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Improving the Customer Experience with Contact Center Coaching 

Improving the Customer Experience with Contact Center Coaching

Improving the Customer Experience with Contact Center Coaching

11/30/2005
By Donna Fluss
ICCM Weekly

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Contact centers, whether engaged primarily in service or sales, are people-intensive organizations that require tools to improve their effectiveness. There is a multi-billion-dollar market place of technologies and tools for contact centers. The better tools, systems and applications improve agent productivity and quality.

What are Coaching Applications?

Coaching applications were introduced to contact centers a few years ago by quality management vendors, who saw coaching both as a way to rapidly apply the “lessons” derived from the quality management evaluation process and as an automated method for efficiently communicating with agents. Coaching is not eLearning, nor is it intended to be a full learning management system (LMS). Rather, coaching is an easy-to-use module for sending information or best practice clips to agents. Users do not need specialized skills to create content for a coaching application.

Coaching Benefits

Coaching applications have a ready user base, contact center supervisory staff, who can cost justify these products in less than six months, realizing significant financial benefits while reducing their administrative burden. Coaching yields compelling and tangible results when implemented in a contact center environment. The quantifiable benefits from coaching include increased agent productivity and satisfaction, reduced agent attrition, enhanced call quality and customer satisfaction and improved first call resolution rates. This translates into a better customer experience and a more loyal customer base. And when best practice clips are utilized, increases in lead generation and sales closures directly result in new customers and revenue growth.

How Coaching Works

Coaching applications allow supervisors to communicate with agents in near- real time. Supervisors, trainers or QM specialists can create a coaching session from a captured call (voice and screen) or from another file, such as PowerPoint, Word, Excel, PDF, URL, in approximately 5 to 10 minutes. When creating clips, users are generally able to annotate the file with detailed comments. For example, while completing a quality evaluation, a supervisor may discover that an agent did not follow the correct procedure. The supervisor captures the appropriate call and screen segment, includes written annotations to identify the specific problem area, attaches a link to a document that details the correct procedure, and sends the coaching clip back to the agent for review.

Clips can be sent to an individual agent, a group of agents or to an entire contact center. Agents receive the coaching sessions at their workstations and can replay the interaction with their supervisor’s comments at their desks, using their headsets. If desired, after reviewing the coaching session, agents can insert verbal or written annotations and send their responses back to the supervisor. After finishing the coaching session, the agent can indicate in the system that the review has been completed.

Once the coaching clip is created and delivered to one or more agents, the supervisor can monitor agents’ progress with assigned coaching sessions and the completion status to make sure that everyone participates.

Using Coaching to Enhance Classroom Training

Coaching overcomes many of the traditional challenges associated with one-on-one coaching methods, specifically, time constraints and limits on frequency and documentation. Coaching sessions can generally be created by supervisors or trainers within 10 minutes. They can be distributed to agents on a timely basis and do not require supervisors to take agents off the phone. This allows supervisors to address agent performance opportunities on a timely basis, and to regularly coach and provide feedback on performance strengths and weaknesses. The value of this near-real time performance feedback to agents can be significant and quantifiable. Let’s say for example, in the course of monitoring, a supervisor hears an agent use an excellent technique for closing a sale. Using the recorded interaction, the supervisor can create a best practice clip and incorporate his/her comments into the coaching module. The supervisor sends it out to all agents as an example of a best practice. In addition to providing recognition and positive feedback to the outstanding agent, the supervisor has created a coaching session that will provide other agents with a specific example to emulate and duplicate in order to achieve successful results. Since completion of the coaching session and post-completion performance is tracked and documented by the system, the supervisor can tie the impact of the coaching session directly to agent performance.

Coaching Functionality

While most coaching applications include similar capabilities, functional differences exist among them. For example, some coaching applications include real-time chat between supervisors and agents when live interactions are monitored. Many coaching applications enable the supervisor to store best practice clips for insertion into eLearning modules, or share these clips with a department outside of the contact center. If speech analytics is used in the contact center, coaching modules can also allow supervisors to target coaching sessions based on call types, such as new product, complaints (emotion detection), billing problems, etc. Figure 1 below presents a comparison of coaching functionality from the quality management vendors that offer this capability.

Figure 1: Coaching
Functionality/Vendor Envision etalk NICE Verint Witness
Name of coaching application Envision Click-2-Coach Qfiniti NICE Perform Coaching ULTRA IntelliCoach eQuality Producer
Application integrated into the quality management environment so that a supervisor/reviewer can assign a coaching session and track completion status, without switching into the eLearning environment Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Application can track agent performance or skill level after coaching is completed Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Recorded interactions (voice and screens) or edited interactions can be used to create coaching clips Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Coaching or best practice clips can be created in 5 to 10 minutes using recorded interactions (voice and screen) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Other files can be attached to the coaching clip, such as agent evaluations, agent emails, customer surveys, Word or PowerPoint documents, html links Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Best practice clips can be stored, inserted into eLearning modules or distributedto external areas Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Supervisors/reviewers can add verbal or written annotations to a clip Yes-both Yes-both Yes-both Yes-both Yes-both
Agents can listen to a coaching session over their headsets/handsets Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Agents can respond verbally/ in writing within a coaching module and send their comments back to the supervisor Yes-both Yes-both Yes-both No In writing

Coaching Market

The providers of coaching modules are (in alphabetical order) Envision, etalk, NICE, Witness and Verint. These are quality management/liability recording vendors who have expanded their suites to include additional functionality, including coaching. e-Glue is an emerging vendor that puts a real-time spin on contact center coaching.

Bottom Line

Coaching requires no special training or software development expertise. Its efficiency, ease of use, and rapid return on investment make it a valuable tool for supervisors and agents alike. The coaching module integrates directly into the quality monitoring environment, effectively augmenting and enhancing existing processes. The advantages of coaching are that it delivers near-real time feedback – a critical element of agent development and satisfaction – and can be personalized. It targets specific performance situations, in context. And since the system tracks performance and reports issues back to the agent and supervisor, it provides a complete closed loop workflow.

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