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No More Excuses! How to Make Time for Agent Coaching

Engaging and motivating agents is a responsibility that typically falls on the shoulders of contact center supervisors. But finding time to proactively coach agents to ensure they are motivated and engaged – while juggling administrative items and fighting daily fires – is a real challenge.

Melissa Kovacevic, Contact Center and Customer Engagement consultant, shared her 30 plus years of agent coaching experience during one of our recent webinars on this important topic. According to Kovacevic, supervisors normally spend most of their day in meetings, responding to emails and handling administrative tasks, and only 10 percent of their time coaching agents. At the same time, agents’ days are filled with handling calls and other off-phone work, making it difficult to spend the time they need with coaches to improve their performance and ultimately – the customer experience.

The key is monitoring agents and delivering real-time feedback.  But how can contact centers fully optimize their operations to give supervisors time to coach and agents time to listen?

How can supervisors eliminate the time wasters that prevent them from making coaching a priority, while at the same time leveraging a real-time approach to effectively reinforce positive behavior and help agents overcome their fear of being monitored and coached?

How critical is coaching?

Inconsistent coaching results in poor agent skills and engagement, which ultimately negatively impacts the customer experience. But unfortunately, consistent coaching isn’t a reality for many contact center supervisors today. Most would say they simply don’t have time to coach.

“Though coaching has a direct effect on agent performance, too often supervisors find themselves stuck at their desks, busy with day-to-day operations, instead of out on the floor listening to live calls and engaging with agents. Instead of being proactive, they rely on passive contact center tools that only allow coaching long after the opportunity to engage has passed,” said Kovacevic

This results in missed opportunities to provide real-time feedback and coaching that can improve agent performance, as well as the agent-supervisor relationship, and leads to more escalated calls and internal complaints.

Real-time coaching

Studies show that if people receive reward and recognition immediately, there is a more profound effect on behavior. To truly be effective, coaching should not just come in the form of formal sessions as time allows, but in real time when the need presents itself.

Each day, coaches have the opportunity to recognize agent performance improvements – both large and small – through real-time observations and follow-up notes Kovacevic. This proactive monitoring enables supervisors to provide positive feedback, build agent-supervisor relationships, reduce the amount of formal coaching sessions, and build long-term success.

All of this leads to a better overall customer experience – but how can supervisors find the time for this real-time monitoring and coaching?

Finding time to coach

Supervisors spend a lot of time combing through reports and metrics to uncover and assess agent performance data and target coaching efforts. This is valuable time that takes away from actual coaching.

Technology can help busy contact center leaders find the time for coaching by using business rules to trigger the delivery of critical performance information to supervisors.

Then, supervisors can quickly identify which agents need help before customer service is negatively affected. These agents can be automatically taken out of the queue for that specific call type and performance-based assignments are pushed to the agent desktop during natural downtimes in call volume.

Doing more of what works

Intraday automation makes it easy to use filters to identify agents who need more help in a certain area, identify the related tasks or task bundles that have shown to improve performance, and then assign those tasks to the agents who need them.

With a task library, a central learning and development team can define the tasks that address specific behaviors and bundle them into a standard coaching process. This provides a consistent approach to how coaches should respond to specific performance gaps.

Once an agent has completed an assessment that shows he or she has achieved the required level of mastery in a specific area, skill associations are automatically updated so that they can immediately begin taking calls. At the same time, supervisors are automatically notified of the achievement so that they can recognize their improvement in real-time.

Finding ways to eliminate time wasters so that supervisors can prioritize monitoring and coaching – and making sure they have the real-time information they need to immediately take action to improve agent performance – makes agents better at what they do.

Not only does this benefit your agents and your customers, but it also benefits coaches, as it makes their job easier in the long run.

About Intradiem

Intradiem, formerly Knowlagent, is the leader in intraday automation solutions for multi-channel contact centers. Intradiem’s customers achieve an invincible customer experience with a real-time workforce. 

Intradiem’s solutions automate manual processes such as intraday task management, intraday staffing, reskilling, channel balancing, and real-time alerts to ensure front-line workforces are poised to react to whatever the market throws their way. More than 450,000 contact center, field service, retail, bank branch, and back office employees around the world use Intradiem’s solution every day. For more information, call 888-566-9457 or visit www.intradiem.com.

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