Let’s set the stage for an all too common scene playing out in a contact center near you: Samantha, an up-and-coming contact center agent confidently enters her calibration review. She walks into her manager’s office expecting to have praise heaped upon her only to have the ball yanked away Charlie Brown style, and she leaves the meeting dejected and confused. A few weeks later, Samantha quits. How does a high-performing contact center agent end up getting an unexpected scathing review and leaving her job?
Put yourself in the call center agent’s shoes for a moment. How would you feel if your annual review was based on 5 or 10 random days out of the year? Combine this with the implications of missing bonus — or worse, setting back the timing of a promotion — and you have the recipe for demoralizing an entire department beyond recovery.
Like many contact center agent reviews, Samantha’s was based on a small random sampling of her calls. Like a photo zoomed in too close, the calls reviewed didn’t reveal a clear picture of her performance over that period. Most large contact centers QA less than 2% of calls and this often results in reviews that are based on a few bad calls. What’s possibly worse is that agents who actually need coaching also slip through the cracks if they got lucky and only had their good calls analyzed.
What frequently ends up happening is that contact center managers spend all of their time looking for problems, which results in agents only getting negative feedback. They never hear what they are doing right and are not incentivized to improve their performance.
This sounds unfair, but sampling calls for QA is the norm in the call center world. This leaves agents like Samantha swearing the game is rigged or worse — thinking their manager has a personal gripe against them.
Poor coaching and career development culture are the building blocks for a negative employee experience. With contact center agent attrition rates at 33% to 45% — and 100% yearly turnover rates not unheard of — you cannot afford to provide a bad experience for your employees. It can cost $12,000 to replace and retrain a single entry-level employee who makes $36,000 per year. Multiply that by the hundreds of employees your call center can lose in a year and turnover could be one of the biggest expenses you face.
If you are looking to find efficiencies in the call center, creating a more nurturing coaching culture that increases employee satisfaction and retention should be at the top of your list.
I know, at first glance the prospect of agents actually wanting to be coached is like someone wanting to get punched in the nose. But if you can make your call scoring fair and complete, then you can begin to build a coaching culture where improved performance not only feels attainable but becomes rewarding. Here are a few steps to make it happen.
This is the biggest and most important step you can take in making agent coaching a positive experience. Automating call monitoring and scoring with conversation intelligence software enables you to create an objective, scalable and repeatable QA process.
Conversation intelligence platforms like Invoca use AI-powered speech analytics to monitor 100% of the calls that comes through your contact center. This means you can automatically QA the entirety of every single call.
You define the automated call scoring criteria to quantify agent performance and the platform scores the calls, so you can move from subjectively scoring a tiny fraction of calls to objectively scoring all of them.
When you score 100% of your calls, there is no argument about getting caught on a bad day or a particularly difficult call. “With Invoca, our agents know that 100% of their calls will be reviewed, instead of a small sample,” said Mark Roblez, Director of Call Center Operations at MoneySolver. “They can no longer blame a bad score on the QA person — it takes human bias out of the equation. As a result, they’ve become more motivated to take ownership of their performance.”
Even when you’ve automated call scoring, it’s easy to fall into old habits and focus on reprimanding agents for poor performance. If you focus on recognizing high-performing agents instead, the others will follow in their footsteps to get the accolades.
Our customers at MoneySolver did this by creating leaderboards for agents who got 100% on their call scorecards. Since only perfect scores made the leaderboard, imperfect performers were not publicly shamed. Better yet, it made everyone want to figure out how to get a perfect call score so they could make the leaderboard!
“Invoca has helped keep our contact center agents engaged. I recently got a call on my cell phone from a 13-year employee, who wanted to know how she could get more 100% scores and move up on the leaderboard,” said Roblez. “With Invoca, I was able to quickly pinpoint a question she was forgetting to ask and help her to improve. It’s amazing that Invoca can help me quickly find coaching opportunities for even my most experienced team members.”
Coming into work one day and finding that all of your performance assessment processes have changed would be pretty shocking. To ease contact center agents into a new call scoring process, roll it out to a group of agents at a time. This will help you refine the process as you go along without everyone having to experience the parts that don’t work. As you roll it out and agents get comfortable with the new QA and coaching process, they’ll share that experience with other agents which should make them less apprehensive and even look forward to a more fair and positive coaching experience.
The first step to coaching any great team is creating a shared goal to work toward. Once your team has a goal in their sights, they’ll be more motivated to do their best work to achieve it.
In addition to team goals, you should also create individual goals for your contact center agents. You should tailor the goals to each of their strengths and weaknesses — a newbie would have very different revenue goals than a veteran who’s been with the company for years.
It’s most effective to collaborate with each person to create individual goals, rather than handing them down. When you collaborate, the individual will feel that they’re more accountable for their goals and will be more motivated to reach them.
Conversation intelligence tools make it easy to access call recordings and transcriptions, and agents can even access their own recordings, transcripts, and scorecards. Invoca automatically records and transcribes every phone call — within minutes, they’re stored in the platform for your team to review.
Invoca also offers in-platform agent coaching, so you can comment directly on call transcriptions. This allows you to use the transcriptions as coaching tools and give your agents real-time feedback without missing a beat. They no longer have to wait for their next meeting with you to get feedback — and they can start making improvements before the next call comes in.
It takes great managers to create great contact center agents. Managers have an enormous influence on your employees’ job satisfaction. According to a Gallup poll, 75% of the reasons people quit come down to their managers. If you’re not gathering feedback on your managerial performance, you could be unknowingly driving employees away, increasing turnover, and leaving your contact center understaffed.
What can you do to improve your employees’ job satisfaction? Easy: request feedback from them regularly. This will give them a voice in your management style and ensure that you’re catering to their needs and let them know that they’re being heard.
With the right tools and tactics, you can make call center agent coaching a positive experience that improves agent morale, retention, and in turn, improves the customer service experience. Happier agents equals happier customers 100% of the time.
Case Study: How MoneySolver improved agent morale and saw a 2x increase in close rate at the contact center
Blog: Up-Level Your Agent Performance With Automated Contact Center QA