The ’95 Chicago Bulls, the ’72 Miami Dolphins, the 2015 Golden State Warriors — what did all these great teams have behind them? Great coaching. Contact center teams and sales reps who guard the phone in stores are no different — they can’t put up game-changing numbers without the steady hand of a manager guiding them to their full potential.
Think about a rookie basketball player trying to perfect their jump shot. They can’t achieve the level of precision needed by just doing reps. They might not see what’s going awry — they could be jumping too high, releasing too late, or not putting enough arc on the ball. But a seasoned coach can help them understand the mechanics, spot the flaws, and figure out how to improve. It’s far more effective than trying to learn with no guidance or past experience. You can coach call center agents, sales reps, and teams at individual business locations to improve their sales closing techniques in much the same way.
But despite the value of 1:1 coaching, some call centers and multi-location businesses don’t invest in this practice. It’s can be costly and time-consuming, but do you know what costs your business far more in the long run? Letting your agents fumble high-quality sales leads due to a lack of training.
Grab your whistle and get ready to draw up some plays — we’re about to show you the most effective tactics to mold your telesales teams into championship-caliber players.
1. Set Concrete Team and Individual Goals
The first step to coaching any great team is creating a shared goal to work toward — whether it’s winning an NBA championship or beating your Q4 sales projections. 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 or sales reps at business locations. 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.
2. Give Balanced Feedback
In a recent survey, 37% of employees cited recognition as the best way to support them. Therefore, when you give employees feedback, you should spend some time recognizing their strengths and what they’re doing well. This will set a positive tone for your meetings and stop them from getting defensive.
Once you’ve laid out your agents’ best qualities and strengths, then you can move into some constructive criticism. Make sure that you’re backing up your criticism with concrete data and examples, as this will make it easier to digest and more actionable. When you provide criticism, make sure you highlight how they can overcome their weaknesses and give them concrete next steps. This way, they’ll know exactly what’s expected of them and how to get there.
3. Use the Right Performance Incentives
One of the easiest ways to improve performance is to give provide incentives to work towards. This seems pretty obvious, right? But here’s the challenge: you can’t just throw any old incentive out there — you need to make sure that you’re offering something your team members will actually respond to. And, on top of that, you need to ensure that you’re staying within budget.
Cash, obviously, is king. It’s why people clock into work every day. If you’re able to offer spiffs, spot bonuses, or raises, this will be your most effective tool.
But if you’re a new business or if your cash flow is tight, you may need to look at other options. For example, some businesses give long-term equity to sales agents. Since this benefit only pays off after a few years, it can be a great way to both motivate and retain your agents — an important consideration since contact center turnover is often high. You could also use recognition programs to tout your agents’ achievements to the organization at large. This will make them feel that their hard work is valued and appreciated.
In franchise and other multi-location businesses that may have varying performance KPIs from location to location, you can also set incentives at the store level. When the location meets a performance goal, everyone is rewarded. This can help promote teamwork and collaboration at the location since everyone has to perform to meet the common goal.
4. Choose the Right Tools to Scale Coaching
The best coaches don’t just use their intuition — they make informed decisions with concrete metrics. This gives them the ability to accurately measure performance, diagnose issues, and find opportunities to drive better results.
Many contact center managers have trouble getting the data they need to coach their teams. They don’t have visibility into every interaction — instead, they’re manually going through a small number of the thousands of calls they receive, extrapolating a result, and coaching teams based on the findings. This results in painting the whole team with a broad brush based on a narrow data set and it may not accurately reflect where coaching energy needs to be focused.
To fill this data gap, contact center managers are using conversation intelligence solutions like Invoca. Invoca automatically records and transcribes each contact center conversation and its AI analyzes the speech to pick up key phrases and agent performance indicators that you set based on your business needs. With this data, you can better understand agent performance and diagnose issues that are impacting revenue.
5. Use Automated QA to Accurately Diagnose Agent Strengths and Weaknesses
If you’re like most companies, you’re using a manual QA process to track your agents’ performance. Be careful — manually listening to calls is expensive, time-consuming, and fraught with human error. In addition, your QA team (or team of one) is only able to listen to a small sample size of calls.
Manual listening can also lead to incorrect judgments — for example, you may catch the best agent or location on their worst day or vice versa. As a result, it can be difficult to truly understand each of their strengths and weaknesses. And your coaching regimen may be flawed — you could be focusing on the wrong areas and missing out on growth opportunities.
Invoca for Sales solves this problem by using AI to automatically and objectively score agent performance on every call. No two sales organizations are the same — that’s why Invoca allows you to set your own unique criteria to score success. For example, you may want your sales agents to start with a greeting, mention an upcoming promotion, read the appropriate legal script, and then ask the caller to schedule an appointment. Invoca’s call scorecard uses AI to automatically detect which of these criteria are met on each call and assign a corresponding score.
With this solution, you can rest assured that you’re getting a complete and accurate picture of how your agents or reps at business locations are performing. You can then tailor your coaching accordingly.
6. Use Call Recordings and Transcriptions as Coaching Tools
Great coaches don’t just train their teams on the court. They also sit them down in the classroom to study film. They analyze their past performances — both where they excelled and where they missed out on opportunities. As a call center coach, you should take this same approach. Your agents’ call recordings and transcriptions contain a wealth of teaching opportunities.
Conversation intelligence tools make it easy to access call recordings and transcriptions. Invoca automatically records and transcribes every phone call — within minutes, they’re stored in the platform for your team to review. These valuable tools can help you train your sales team and ensure that they’re learning from their mistakes. That’s why industry leaders like AutoNation use them to improve agent close rates.
Invoca also offers in-platform 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 you can coach remote agents without missing a beat.
With Invoca, individual agents, sales reps, and managers at business locations can also access their own scorecards, empowering them to view and improve their own performance at any time.
7. Request Feedback on Your Performance as a Manager — and Act on It
As a manager, you 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.
Here are some starter questions you can ask:
- What management style works best for you?
- What’s the best way to communicate with you?
- What’s the best process for you to learn a new skill?
- How do you like to receive feedback?
- Am I doing a good job supporting you?
- Are there any roadblocks you foresee in your current projects? If so, how can I help remove them?
- What are some things we could be doing better as a team? Or company?
- Do you have all the tools and technology you need to be effective at your job?
- What are your career goals? What can I do to help you achieve them?
Once you’ve asked your agents these questions, don’t stop there — take the necessary steps to act on their feedback. This will make your employees feel valued and increase their job satisfaction. As a result, they’ll be eager to go the extra mile to serve your customers.
To learn more about how you can use conversation intelligence to improve call center coaching, schedule your personal walkthrough of Invoca today.