve coaching across the community.

Follow Up

Riches are in the follow-up. It is very important to stay connected to the coaching and training efforts. Setting follow-up notifications within the coaching interface enrich the likelihood that the efforts made into agent modifications will be sustained.

Reward

Make training sexy, fun and motivating. Provide intrinsic and extrinsic rewards as part of the coaching and training process, it will help accelerate learning, breed a highly engaged culture of behavior improvement and generate significant results, which can be seen in the Allied Global BPO Case Study, where leveraging both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators through gamification was beneficial.

Keeping agents motivated and engaged is a difficult task unto itself. Coaching them to improve their results is even more difficult. By leveraging a unified solution that handles agents scorecards, coaching, follow-up, tracking, feedback and rewards it is possible to make improving behavioral outcomes and production in the call center a natural extension of daily operations.