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How Quality Management Can Empower and Engage Your Contact Center Agents

talkingThis month, we're featuring the contributions of the 2022 ICMI Thought Leaders and Featured Contributors. These leaders in the contact center industry regularly take time out to share knowledge to help their peers succeed. ICMI 2022 Thought Leader Susan Hash has been a steady contributor to discourse for the contact center industry through her work with Contact Center Pipeline and LiveVox. Here, she discusses EX. 

Welcome to the age of agent empowerment. If there is one thing that The Great Resignation has made clear, it’s that frontline employees want more control over their work and the impact that their jobs have on their professional and personal lives.

The shift to work-from-home and hybrid work models is providing contact center agents with much-desired schedule flexibility, but that’s just one element of a winning employee value proposition (EVP) designed to engage and retain talented customer service staff.

The differentiator for contact center employers in the coming years will be offering personalized learning and development opportunities and clear paths for career advancement. But getting there will require companies to revamp their conventional, pre-pandemic EVPs. Standard perks and benefits packages are simply no longer enough to attract high-quality job candidates, especially those who spent the past 12-24 months taking stock of their lives and thinking about how they want to spend their time.

Research by Gartner has found that employees are not satisfied with the traditional EVP. Instead, they want a more human deal from employers—one in which they are recognized as people, not just workers. A human-centric EVP, Gartner states, should be designed to deliver an exceptional life (not just work) experience. This, in part, includes empowering employees to design their own growth and development to meet their personal needs.

Contact centers can look first to their quality management program to provide agents with individualized growth opportunities. Here are a few considerations to ensure that agents feel valued, empowered, and invested in the process.

Create personalized coaching and development plans

Getting agents to take ownership of their skills development and path forward begins with one-on-one discussions to identify each team member’s long-term goals. Work together to set performance goals tailored to the individual (i.e., which skills would they like to expand or improve, and what do they want to achieve). These discussions will help you to develop targeted scorecards to drive performance improvement at the agent and operational levels.

Share individual and team performance data

Giving agents access to their own performance data via customized dashboards gives them a sense of accountability for reaching set objectives. Being able to view historical data and/or team data will help them to set benchmarks for self-improvement, take responsibility for developing their skills, and make informed decisions about their progress. And understanding how their performance compares to others on the team helps them to gauge what is average and what best-in-class looks like.

Make sure agents feel that they’re being treated fairly

The question of fairness often arises when agent performance is being evaluated. Measure only the components of the interactions that agents can control, such as courtesy, tone, compliance, adherence, communication skills, and problem-solving skills. If you identify quality criteria that are scoring low across your team, don’t single out individual agents for coaching. Dig deeper to find the underlying cause, which may indicate a team training gap or process issue, and help the entire team.

Provide feedback with context

Connect agent performance feedback to recordings of individual interactions for the greatest impact. This gives agents the benefit of hearing and seeing what went well and where things went wrong. When agents can self-identify errors and opportunities for improvement, the feedback is viewed more positively. And, when agents understand coaching, the feedback is much more effective.

Call attention to outstanding performance

Be sure to recognize examples of great performance and not just the areas that need work. Identify agents doing things right and add these interaction recordings to your eLearning library so other agents can learn from real-life best practices.

Give agents a voice in the QM process

Coaching and development should not be a one-way process, but rather a collaborative learning experience for agents and supervisors. Agents want to take an active role in those conversations. Recording 100% of agents’ interactions provides them with more accurate results, as well as the means to review their calls, emails, SMS, and chats so they can draw their own conclusions about their performance. Build agents’ trust in the program by giving them the ability to question or dispute a score and share their concerns.

We all know that filling out your team roster is harder than it has ever been. This means we must make conscious steps to ensure each member of our team feels connected and empowered. These steps may take effort, but it’s likely much less effort than finding new team members to fill the void should someone leave.

Topics: Employee Experience, Coaching And Quality Management, Best Practices