Contact centres offer new opportunities for agents to shine, but they are not for the faint-hearted. Paul Stemp, Supervisor, Customer Success Management, at Calabrio shares his top confidence-boosting tips for building strong, fearless teams.
Contact centres are an integral part of delivering customer service. However, the role of the agents working in them is rapidly changing. According to Calabrio’s latest State of the Contact Centre Report, 1 in 3 consumers say they see agents as brand representatives rather than low-level service workers. Attempting to meet customer expectations while dealing with new digital technologies and hybrid working arrangements, agents can quickly feel overwhelmed. Therefore, more than ever, agents need support to boost their energy and confidence. What steps can organisations take to build a strong team of agents who love a challenge?
Five Ways to Build Agent Confidence
1. Embrace Brand Guardianship
Competition is now fiercer than ever so encourage agents to become true brand guardians, taking the lead in influencing brand perception and sharing CX best-practice across the whole organisation. Blend product knowledge and problem-solving with softer skills such as empathy and active listening, the hallmarks of good customer conversations. Empower agents with practical coping mechanisms for dealing with frustrated customers. Knowing when to use the word ‘sorry’ sincerely (rather than to pause a difficult interaction) and closing conversations with a positive resolution of, “let’s see how we can put this right,” are simple ways to keep customers on your side while boosting agent confidence, creating a positive experience for both.
2. Welcome “Stupid Questions”
Who hasn’t asked a question for fear of appearing foolish? We’ve all been in that position—too afraid to speak up but eager to learn. It is human nature but can be disastrous in the contact centre. Time and again, agents prefer to keep quiet and pretend to understand performance improvement advice or how to use new systems when they obviously do not. As a result, customers don’t get the responses they need and service suffers while agents don’t change their behaviours and lose self-esteem.
Let agents know it’s okay to ask “stupid questions” during team meetings, group training sessions and even 1-2-1s. After all, questions are never stupid if they give agents the answers, and confidence they need to deliver better customer experiences.
3. Spotlight Personal Strengths
Personal traits and strengths can drive behaviours that can result in positive customer outcomes such as enhanced customer satisfaction ratings, greater customer loyalty and ultimately, new sales. So, when an agent does something well such as demonstrating empathy while dealing with an angry customer, instead of regurgitating stale ‘sorry’ excuses, stand up, take notice and say, ‘well done!’
With the help of call recording and quality management, it’s easy for supervisors to identify quick wins and let agents know they did an excellent job. Also, it allows management to show appreciation for an employee’s efforts and highlight how they bring tangible value to the business. Giving praise links good behaviours to the right customer results and reinforces an agent’s belief in their own ability.
4. Show Agents How Their Performance Is Improving
Contact centres often use leader boards to gamify customer conversations. While these are excellent motivators for those at the top, they can deliver a repeated blow to self-confidence for those languishing in the lower echelons. Aim to create personalised agent dashboards that benchmark performance against specific KPIs in a highly visual way to encourage self-improvement and build confidence. Consider involving the Operations Department, encouraging them to add real-time data and good customer/supervisor feedback to provide agents with positive validation of their skills and achievements. Then sit back and watch personal belief, performance, and engagement levels soar.
5. Unleash The Empowering Force Of Analytics
Many contact centre managers (42%) are empowering their agents by investing in the ‘right tools and technology’. For the biggest confidence-boosting benefits, combine agent-empowering tools with modern-day analytics. New ‘lifestyle’ tech such as self-service automation allows frontline staff to build and edit their own schedules, giving them greater control over their working day and greater confidence to manage the most challenging customer conversations.
Add Voice of the Customer (VoC) analytics to release intelligent insights that give agents a complete understanding of their end-to-end interactions including mood every step of the customer journey. The beauty of these analytics-fuelled innovations is they are also beneficial to management, enabling supervisors for example, to uncover potential knowledge and skills gaps to refine and strengthen agent coaching and training.
For more confidence-boosting tips, visit www.calabrio.com
About the Author
Paul Stemp is Supervisor, Customer Success Management at Calabrio
Calabrio is a trusted ally to leading brands. The digital foundation of a customer-centric contact center, the Calabrio ONE workforce performance suite helps enrich and understand human interactions, empowering your contact center as a brand guardian. We maximize agent performance, exceed customer expectations, and boost workforce efficiency using connected data, AI-fueled analytics, automated workforce management, and personalized coaching. Only Calabrio ONE unites workforce optimization (WFO), agent engagement, and business intelligence solutions into a true-cloud, fully integrated suite that adapts to your business.