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How many of your call centre agents sound totally bored when talking to customers?

If you randomly selected 100 calls and listened to them, how many of your contact centre agents would sound bored and disengaged when speaking to customers? And what would differentiate a contact centre that answered 5% from one that answered 50%?

In our experience, the answer is motivating and engaging staff with higher levels of feedback and coaching.

Agents are the core of your contact centre and usually your biggest expense. They are also the first point of contact that customers have with your brand, so ensuring they receive comprehensive and regular coaching & feedback is vital for your reputation and bottom line.  All too often team leaders are given basic training on how to feedback and coach and then left on their own to learn “on the job”. Inevitably things will go wrong, and when they do there is no one to pick up the pieces and the business suffers.

Coaching isn’t just for your agents; it’s vital for every member of the contact centre team. People are scared of confrontation so don’t always feel comfortable challenging performance and behaviours. Unless they are given adequate training, team managers will be ill equipped to deal with the consequences when your agents aren’t performing. I’ve deliberately used the word “managers” here because whilst lots of organisations like to use the phrase team leader, the holders of these roles are rarely supported to make the shift from manager to leader

All the time team leaders tell me that they’re too busy dealing with human resources issues and disciplinary hearings to have time to coach their contact centre agents… what they sometimes fail to understand is that if they had supported their staff better and engaged their workforce, they wouldn’t have a problem.

The two pillars of a successful agent coaching strategy.

1. Creating ownership and accountability and visibility.

For coaching to be effective, it’s vital to know what topics have been covered, actions that need to be taken and milestones that must be met. Coaching is about so much more than simply improving skills, if done well, it can help to encourage self-reflection and get to the core of why someone may be underperforming. By implementing a collaborative process that sees the manager and agent working together to address issues and set targets you can encourage agents to truly take responsibility for their results. Bill Kaylan of AutoGlass recently used the phrase “Self-changing behaviour” to describe this process. I quite like it

2. Remember that it’s good to talk.

Whilst technology can give you the tools to help create an effective coaching & feedback programme, electronic feedback should never replace face-to-face interaction. Time and time again research has shown that face-to-face communication boosts morale and builds stronger and more meaningful relationships. Having an effective agent coaching solution in place will ensure that you can come to these meetings prepared and ready to support your agents to increase customer satisfaction.

Find our how NS&I improved customer satisfaction by engaging its agents