Your customer service team carries a lot of weight on its collective shoulders. After all, they’re responsible for representing an entire company and making a positive impression on a constant stream of consumers: if they do a bad job, the repercussions can be severe.
Such as? Businesses lost $756 billion in the United States due to bad service, while 41 percent of consumers admit to dropping a brand due to bad experiences.
A single mistake or misjudgement could chase just one customer away at a time, and while you may not notice this to begin with, you will when a large portion of your audience has switched brands.
Proper management is critical to keep your customer service performing to the highest standard, but what techniques work best? Read on for all the answers you need.
Quality Assurance is Vital to Assess Agents’ Performance
Every call center or customer service department will benefit from conducting an ongoing quality assurance program.
This involves hiring one or more QA analysts to perform in-depth monitoring across your service team. Call recording, live chat transcripts, customer surveys, custom scorecards and more generate actionable data that provides a clear overview of of your workforce’s performance.
You’ll identify where employees are going right and wrong. Are they treating customers with respect? Do they greet them politely and introduce themselves, along with the company? What steps do they take to engage callers? Are certain agents making the same mistakes over and over again?
Analysts, team leaders and managers can formulate strategies to improve performance based on these findings.
Coaching Employees to Drive Growth
Good call center teams’ management involves investing time and resources into ongoing coaching. Agents can benefit from both face-to-face and remote coaching based on your QA analysts’ work.
Feedback is a main part of the coaching process. This may be a difficult (possibly even awkward) step to begin with, but over time it will become easier. Particularly as agents get used to it and bond with analysts / managers.
Effective call center teams’ management demands a considerate approach when giving feedback, to avoid causing friction between employees. Being unduly harsh could leave them feeling frustrated and damage morale.
During coaching sessions, set clear goals with reasonable timeframes. These will vary from one agent to the next, and coaching should be tailored to suit each individual. Focus on engaging and motivating the team: make them see how better performance will benefit everyone.
For example, satisfied customers are more likely to be loyal and spread the word of your quality service. This can generate new business and boost revenue — potentially enough for pay rises or bonuses.
Role play is another strong coaching technique. Play recordings of the agent’s previous interactions and explore how they could have handled difficult situations better. This is a risk-free, interactive way to educate them, rather than subjecting them to generic lectures.
Learning Management and Training
Coaching goes hand in hand with training. Educating service agents on good communication techniques, products and making the best of their resources will help to improve their performance.
But as with coaching, training should be personalized. The best QA software includes comprehensive learning management facilities, allowing you to customize training based on every employee’s strengths and weaknesses. This eliminates the danger of wasting time on lengthy training sessions with a broad focus, and is more likely to engage them on an individual level.
Again, proper quality assurance lays the foundations for effective training. Evaluating agents’ work empowers managers and team leaders with the information they need to create the most relevant training programs possible. They can guide employees to hit targets and represent the company to a higher standard.
Is the individual a strong communicator but less productive than they should be? Do they find engaging customers easy but fail to use tools properly? Does their entire work ethic demand attention?
Achieving positive change takes time, so everyone involved in call center teams’ management must be patient. Avoid trying to pressure workers into improving at a faster rate than they’re comfortable with (or, indeed, capable of). Let them develop at their own pace.
Effective Ways to Motivate Agents
Staying motivated in a service-oriented environment is easier for some people than others. One agent could thrive on helping people and knowing they’ve done the best job they can. Another might feel their effort is of no consequence and pushing themselves earns them little more than their standard rate of pay.
Everyone’s different. That’s why you have to embrace different techniques to motivate your staff and engage them, such as:
- Rewards: integrate a reward program into your processes, with multiple benefits available for high achievers. This could include gift cards, extra time off with full pay and more. Try to incorporate a good variety of rewards to appeal to diverse personalities
- Make time for positive feedback: we’ve already discussed feedback, but make sure you’re just as liberal with praise as criticism. Tell agents they’re doing a good job even for the smallest achievements, rather than singling out the same top performers again and again
- Be open and available: call center teams’ management should be accessible. Managers who hide away in their office and clearly undervalue their staff may inspire resentment. Instead, invite employees to approach managers and team leaders whenever they have a problem, no matter how big or small. They’ll feel recognized and part of a team
- Offer flexibility: give agents flexibility to vary their hours, wear their own clothes (within reason) and take a break when they need one. They’ll have more control over their daily routine and appreciate that managers are helping to accommodate their lifestyle better
Motivating your workforce is hard, but persevere. Don’t give up on them just because they’re adapting to coaching or training less efficiently than their colleagues.
Call center teams’ management is an ongoing challenge, but you’ll make it easier by trying the techniques explored above. Quality assurance, coaching, training and working hard to motivate staff will all contribute to a stronger team in the long run.
If you have any experience in call center teams’ management, how did you achieve better performance? What benefits did you see as a result? We want to hear from you!