Creating an All-Star Contact Center Team:
Your Customers are the Coach

by Dr. Jodie Monger

How is it, just like certain players, some companies stand out from the rest, and their contact centers are MVPs. It’s because everyone knows what to do. They know how to pick which agents for the right position. Their rookies even shine. Before every season they wonder “To train or not to train”… that is the question… really? No, it is not. Training is something that all contact centers do, but only the All-Stars know how to do it well. Do they train and coach on soft and hard skills? Do they effectively train new CSRs before they let them loose on the customers? How does the contact center train and coach its seasoned players? Therefore, the question should really be “To train the right way or not to train the right way?” Or more simply, are you training the right agents at the right time with the right information? If not, the competition is already at the All-Star game and you are sitting at home, watching it on TV like everyone else.

How do you build your team to be loaded with All-Stars and not a bunch of benchwarmers, thus enabling you to shut out your competition? You do it by taking your customer feedback results down to the agent level and blend those scores with your monitoring and operational metric scores. This will guarantee that the right CSRs are getting the right training and coaching at the right time from the most important perspective…the customers’. Okay, sounds simple. If it’s so simple, why are so few contact centers training and coaching and, therefore, creating a team of Stars in this way? In a time when contact centers are being forced to do more with less, training and coaching seem to be one of the first items to be cut. Then management wonders why they have a team full of benchwarmers and the All- Star CSRs and customers are leaving just like free agents.

How do you judge your ROI on training, or do you even try? If you could prove to management that your training program has a high ROI and can produce All-Stars, it would serve as an excellent argument as to why it is not an area to cut, but rather for investment. You must direct your training and coaching costs to the right agents for the right skills, i.e. hire a pitching coach for the pitcher and an infield coach for the infielders, and your ROI will increase tremendously. It is not always just about costs; the problem also lies in the traditional training, coaching and monitoring methods that contact centers use.

Most training involves large groups, all getting trained on the same information at the same time. While this may be okay for training new material, research shows retention from initial training is low and therefore greater impact and ROI is realized when effective ongoing coaching to reinforce the initial training occurs. While monitoring provides some individualized training for ongoing coaching and reinforcement, this is only a piece of the puzzle. Agents are still getting trained or monitored on what the monitoring form and scoring formula deems necessary. But what about what customers think is needed? Very few contact centers include direct customer feedback in their quality assurance or training programs. But there is an effective way to incorporate it and also a quantifiable way to increase the ROI on training, coaching and monitoring.

To get a complete view of the field and provide your organization with actionable intelligence from this information, three pieces of the scorecard are necessary - the quality monitoring piece, the call metrics (AHT, ATT, Call per day, etc.) and the piece that is most often forgotten – the voice of the customer.

The best way to get an accurate and reliable Voice of the Customer (VOC) measurement is through realtime post-call surveys. These effective customer surveys are completed immediately after the interaction with the CSR. Through this method, the customer information, including qualitative and quantitative, can be directly linked to the CSR who handled the interaction. Qualitative information is collected through solicitation of customer comments and explanations about the interaction while quantitative information is through survey questions for performance ratings, e.g., agent knowledge, being treated as a valued customer and did the agent understand the reason for the call. This method gives you the Voice of the Customers, literally in their own words. Customer intelligence will allow you to turn benchwarmers into All-Stars.

This powerful tool allows direct access to specific details about the interaction with the customer and pinpoints, better than any other tool, specific behaviors that agents can be trained upon. Continuous improvement by the CSRs is what makes an All-Star customer service team. By using the Voice of the Customer, greater customer and employee satisfaction is achieved. Agents are happier in their position on the team because compensation and scoring are tied to more meaningful KPIs and more meaningful feedback and development is possible. As research continues to prove, with happier agents come happier customers.

And how can management argue with actual customer feedback? Post-call surveys give you the right information, at the right time, for the right agent. A continuous measurement program allows for an ongoing ROI assessment to occur regarding your coaching and training efforts. Improvement by the CSRs is recognized by the callers and evaluations continue to improve. The business case becomes possible when the voice of the customer is available. Then, it’s up to you to take the information and train and coach the right way. After that, your customers will think your agents should be in the Hall of Fame.


Dr. Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the President of Customer Relationship Metrics, L.C., (www.Metrics.net). Prior to joining Metrics, she was the founding Associate Director of Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality. Her expertise is working with Fortune 1000 companies to help them create post-call survey programs using CATs® (Completely Automated Telephone surveys). To schedule an interview with Dr. Jodie please contact Jim Rembach at 877-550-0223 or info@Metrics.net .

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Copyright 2005 by Jodie Monger. All rights reserved.

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