This is a guest blog from Lindsey Plocek, head of marketing at Observe.AI.
With a deep technology background and intimate understanding of the contact center space, our team at Observe.AI built a Voice AI platform that supports teams to be faster, more accurate and more human in every interaction.
It’s a blessing and a curse that the show must go on in contact centers right now. Talking about things like productivity and performance can seem so trivial during a pandemic. On top of that, many of us are telecommuting for the first time. We may have people joining our teams who we’ve never met in person. Suddenly, we may have a lot less time to meet one-on-one with our agents, too.
How should contact center leaders talk about performance and coach teams? What should be avoided? Here are four “dos” and “don’ts” to consider.
Now more than ever, it’s important that we “slow down to speed up.” Rather than launching into the mechanics of the job, be sure to ask your agents, “How are you?” and deeply listen. More specifically, try asking “How’s the workload for you?” since you can no longer see where they’re struggling or succeeding. Here are engaging questions to ask agents and teams:
If you don’t have time to meet with agents one-on-one, try organizing small group discussions with ring groups or regions, also known as huddles. Use data to validate why agents should adopt new behaviors through micro-coaching sessions to improve every customer interaction. Enable peer and self-coaching through platforms that help agents identify their own coaching opportunities and play back the most empathetic or most challenging calls.
One thing many contact centers agree on is the importance of a fair way to understand remote agent performance.
At a time when it can be more difficult to raise hands for immediate help, how can agents self-coach if they don’t know how they’re doing when compared to the rest of the team?
As Dale Sturgill of EmployBridge explains, “The days of randomly pulling calls and scoring just 1% of them on 150 quality assurance items are over.” Instead, teams at companies like EmployBridge use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze each call and identify coaching opportunities. Doing so provides greater transparency into the quality management process and helps teams identify small wins they can celebrate to build and maintain strong morale and motivation.
With many teams settling into remote work and adopting new processes overnight, it’s easy to lose sight of the larger perspective.
Take a step back and try asking yourself these performance-related questions:
A national home retailer, another customer we work with at Observe.AI, needed to improve its Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and saw that they were losing points on empathy-related questions. To improve, they coached agents on adopting compassionate phrases like “I’m so sorry to hear,” and “Is there anything else I can help you with?”.
With speech analytics and AI, this retailer monitored which agents were adopting the compassionate dialogues and saw their empathy CSAT jump 37% in just one month.
At the end of the day, agents can only perform well if they’re feeling supported. It’s no secret that many contact center agents are having more difficult and sensitive calls now.
On the call center floor, when agents are having a bad day they can vent to colleagues. That’s more difficult to do at home. The agents at one pharmaceutical e-commerce company that partners with Observe.AI are no stranger to tough calls. For instance, people sometimes incorrectly blame these professionals for things that result from the nuances of the customers’ insurance plan.
That’s why this company uses speech analytics and AI to surface moments of really negative customer sentiment on calls. They then leave comments to motivate, coach, or encourage agents via Observe.AI. By celebrating more successes and offering encouragement, you can help agents improve with context.
If you have a way to surface these interactions, try sending your agents words of encouragement and let them know you’re available to talk. Or, host a group discussion where agents can vent about the tough moments they faced on calls and brainstorm new approaches together.
I hope you enjoyed these tips. If you’d like to learn more about how to coach agents remotely or how to mitigate unexpected call surges, check out our Remote Call Center Bundle, which is full of podcasts, webinars and playbooks.
Curious to see how AI can help your contact center through a time of crisis? Try the Observe.AI “click-to-install” integration on AppConnect — the industry-first marketplace for enterprise contact centers. At no cost for 30 days, it will help you access speech analytics and automate parts of your quality assurance process across all of your calls.
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