"83% of high-performing service agents say they get the training they need to do their job well compared to only 52% of underperformers." - Salesforce
Remember the old story about the school in the forest where all animals were tested in the same way?
Do you think asking an agent with a low average handle time (AHT) to resolve customers' query faster makes sense? Is it justified to expect the same output from all agents?
Instead of giving all agents the same training materials, a personalized and tailored coaching program catering to each agent's strengths and weaknesses is more suitable.
Let's look at implementing an effective coaching system in your call center.
Before learning that, let's understand the importance of call center coaching and the obstacles in improving efficiency.
Why is Call Center Coaching Important?
No person gets to the top without anyone to train them. Even Luke was trained by Yoda before facing Darth Vader.
Similarly, every agent needs to receive sufficient training before they reach the peak of their performance. Well-implemented call center coaching techniques can improve agent performance as well as see an increase in customer satisfaction scores.
Improve Overall Agent Performance
When agents receive feedback about their shortcomings, they can strive to make improvements. Immediate and actionable feedback shows agents what needs to be improved.
Increase Customer Satisfaction Levels
When agents learn from their mistakes and improve their performance, changes are seen in customer interactions. This helps customers resolve their problems faster, which in turn leads to satisfied customers.
Now that we've seen the different ways how coaching helps contact centers let us look at some of the obstacles in making an efficient call center coaching program.
What are the Obstacles to Improve Call Center Coaching?
Most call centers still implement a manual coaching strategy where auditors do it with the help from the call center manager. This method has a lot of hurdles that reduce its efficiency.
Let's look at a few of them.
1. The Time-Consuming Nature of Coaching
"Managers spend 50% of their time preparing for coaching" - McKinsey
Preparing the material and planning for coaching takes much more time than delivering a coaching session. This makes it really difficult to implement a successful coaching schedule.
If an individual coaching session took half an hour, how much time would it take if that manager had 15 members in his team? What about 25?
A coaching strategy that depends on manually imparting coaching sessions isn't scalable.
3. Putting a Pause on Operations
Planning individual sessions takes up a lot of time. On the other hand, if coaching sessions are taken in groups, the customer service team runs with fewer members, resulting in a pileup of customer calls.
When it comes to new agents, this doesn't pose much of a problem because they still haven't begun dealing with customers on a frequent basis.
4. Lack of Immediate Feedback
In the manual coaching process, auditors go through call recordings and then note down details pertaining to the agent's performance. The problem with this method is that the feedback takes a long time to reach the agent.
When an agent receives feedback about a call they answered two weeks back, do you think they remember that specific call? The high call volume makes delayed feedback ineffective.
In fact, a LinkedIn survey conducted by Convin suggests that about 65% don’t believe call center agents can be evaluated and given daily feedback.
Feedback is effective only if the agent receives it soon after the customer interaction is over.
Now that we've seen and understood the drawbacks of a manual coaching process let's look at how to make coaching more effective.
Results first, payment later.
How to Create an Effective Coaching System?
It's evident that there are many hurdles in implementing an effective manual coaching strategy. Let's look at ways to make coaching effective in your contact center.
1. Switch to Automated Coaching
The biggest change that can make coaching effective is switching to automated call center software that has coaching abilities. These tools evaluate call recordings, and feedback is sent to agents at the end of the day.
This directly impacts an agent's progress as they receive constructive feedback about all their interactions with customers.
2. Providing Personalized Coaching Sessions
As illustrated above, there are problems with a generic one-size fits all approach in call center coaching. Agents should be provided feedback that caters to their strengths and weaknesses.
With automated coaching tools, agents can now be assigned customer calls from top-performing agents. This helps them to compare it with their own performance and identify what needs to change.
This approach is much more practical than having a one-on-one coaching session with a manager. Agents can understand their mistakes faster by listening to top calls rather than a session that talks about the general practices to be followed.
This technique can also help agents to improve their performance by listening to a few calls and practicing them properly.
3. Consistent Support Across all Communication Channels
"75% of customers expect a consistent experience across any channel they use to reach the company" - Salesforce
Customer service has become truly omnichannel and every channel is being used to reach out to the company. Agents should be trained to deliver consistent and excellent service irrespective of the channel they're assigned to.
If an agent treats each channel differently, it'll affect their performance. This requires them to have more coaching sessions on delivering consistent customer experiences.
4. Detect Performance Issues in Real-Time
Any feedback given to an agent can only be actionable if conveyed as soon as possible. The feedback becomes obsolete the later it is informed.
With automated quality assurance software, any inconsistencies in performance can be flagged immediately. When these are brought to an agent's notice as soon as they finish a call, it becomes easier to fix them.
5. Take Customer Feedback into Consideration
"79% of consumers who used online feedback to complain about a poor customer experience were ignored" - Harris Interactive
Customers don't often wait to fill out the survey and provide feedback. But when a customer is taking out time and providing feedback, it’s hard to ignore.
These customers often have important things to point out that could help elevate the performance of all contact center agents. It could be something minute, like the agent missing something or even a major problem like huge waiting times.
Depending on the gravity of these mentioned issues, contact center management should prioritize this and inform agents on how to overcome these problems.
6. Follow-Up with Agents
Once a coaching strategy has been put in place, constant follow-ups must happen. These follow-ups help agents to understand their progress and assess the effectiveness of the coaching program.
Instead of individually following up with agents, they could be partnered with a team member. This helps both agents to be accountable to their partner and ensure that their progress doesn't remain stagnant.
7. Keep Agents Updated with Product Updates
Imagine a customer reaches out to your contact center with a query about a new feature, but the agent is hearing about it for the first time. Isn't that a bad customer experience?
This is why agents should always be informed of any changes to the product or service being sold.
Creating the Right Coaching Strategy
Coaching call center agents is essential for the success of any call center.
Implementing a manual coaching strategy is difficult and has multiple obstacles. Instead, there is call center software with coaching capabilities.
Having the right call center coaching strategy helps in performance improvement and can help in increasing customer satisfaction.
Try personalized agent coaching for enhanced call center performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is coaching in a call center?
Call center coaching is the process of training agents to improve their performance. There are various types of coaching such as one on one sessions and general coaching sessions.
2. Why is call center coaching important?
Call center coaching can help agents to improve their experience delivery. If implemented properly, it can also boost customer experience in a huge manner.
3. What are the coaching objectives at the call center?
Coaching objectives can be based on individual parameters as well as overall parameters. Some of the metrics then can be improved using coaching include first contact resolution (FCR), average handle time (AHT), and customer satisfaction (CSAT).
4. What are the hurdles in call center coaching?
The manual strategy of call center coaching is time-consuming and not deployable at scale.
5. How to do proper coaching in a call center?
One of the best ways to increase the effectiveness of coaching is by assigning personalized sessions for each agent instead of the same session throughout the entire call center. Other techniques include switching to automated strategies and considering customer feedback.
6. What is the role of a call center performance coach?
A call center performance coach is responsible for planning coaching sessions and providing the material for the agents. They ensure that the agent improves their performance with the help of the coaching sessions.
7. How can I improve myself as a call center agent?
Every agent needs to understand their areas for improvement and focus on improving them by understanding what needs to be done better. They should focus on assigned coaching sessions and figure out where things are going wrong.