Society has evolved in a dizzying way and, with it, so have customer expectations. More knowledgeable customers want to connect with you through all the channels they use in their day-to-day lives — phone, chat, SMS, email, social media and videos. Having a contact center solution that lets you answer the needs of your customers is a must-have. And being able to alternate between agents and automated systems is a critical way to answer customer questions — faster and more efficiently.
Human talent plays an important role in the customer experience, especially within the contact center. Trained, proficient and happy agents translate into happy customers. Giving your employees the tools and knowledge to service customers is critical. But you can no longer only rely on the recruitment process to identify crucial traits, skills or abilities to meet the necessary qualifications from agents. It’s also important to train and coach agents to be successful. And this needs to be an ongoing process that lasts throughout their careers.
A well-designed and structured coaching program ensures that critical information and best practices are always accessible, giving employees general and specific information so they can continually improve performance.
Inside Contact Center Coaching
Let’s take a look at what coaching in the contact center looks like, why it’s important, what challenges exist and how to overcome them.
Coaching is a process focused on developing the knowledge, skills and abilities of a person to enhance their performance. Processes are designed to understand which direction to take and how to do that — supporting agents at every level to achieve desired goals, build awareness and empower them to make the right choices.
Coaching within the contact center is an interactive and iterative process that involves different stakeholders — managers, senior agents, team leaders, supervisors and agents. It’s a learning experience that will enhance the knowledge of both parties. Contact center coaching gravitates around an agent’s professional development, how that agent handles an interaction, what knowledge that agent has about products and services, guidance on how to use available tools and software, how to build better customer relationships, and how to generate insights they could share with the rest of the company.
With coaching, companies can get the most out of their employees, develop the next generation of leaders, and enable them to understand performance trends. Managers can also identify and address critical weaknesses and areas of improvement. Coaching lets companies rely on the human resources they have and retain talent — all while overcoming common day-to-day challenges within a contact center, including:
There are several coaching challenges within a contact center: time constraints, heavy workloads, learning processes, training materials, feedback based on data, performance evaluations and communication to empower agents. Agents and managers must cover several aspects to achieve effective coaching.
Contact center employees face an overwhelming daily workload and must handle different inquiries from customers. Time isn’t always a readily available resource. So, it can be difficult to find the time to collect information, make personalized and actionable plans, gather relevant data, and structure feedback.
It’s imperative to identify blind spots in advance so you can determine the proper documentation and information to support coaching. To articulate the necessary information and generate new knowledge and skills, managers must understand that each employee has a different learning process. They also need to show patience and use good communication skills.
When delivering a coaching session, use both practical and dynamic approaches as well as support documentation. This will help employees better retain information and assimilate and implement any feedback they receive.
One of the most important things is that companies can do to encourage their employees is internalize feedback, adapt it and then turn it into a habit. Use real-world examples of interactions to show which behaviors and actions to repeat as well as areas to improve. Evaluating interactions can improve performance; but, to do this, managers need the right tools so they can easily identify high performers or employees who require more training to improve.
Using Technology to Overcome Challenges
With new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), real-time monitoring and workforce engagement management software, contact center managers can better pinpoint and schedule coaching sessions. These tools let them close the gap and drive improvements, bringing together interaction insights and services to meet company requirements and identify the exact moment to step in and support a contact center agent.
Coaching within contact centers doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task. With the right tools, every employee can have access to the training and professional development necessary to take employee engagement — and customer experience — to the next level.