In order to learn and grow, customer service agents need top-notch feedback. It is an essential part of the quality assurance framework for your call center. Quality feedback in a call center can be tricky, though.
As a manager, you need to be mindful of the words you use, your tone, and the timing of your feedback. Using a customer service QA checklist will help you provide quality feedback that works. Gallup estimates managers account for around 70% of the variance in employee engagement. This boils down to the fact that an employee’s level of engagement is most affected by their direct manager.
To help you set your customer service team up for success, we’ve rounded up our best call center quality feedback examples that work.
Why quality feedback is important in customer service
Call centers are under pressure to deliver excellent customer service. Achieving that goal requires a solid understanding of what’s working and what’s not, along with a clear idea of how to improve performance.
The problem, however, is that call center employees often have little insight into their own performance. Without this knowledge, they can’t achieve higher levels of success — and the call center itself suffers.
That’s where quality feedback comes in.
Quality feedback in a call center is critical for success. Managers can help agents improve their skills by using authentic and consistent communication. Bob Nelson, author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees says:
“While money is important to employees, what tends to motivate them to perform and to perform at higher levels is the thoughtful, personal kind of recognition that signifies true appreciation for a job well done.”
If agents aren’t receiving feedback most of the time, they will likely not think they have room to improve. If you only give negative feedback inconsistently, morale is going to be low. Without positive feedback given consistently, employees may not be engaged and may not wish to build skills to improve. Implementing regular feedback can also help cut your turnover by around 14.9%.
So what is the magic formula for giving effective feedback? Let’s take a look at a few tips.
3 tips on how to give feedback to an agent
The greatest customer service leads are coaches, not scorekeepers.
It’s a lot easier to keep score than to coach, though. So the temptation is great for call center managers to focus on keeping score: measuring how well their agents follow processes, and how quickly they get through their work.
But this approach isn’t effective in improving the customer experience.
In fact, it can be counterproductive: when customer service reps are overly focused on the metrics that matter to their bosses, they might miss opportunities to delight customers or make sure issues are fully resolved.
To drive real improvement in the customer experience, managers need to spend more time coaching their agents on quality.
To give helpful feedback you’ll need to make sure your feedback is:
- Carefully and correctly phrased
- Accompanied by the right non-verbal cues
- Timely and consistent
We’ll take a closer look at these tips and give some QA feedback examples so you can measure what you’re currently doing and see where you need to make changes.
1. How to phrase feedback
Phrasing is important in all communication, but particularly when you’re giving someone feedback about their work. Agents likely don’t only want to hear about their shortcomings at work, so being mindful of how you give feedback will help them be more receptive.
Our top tips for phrasing feedback are:
- Stay neutral: Your feedback needs to focus on concrete, measurable data rather than personal opinions. Emotional feedback can make your agents feel unreceptive and can’t be used to make performance improvements. Data-driven, neutral feedback improves the efficiency of 1:1 meetings by pinpointing areas that need improvement clearly.
- Go beyond results. At the end of the day everyone in the call center wants to increase customer satisfaction, but to give quality feedback you need to discuss agents’ processes, soft skills, compliance, and outcomes.
💡 You can incentivize productivity by giving feedback about personal goals. If an agent sets a goal to take three eLearning courses and exceeds it, use that as an opportunity to celebrate and give positive feedback.
- Praise first, then provide constructive feedback. Count your agents’ wins before diving into areas where they need to improve. Your feedback will be better received and your employees will feel more engaged and valued.
- Be specific and data-driven. In order for criticism to be constructive, it has to be specific and actionable.
💡 Rather than telling an agent “You need to be friendlier,” you may want the feedback to be more measurable. You could try, “You sometimes forget to give them a friendly greeting. This past week it happened 11 times. Try asking the customer how their day is going. Here is a script to help. ”
- Give agents a sense of ownership. You can empower your agents to improve their performance by making the feedback process a conversation. Ask them questions to get them thinking, and truly listen to what they have to say. You can get a lot of good ideas about how to improve the call center by listening to the people who are working in it every day.
💡 You could ask, “What can I do to help you work more productively?” Another great question is, “How would you prefer to get feedback about your work?”
- Back up feedback with real-life examples. Beyond giving concrete feedback driven by data, give agents examples so that they can picture how your feedback applies to their daily work.
2. What your non-verbal cues are saying
Your non-verbal cues are just as important as how you phrase your feedback. Feelings can change your tone and body language, so it’s important to practice giving feedback in a calm, neutral emotional state. You’re only human and bound to have feelings about your work. Giving feedback can be just as tough for managers as receiving it can be for agents. If you find yourself with escalated feelings, try taking some deep breaths until you feel calm again.
Agents’ non-verbal cues can also tell you how receptive they will be to your feedback.
💡If an agent just dealt with an angry customer, he or she may have heightened emotions. If you notice the agent speaking louder than usual, breathing heavily, or has teary eyes, it’s a good idea to wait until that agent has a moment to calm down before giving feedback.
3. How to give feedback on the right timeline
Once you’re sure of how you’ll phrase and deliver feedback, you’ll need to work out a good timeline. When you make feedback part of the regular workflow it’s expected and less likely to give employees a sense of dread. Here’s the best timing for different types of feedback.
- Give regular, timely feedback. If you’re giving positive feedback it’s best to give it right away.
💡If you gave an agent a plan to improve giving friendly greetings and you hear them actively following the script, you could give positive feedback right away like a thumbs up or a smile while they’re on the phone. If someone needs constructive feedback related to a specific negative incident, give them time to cool off, but deliver the feedback while it’s still fresh in their memory.
- Follow-up after feedback. Set the expectation that you’ll follow up after giving feedback.
💡If you gave the employee feedback on giving customers a friendly greeting, set a reasonable goal together. If the agent missed giving 11 friendly greetings in a week, set a goal to miss less than two over the next week. Let them know you’ll check in again to see if they’ve met the goal or how you can further help them meet it if they didn’t.
How to give call center quality feedback that works
Now that you know what to say, how to say it, and when to give feedback, let’s talk about some best practices.
Take advantage of call center quality assurance software
If you want to provide effective, timely feedback to your team, software is a must. Using integrated software allows you to provide effective feedback in real-time without leaving your CRM.
Give feedback in the proper environment
You can give positive feedback in private and public settings, but never give constructive criticism in a group setting. Make the feedback session comfortable for the agent by finding a less formal, private place to talk.
💡Grab a cup of coffee with the agent in the breakroom and give feedback as a more informal chat to help put them at ease.
Use the sandwich technique
Don’t make your feedback session all about critizism. Instead, recognize the fact that although the agents might make some mistake, they have a lot of achievements and things to praise. Open with a positive, follow up with a negative, close with another positive — this approach will make your agents more open and receptive to regular feedback.
Survey customers post-call
Customer feedback can greatly help inform your feedback. Ask customers to complete a survey after each call. This can help not only with data for your feedback, but also help with establishing a strong product feedback loop.
Let agents self-score
Give agents a call scoring evaluation form and allow them to grade their own performance. When you sit down to give feedback, you can discuss the agent’s self-score and your score. By empowering your agents through self-scoring, they are more likely to be open to your feedback.
Use positive words
Rather than telling agents “Don’t do this,” or “You shouldn’t do that,” phrase things in the positive. For example, “Do this,” or “You should do this.” It sets a more positive tone and gives a clearer directive when you use positive language.
Be direct and simple
Get right to the point when giving feedback. It’s easier for agents to understand if you give straightforward praise and constructive criticism.
💡You could say, “I’d like to give you some feedback on your last call. I really liked how you actively listened to the customer’s complaints and showed kindness. The customer may still not be happy because we aren’t able to provide them with a refund, but you did a great job.”
If you need to provide constructive criticism to an agent that didn’t handle the same customer interaction with kindness, you could say, “I can see why you were frustrated. That was a tough call. Let’s brainstorm some ways you can calm yourself down if you’re feeling frustrated so you can address the customer’s issue with kindness.
Creating your quality assurance checklist for feedback
Another important part of feedback is creating solutions. By creating a custom-tailored QA checklist, you can develop training and build a coaching culture that is valuable to your team. Here are the three must-have traits of your checklist.
Your training needs to be tied to specific outcomes and objectives so you can measure its effectiveness.
💡If you want agents to learn better compliance, you can measure if they correctly followed the company’s rules for securely collecting data.
Training is only effective when it sticks. If your training isn’t memorable, agents are less likely to recall it well and turn it into new, improved performance. Interactive training games are a good way to truly engage your agents and create memorable lessons.
Create training programs that boost agents’ energy and make them want to learn. Giving agents a break from taking calls to do some training can be motivating. A fun way to encourage agents could be having a friendly competition related to training with small incentives like a longer lunch break or donuts for the breakroom.
Making quality feedback part of your routine
With the right tools, you can turn your quality feedback into an efficient, effective process for both you and your agents. Kaizo allows you to easily pinpoint areas of your team’s performance that need improvement and provide proactive feedback in real time.
The integrated system plugs directly into your Zendesk account meaning you never have to leave your CRM to rate tickets. Kaizo also uses a unique gamified point system to help measure progress as you go and motivate agents to take action on all the valuable feedback you provide. If you want to learn more about how Kaizo can help improve your feedback process and overall customer support processes, schedule a demo today.