Custom Built Agent Team

The perfect customer care agent is high-performing and engaged, at least according to managers but how does this fare against reality?

However, in reality, we’re capable of observing multiple ranges of performances from low, to average and finally high. Agents are doing the same job, but their performance varies so much simply because they’re all different people and we’re evaluating them with the same metrics. It’s natural that some will lag behind while others will excel above their peers.

Considering that everyone is different and has a plethora of experiences and expectations maybe the managers themselves should opt in for a unique personalised approach – recognise all these differences and accept them. Focus agent development and training around those, this will help tremendously with performance.

Personalise agents coaching sessions, adjust them to their needs and performance level.

In order to reach peak performance use these 5 steps.

 

Job description

Everyone has a job description but most of the time those are ignored or even forgotten about completely. Someone once told me “My job description is like a fairy tale; In a filing cabinet far, far away”. Dust the job description off, it is the most common denominator of your agents. It’s the best starting point, in won’t help you with performance issues but will let you learn what expectations your team has.

Put that knowledge to good use.

 

Expectations

Make sure all the agents in your contact centre are on the same page when it comes to performance expectations. The job description is a great starting point, but each team member can understand it in a totally different way and that is the way their performance will vary.

Communication is the basis of an effective team.

 

Diagnose performance

Agents need consistent metrics and performance evaluation methods those won’t substitute day-to-day coaching and performance management but will let you benchmark current performance and competency levels for each individual. You simply need to know what to tune up.

Pick the best tool to gauge their abilities and be aware of potential risks involved with each method.

 

Devise a plan

After carefully analysing each agent’s strengths and improvement opportunities, create a tune up plan. Create a custom made plan of action for each agent, do not generalise but make it relevant and specific to each person. The plan needs to be practical, be sure to include activities, online learning and company training.

Whatever you plan for your agents make sure it all ties down directly to the evaluation.

 

Implement the plan

Now the tune-up begins. The plan itself is a great topic for discussion between agents and managers, it will fuel their thirst for knowledge. No more wasted training and resources.

Your team is ready to reach its peak performance.

 

The cost associated with the aforementioned custom tune up is low while it provides great value. Tune up your staff and see them soar.

The #1 Job: Coaching

Once you embrace positive coaching, then employee morale will hit an all time high and you will be able to feel the positive energy “crackling” in the air.

contact centre agents are more engaged and show more enthusiasm and are more likely to succeed in their day to day tasks. Work becomes a great experience for your staff, you can literally feel the positive energy “crackling” in the air.

But if coaching sessions are negative or virtually non-existent, team morale will plummet.

Agents will become disconnected, absent minded and bored. This will result in lower quality of service as well as higher attrition rates.

 

Coach­ing is essential

High productivity and decent bottom-line results are not impossible in an environment where morale is low, but it is highly unlikely. As a coach, you need to remember that if you provide a better working experience for your contact centre agents, they will become more engaged and enthusiastic, and thus the customer experience will reflect that.

As a manager, you are responsible for your employees, you need to care for them – trust us, it’s the right thing to do. But if you believe that altruism has no place in the business world maybe those couple points will show you why coaching is so essential:

Positive coaching will lead to high morale among your contact centre agents, thus providing these long-term benefits:

  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Higher pro­duc­tiv­ity
  • Lower attrition rates
  • Higher cus­tomer satisfaction
  • Increased cus­tomer loyalty

 

Don’t fall into a trap

Don’t ever make the assumption that the correct path to high morale is providing contact centre agents with what they vocal majority of them want. Take a look back at your own career path and think back, what did you want as a “grunt” employee? Better pay, more “spare” time for non-work-related shenanigans and less work relates tasks – that sounds like the fastest path to minimalism.

If you want your employees to thrive, create a dynamic and positive environment, provide opportunities for self-development. Continuous learning will lead to constant improvements on multiple levels – knowledge is power, especially in the dynamic world of multi-lingual contact centres.

 

Make it happen

First and foremost, as the manager, you need to embrace the idea that coaching is the #1 job you are responsible for. Then, cultivate and spread the idea of positive coaching among your staff – all of them, no exception. Open communication and active participation should be encouraged, make agents aware that despite not being decision makers their input is highly valued and everyone can make a difference. Make them a part of “The Grand Plan”.

Creating this kind of positive environment is no easy task, but it goes a long way.

 

…don’t get discouraged

Every company has some “just get by” people and nothing will change that, no matter what you as the manager do to inspire and motivate them. Morale of the whole contact centre can be in danger, so when the time to act comes be firm. Issue out warnings to those contact centre agents with attitude problems and if that doesn’t help it’s best to terminate “get by-ers” on the spot.

Coaching is an Art Form

Suffering from poor agent performance and not reaching targets is a common occurrence in the contact centre industry.

Managers facing such issues approach their staff and try to push them to work harder and just “be” more efficient as if that alone was enough to boost their productivity as well as solve underlying causes.

But as with all choices made under pressure, this one isn’t the optimal solution. Team leaders and supervisors often think they are coaching their contact centre agents but in reality, they are simply highlighting problems and ask to “magically improve performance”, without providing any coaching whatsoever.

Improving coaching skills should be a priority for each and every supervisor.

 

Support & challenge

Remember, your staff is already frustrated and demotivated after not being able to hit the predicted targets. Those relatively easy goals are becoming impossible – adding more pressure from their managers could be fatal to your business.

Support and nurture your agents, especially when morale is down. Provide challenges as well as goals to reach but at the same time establish clear and reachable goals.

 

The “I want to…” not “I have to” approach

Time should never be a reason for a poor coaching session or a complete lack of one. This is your job as the manager – don’t ever label coaching as “wasted time”.

Remember to engage the coachee in such a way, that he or she will leave the session with a sense of involvement in the coaching process, help them identify the problem themselves – this will strengthen their desire to improve their skills.

Highlight the good and the bad, give your agents “contrast”. Encourage self-development, it’s a great asset, especially in the outsourcing industry.

 

The coaching plan

Prepare a solid coaching structure, one that addresses each potential issue, remember about proper questioning techniques. The plan is vital, it will bring consistency to your sessions and will put the “value” back into coaching as an art form.

Just be sure to keep it simple, clear and involve agents as much as possible – interactive coaching is the best possible solution to performance issues.

 

The process

  • Introduce; make it clear from the get-go, what is expected from both parties involved and what should be the outcome.
  • Pinpoint;the problematic area by listening to recorded calls, reviewing data entry quality or missed sales opportunities. Finding and reviewing particular problems alongside the agent will provide tremendous insight when you compare both sets of information.
  • Summarise;make notes, ask simple open questions. Ask the agent, what they did well and what areas need to be improved upon? Let them explain “How” will they improve, offer tips and exercises.

 

The outcome

Through proper engagement during coaching sessions, you will create value for the activity – no longer, will it be considered a mere “time sink” by agents and managers alike.

The feeling of self-development is a tremendous morale booster and will benefit your staff as a whole.

Your business will thrive thanks to improvements in key areas such as; customer contacts, sales conversation, staff and customer retention.