In sales-based contact centers, agent performance is critical. Not only are revenues tied to sales effectiveness, but the information contained in customer conversations can be used to promote marketing programs and identify new sales opportunities.
Aberdeen research shows that, despite the rapid growth of new communications channels (social, live chat, email, etc.), voice interactions are an integral part of customer care programs for the majority (94%) of businesses. But what happens when agents fall short of customer expectations? What can contact center managers and supervisors do to improve sales effectiveness for agents?
The following is a look at 5 ways to deliver constructive (and motivating) feedback to sales teams, ultimately improving agent performance and the customer experience, which in turn, will help to improve call center performance:
1. Make Feedback Immediate
When it comes to delivering feedback to call center agents, there’s no point in delaying the inevitable. Prompt feedback, delivered in a constructive manner, can help supervisors and agents quickly address an issue and come to an agreeable solution. Performance management solutions such as myEureka can assist with this process by providing direct performance feedback that managers and supervisors can then take to agents; such data allows managers to determine where their agents excel and where they may need improvement.
2. Offer Training Opportunities
Beyond just delivering insights gleaned from speech analytics solutions, managers can also use this data to create call center training opportunities for agents. Lack of confidence in agents often results from a lack of proper training and product knowledge. With training programs in place, managers and supervisors can put real-time performance feedback into action in a way that will enable agents to succeed over the long term.
3. Be Specific
One of the most important parts of delivering feedback to agents is remembering to be specific. As HR consultant Heather Foley notes in a Call Centre Helper article, “You need to be specific for it to be helpful.” Foley recommends using the word “perception” to avoid coming across as accusatory (i.e., “My perception is you’ve been arriving at work later and seem distracted when talking with customers”). That way, agents won’t necessarily go on the defensive and it will be easier to come to a solution amenable to all parties involved.
4. Build Agent Confidence
Sometimes, despite a manager’s best efforts to make the conversation constructive, agents will become discouraged by the feedback they receive. In these cases, it’s the manager or supervisor’s job to build their confidence back up so they’re motivated to succeed. Nick Drake-Knight, consultant to global customer service and B2C sales operators, says sales confidence comes from a number of factors: product knowledge, customer knowledge, experience, etc. By comparing an agent’s assessment of sales confidence against a supervisor’s, it’s easier to identify the gaps and put a professional development plan in place for the future.
5. Agree On Next Steps
As Foley also mentions, there’s one final piece of delivering feedback to agents: agreeing on what the next concrete action will be and when it will be completed. In order to capture specific insights and action items proposed during the discussion, it’s a good idea for managers to document discussion points and map out specific goals for long-term professional development. Doing so allows agents to come away from the discussion feeling both productive and motivated to reach personal goals.
Let’s face it: Giving constructive criticism is never easy. But, as outlined above, there’s a way to deliver feedback to agents that inspires them to put their best foot forward. The key is to approach the conversation in the right manner, using performance data gathered from speech analytics and providing specific examples of areas that need improvement.
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