Upgrade Agent Performance Coaching to Combat Stress

Overcome sources of agent stress by rethinking performance coaching

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Upgrade Agent Performance Coaching to Combat Stress
Contact CentreInsights

Published: March 30, 2022

Charlie Mitchell

“In the time of hybrid work, care is the new currency,” says Jen Docken, Software Product Marketing Manager at Calabrio.

Unfortunate statistics regarding high stress in modern, hybrid contact centre environments support this statement. Consider the Calabrio Health of the Contact Centre: Agent Wellbeing report. It reveals that:

  • 96% of agents feel acutely stressed at least once a week
  • 33% of agents feel acutely stressed multiple times a week

The study also highlights the significant reasons behind these worrying figures. For example, 36% of agents struggle with complex customer issues. An incredible 73% say that rising customer expectations are a “top challenge”.

Upgrade Agent Performance Coaching to Combat Stress
Here are some additional statistics from Calabrio’s thought-provoking report

Yet, maybe the most pertinent data showcases what agents want most. Flexibility (34%), a sense of career path (34%) and more training (24%) are all agent desires.

Many data driven tools and automation aided techniques can cater for these. For instance, the latest workforce management self-service technologies give agents unprecedented schedule flexibility.

Yet, enhancing performance coaching processes is perhaps the best method of meeting agent preferences and preparing the team to deal with rising complexity and expectations. Connecting coaching and Quality Assurance (QA) is an excellent starting place.

Connect Coaching and Quality Assurance

Here is how contact centre coaching initiatives often work. Operations spot a customer experience (CX) metric issue before asking coaches to develop a training programme to overcome it. After working hard to create a programme, coaches deliver it and agents say that they feel more confident in dealing with customer queries. The goal is achieved – or is it?

So, what’s the issue? There is no guarantee that agents will not revert to old habits. In addition, the agents may receive conflicting advice from quality analysts during evaluations and from their performance coaches, causing confusion.

However, if the coaching team works closely with the QA department, they can create a follow-up QA initiative for post-training reinforcement, driving better performance.

Such co-operation is just the tip of the iceberg. The two teams may also unite to isolate and address performance gaps, develop shared performance standards and align training materials. By achieving these goals, contact centres set clear expectations for agents and enhance coaching practices.  This serves to better prepare the team for challenging customer queries that can create stress.

Design Shared Performance Standards

Designing shared performance standards and criteria for QA scorecards is no easy feat. During a recent Calabrio webinar, Docken suggested that leaders: “Take a look at company objectives and consider how to align them to the quality programme.” What agent behaviours bring them to life?

Additional research into how these behaviours drive customer satisfaction is a worthwhile initiative. The contact centre is then able to determine the significance of each performance standard and balance the scorecard.

Yet, Docken also reminds us that teams must not only think about customers when creating performance standards. There are three key stakeholders to consider – customers, agents and the broader business. As such, when designing performance standards, think about:

  • Do they relate to your customer’s success?
  • Do they relate to your organisational success?
  • Do they relate to your agent’s success?

After developing these standards and ensuring that everyone has the same vision of excellent performance, coaching and QA teams can establish a process for dealing with performance gaps.

For example, when should coaches act on QA trends, create improvement plans and follow up? All this is much easier with performance coaching software join-up the dots.

Share a Performance Coaching Platform

Performance coaching software encourages collaboration between coaching and QA teams. For example, they can assess the same view of performance trends, contacts and flag interactions that offer excellent learning opportunities.

Yet, thinking more strategically, the solution also enables a connected learning strategy. Its analytics capabilities identify performance gaps, which the contact centre can address with bespoke coaching or embedded e-learning models. The QA team can then monitor the impact of these to assess the effectiveness of coaches and training materials.

Determining the effectiveness of coaches is a consideration that many overlook. Yet, Therese Fruth, a Product Knowledge Manager at Calabrio, underlines the benefits of doing so. She says:

“Taking the time to evaluate their specific strengths will help the team cross-train coaches, so the contact centre creates a unified coaching platform that sends a unified message to agents. Thus, strengthening the loyalty and confidence of the entire department”

Inviting coaches to join calibration sessions to score contacts will help agents improve further. A good performance coaching tool should facilitate this process, ensuring that everyone perceives scorecard criteria in the same way.

Performance coaching technology can also bolster connected learning strategies in other regards. For example, some technologies:

  • Isolate agent growth opportunities: Allowing managers to assess how agents use the tools at their disposal while tracking performance across multiple channels, interactions and KPIs.
  • Engage agents in performance improvement: Providing integrations with learning management systems to offer training that addresses agent performance gaps. The solution may also connect with gamification tools to reward progress and success.

Such capabilities are all available as part of the Performance Coaching add-on to Quality Management within the Calabrio ONE suite. Combining QA and performance coaching data in one solution to enhance connected learning experiences benefits agent, supervisor and customer experiences.

Is it time to invest in performance coaching software? Calabrio is a specialist in the workforce engagement management technology. To find out more, check out its agent performance coaching solution


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