Coaching and Mentoring in the Call Center without Wrecking the Schedule
When it comes to managing a pool of contact center agents, most organizations today use some tried-and-true methodologies. They build a schedule based on the contact center’s forecasting needs and the agents’ skills. They spend a little time training and evaluating agents. After that, they generally let them loose and hope for the best.
In today’s business climate, this isn’t really enough. Customers are demanding, and they expect service via a variety of new channels (sometimes all in the same transaction). Products and services are more complex than ever, which requires that the agent build a critical mass of knowledge. Call center systems are also complicated and need to be used properly in order to maximize their feature sets. All of this has combined to ensure that agents today need to be far better trained and skilled than ever.
Call centers, unfortunately, don’t have all the time in the world to spend training agents. Many companies embark on a few hours of classroom training at the time of the agent’s hire, and then rely on brief, too-infrequent coaching sessions to fill in the blanks. This often isn’t enough: many agents today leave their jobs because they believe they are not adequately trained and supported.
Smart call centers can use their schedule solutions to ensure that agents are provided with enough time for training and coaching. It’s also important to ensure that not all of this time is spend in a classroom setting, however. Studies have shown that knowledge offered in a classroom setting is the least retained by agents.
There are some unique ways organizations can boost their agents’ knowledge, according to a recent Fonolo blog post by Daniella. One of them includes “the buddying up” approach.
“This is such a simple approach that not only creates camaraderie, but it also educates agents and builds confidence,” she writes. “Have agents listen to each other’s calls in group sessions and discuss good aspects of the call along with areas of improvement. We all deal with conversation differently, but that doesn’t mean that one way is better than the next. Encourage learning and growing in a group setting so that agents can form relationships, learn from each other, and improve their overall interactions with customers.”
This allows a manager to kill two birds with one stone: he or she can boost an agent’s knowledge without taking him or her off the phones and wrecking the schedule. A more senior agent working next to a junior agent can set a good example, imparting tips and helping the newer agent learn by listening.
Another way managers can help boost agents’ knowledge without interrupting the schedule is by one-on-one spot coaching. This involves sitting with agents, listening to calls (both agent and customer by using a headset) and offering advice. Agents will appreciate the personal touch, particularly if the coaching sessions are branded as a way for the agent to grow in the job and reach personal goals.
With a little creativity, call center managers can find ways to boost agents’ knowledge and confidence without having to throw off the schedule by pulling people into a classroom. Spot coaching and mentoring can go a long way toward “filling in the blanks,” and need not leave the call center short-handed.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi