How to improve call center agent performance through coaching
It is becoming increasingly important to improve call center agent performance. Especially considering a recent Zendesk study, which found that around 80% of consumers would rather do business with a competitor after more than one bad customer service experience. Keeping your customers happy should be the ultimate goal to ensure the success of your business.
Though there are many things to consider when it comes to good or bad service, call center agent performance is of the utmost importance. You need to ensure that every interaction, whether via phone, email or chat, your team undertakes — that the service they provide is excellent. Not what you consider excellent — but what the consumer does.
But, improving agent performance in the call center, minimizing overhead costs, and enhancing your quality assurance can be complex. Now add more challenges such as staff turnover, accurate reporting and analytics, and workforce optimization. Team leaders face a challenging uphill climb to drive performance in a call center.
Before we delve into how to improve agent performance to achieve superior customer care results, let’s look at what it actually is.
What goes into call center agent performance?
From cleaner to CEO, every job has specific objectives that need to be achieved, and call center agents are no different.
When considering ways to improve call center customer service, it is essential to look at how you’d measure their progress to help them achieve their goals.
There are many things that impact customer satisfaction scores and indicate your call center’s overall efficiency and productivity. Here are some popular call center performance metrics to track:
But, if there’s one universal truth when it comes to running a call center, it’s this: the list of KPIs you could measure is almost endless. So, the question becomes: How and where do you draw the line?
How do you identify those that really matter? The ones that will help you to deliver on experience, efficiency, and satisfaction? While KPI’s is one thing – clearly defining your goals is another. And goals win the game! If your KPI doesn’t help you to achieve your overall goal – it’s just noise.
How do you measure performance in a call center?
Your call center agents carry out many different tasks every day, from handling customer interactions to reporting and attending meetings or training. To measure call center performance efficiency, you have to measure both the amount of effort you put in and what you get out of it.
Call center managers should have volumes of data from the KPIs to develop their call center performance improvement plan. But do they have the time to input all the measurable metrics into a spreadsheet? And how do you manage or improve what you cannot measure accurately?
Despite access to all of the data you need, with no useful way to gain insights or take actionable next steps – all that information becomes pretty meaningless. You need to find an actionable way to assess and track performance because that is worth its weight in gold!
Kaizo tracks over 50 different metrics, and can help you measure both team and individual progress. The Agent Scorecard shows you metrics for each active agent and updates in real-time.
But our Scorecards can also do so much more to help you improve call center agent performance. The Team Scorecard gives you an overview of how your team is performing, making it easier to spot both top and bottom performers.
But – now that you have access to all this information how do you put it into action to improve call center productivity?
How to improve call center agent performance?
You could follow many strategies — from improved metrics and tracking to empowering your agents. But, providing them with the right tools and coaching them on their journey is as important as the right customer service software.
Those in contact center performance management roles know that a lot of time and energy gets invested in customer service training and customer service coaching programs.
But while training focuses on sharing knowledge and teaching skills, coaching reinforces the skills taught. It complements customer service training and helps to drive performance improvements, and boosts motivation.
Defined by MIT as a “partnership between the manager and employee that creates a shared understanding about what needs to be achieved and how it is to be achieved,” coaching is a powerful performance management tool.
The idea of a partnership in this definition is what makes it interesting. It is a unique relationship — not quite a hierarchy where your colleagues are seen as sub(below)-ordinates. Not quite a democracy where everyone has an equal say. It is a delicate power balance based on mutual respect and understanding.
Finding the right balance is the key to making your team more successful, and more loyal. Working together for the greater good, leaving ego at the door – because your agents are the foundation of your brand’s customer service strategy.
Call center performance tips
Minor improvements in almost any call center process can significantly increase efficiency. Luckily, we have a few ideas to improve your call center performance.
Develop a strategic call center QA framework
A strategic QA framework will help you evaluate agent performance and training, collaborate effectively, understand the customer experience, and increase operational efficiency.
Optimize call center agent workflows
Optimizing your workflow is absolutely necessary to effectively handle customer support. It will provide a unified, automated experience that will reduce processing time – thus increasing call center productivity.
Find the right people
There are many desirable skills to look for in call center agents (and managers). But, it is equally important to note that skills can be taught – and with the right coaching, you can tease these behaviors from any of your agents. Skilled agents will need both communication and problem-solving skills, with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence so they can respond with empathy.
Fill the gaps
Technology can be incredible. It can make life so much easier! It can also be frustrating if it’s not intuitive, easy to navigate, and difficult to master. This is why choosing the right software is so important. Because analytics is key to improving call center performance. It helps you spot areas for improvement. You can monitor contact center performance and use technology to analyze your customers’ key issues/challenges. The data will allow you to see the gaps and find ways to improve agents’ performance going forward.
Invest in training
Customer needs are always changing – and your performance management strategies will need to change and adapt to keep up. Customer expectations are getting higher as culture shifts to information at your fingertips.
That is why 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as essential when they have a customer service question. 60% of customers define “immediate” as 10 minutes or less.
Continuous training, whether in new technologies and procedures or developing advanced skills, ensures your call center agents are efficient.
Focus on coaching
Training your call center agents with the skills they need on how to improve their performance is only half the battle. Providing consistent coaching gets your agents comfortable with a feedback process. It can open your customer service agents up to receiving both negative and positive feedback.
Establishing a continuous feedback loop with your agents creates a learning environment. It makes it easier for them to ask questions, clarify concepts, or learn new ways of doing things. It helps them feel more engaged and valued and will boost their performance.
If you have Kaizo tracking your team’s performance, you have a handy feature where you can identify coachable moments when any of your agents need help, advice, or guidelines. Mistakes happen – but they don’t need to be repeated if you can identify them early enough.
The people who do the work daily – are usually the ones who know when there is a broken process or procedure. After all, they are in the trenches, taking the calls and listening to the customers. Just as they learn from you – you need to be open to their feedback too. Implementing agent ideas will increase their efficiency and productivity and boost their morale.
Allow agents to specialize. It allows them to become an expert in their field, promoting job satisfaction. It’s a great way to promote career progression while also providing them with the training and opportunity to answer customer queries better.
Make it competitive
You can use gamification to improve agent performance. Gamification is a strategy that uses gaming principles to achieve real-world results. You can use gamification to challenge your call center agents to outperform their peers. It will improve employee engagement and make work just a little bit more fun. And let’s face it – who doesn’t have just a bit of a competitive spirit? Especially if it can help you improve performance.
KPIs, goals, and daily tasks sound so corporate and boring. Being sent on a Mission though — that’s exciting. And when you have fun at work, you’re just more productive.
In our Mission Center you can set Missions for your agents, aligned with their KPIs and your company goals. Every Mission your agent completes, lets them level up, and gives you the opportunity to provide real-time feedback on their performance.
Increasing agent performance can dramatically improve the results of your call center. To stand out from the crowd, you need to make your customer experience exceptional. Continuously training and coaching your call center agents can help you achieve it. Combine that with unified and actionable real-time insights, QA, and gamification, and you’ve got a winning recipe – but we just call it Kaizo.