Coaching Call Center Agents in 2024: Effective Techniques and Feedback Examples

Coaching Call Center Agents in 2024: Effective Techniques and Feedback Examples

January 4, 2024 | Convoso

Call center agents are at the core of any customer-facing organization. Their ability to perform can make or break your company’s growth and success.

But performance doesn’t all come down to agents’ innate abilities. Much of it is about what you, as a manager, can draw out of them.

In this guide to coaching call center agents in 2024, we’ll dig into the ways you can get the most out of your sales and support agents. Use these techniques, tips, and tools to take your organization to new heights with top-notch coaching.

The Importance of Call Center Coaching and Feedback

In an industry where customer expectations continue to rise, the ability to deliver seamless sales and support experiences is more vital than ever.

However, even if you’re able to consistently hire the right people for the job, there’s not one agent who won’t benefit from and improve with the help of effective coaching and targeted feedback. As sales expert Jason Cutter puts it: 

“Even if you hired someone who sold exactly what you offer, there would still be unique ways you handle marketing, conversations, processing sales, and fulfilling client orders to teach them. There is no “perfect” person you can hire, hand the role and responsibilities to, and walk away from.”

The same goes for inbound and blended contact center agents handling support. From initial onboarding and training to everyday coaching and feedback, you need to have methods in place to ensure agents are continually honing their skills. 

With the right consistent feedback, you can improve performance and productivity, reduce attrition, and ultimately boost your bottom line.

The Most Effective Call Center Coaching Techniques and Exercises

What does effective contact center coaching look like? It can often be as simple as delivering an insightful piece of feedback in person or over chat. Although oftentimes it should take the form of a concerted exercise. 

Use these techniques—three of our favorites—to set agents up for success before, during, and after their calls.

Role-play

Role-playing is an essential call center coaching technique, whether it’s used to onboard brand-new agents or impart important lessons to more experienced ones. 

While there’s no substitute for the real action of a live call, role-playing gives you an opportunity, as a leader, to understand each agent’s current level of ability and then help them move beyond it.

Use role-playing to run through new scripts, get ready for new campaigns, and test product knowledge. Pair newer, less experienced agents with veterans who can more realistically play the role of customer. Making their star turn as difficult customers, established agents can help teach their peers to listen actively, develop empathy, and ultimately overcome customer objections.

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Call Whisper

Sometimes there’s no better way to deliver coaching than in real time. Contact center software with a call whisper feature enables supervisors to listen in on live calls and deliver real-time advice to the agent without the customer hearing. Offering pointers and helping steer the conversation toward positive outcomes, managers can use call whisper options to help their agents improve on the spot.

Post-call Analysis

Penciling regular sessions to analyze performance, habits, and call outcomes is ideal for ongoing improvement. With the latest contact center quality assurance tools at your disposal, calls can be recorded, transcribed, and automatically analyzed. Using their sentiment analysis abilities, tools like Balto can provide accurate feedback immediately after calls, helping power a productive coaching process. Plus, thanks to the latest Generative AI, managers can actually converse with their QA solution using natural language, gaining actionable insights with prompts as simple as “Show me all of my calls where an agent’s rebuttal failed.” As Balto CEO Marc Bernstein says during a Convoso webinar, today’s call center AI is not only enabling more comprehensive and efficient QA, it’s also helping managers construct and deliver feedback more quickly:

“What used to take five steps now takes one. It used to take a whole bunch of filters and a really good knowledge of speech analytics, programming, and keywords. Now you just type in a box, ‘Show me the calls where this happened.’” – Marc Bernstein, during our “The Revolution of AI in the Call Center” webinar

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6 Important Call Center Coaching Tips

Whether you’re running through prior calls with one agent or approaching your entire team, the following contact center coaching tips can help you make the most impact with each session.

1. Set Clear Expectations

Agents need to know what is expected of them. That goes for each call, every campaign, and their entire tenure as a member of the company. In fact, a lack of clarity around one’s role is among the top reasons behind call center burnout and high agent turnover. Start from an agent’s day one by providing a concrete set of everyday expectations as well as career pathing.

2. Leverage Data and Make Things Concrete

Vague encouragement or criticism won’t drive improved outcomes. Use data-driven insights and specific examples to enhance your coaching sessions. By showing agents how their performance compares to standards or previous calls, you can offer a clear picture of where they need to improve and how they can do it. 

For example, using the call analytics tools described above, you should be able to pinpoint moments where performance wasn’t up to par and offer ways to adjust and improve the next time.

3. Don’t Take the Golden Rule Too Far

While treating others as you would like to be treated is a good rule of thumb, as a manager, you need to remember that everyone has a unique learning style. What works for one agent might not work for another. Get to know your agents and tailor your coaching style to each individual’s needs to maximize their potential.

Jason Cutter says realizing this is one of the most important things for managers to do: 

“The most impactful advice I can give to a new or struggling sales leader is to step back and realize everyone is different, and as long as you treat your team all the same (and in your image), you will never win as a sales leader. When you make that shift and motivate each person on your team in a way they want, speak to them in a way that resonates with them, and hold them accountable to what they say they want, you will win.”

4. Use the “Sandwich” Approach

Everybody’s different, but virtually no agent enjoys hearing negative feedback. When delivering feedback, start with a positive comment, follow with constructive criticism, then end on another positive note. By sandwiching negatives between positives, you can soften the blow of criticism, maintain agent morale, and foster a positive coaching environment.

5. Inject Some Incentives

Incentives for contact center agents serve as tangible motivators and unlock better performance. Incentives can be incorporated within your organization’s compensation model, so long as strike the right balance between fair compensation and incentive-based compensation. Additionally, occasional incentives like spiffs or sales competitions can help create an overall culture of achievement among your agents.

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6. Add to Your Own Expertise

To educate your agents better, educate yourself first.

Particularly when it comes to more complex matters like TCPA compliance, you can’t expect agents to arrive at the information they need on their own. 

To be the best coach you can be, keep up with the latest compliance updates and innovations in the world of contact center technology. Attend industry trade shows and webinars, and grow your network to expose yourself to more and more useful perspectives.

Tools You Need to Improve Call Center Coaching 

The techniques and tips above will help you coach your team to more sales wins and better support experiences. But ultimately, you will struggle to drive maximum success without the right tools on your side. Take your agents’ performance to the next level (and make things easier on yourself in the process) by employing these highly effective contact center software features.

QA Software

QA software for call center teams driven by conversational AI has the potential to give you complete visibility of your team’s calls.

Rather than have your QA team review a few calls per agent each month, you can get tangible data and insights on 100% of your calls. Moreover, these tools give managers the ability to easily identify important “teachable moments” and work more closely with agents to help them grow in their roles. 

Reporting Tools

Without powerful reporting tools to analyze your contact center’s overall performance, you’re basically flying blind.

Be sure that your contact center software offers both granular real-time reporting and automated historical analysis. Using the data generated, you can deliver concrete feedback to individual agents and improve overall strategies. 

Dynamic Scripting

Ultimately, you aren’t going to be able to offer guidance on every single aspect or moment of an agent’s life. (And frankly, that’s not your job!)

So, to ensure that agents have a blueprint for success on every single call, use dynamic scripting software that offers personalized scripts that respond based on customer responses in real time. With dynamic scripting, you can streamline your coaching process, get new agents on the phones even faster, and start driving growth sooner.

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