Coaching in the Call Center: Going Beyond A Checklist
While every day at Cogito might be different, there is one thing that hasn’t faded in my two years with this creative, innovative team – my excitement at getting the opportunity to work with a new group of future Cogicians (certified users of Cogito’s real-time coaching technology). I always want to dive in headfirst, figure out what motivates the agents and engage in a collaborative dialogue around: how they are coached, what skills their company values and where they think their supervisors feel they might need more guidance and assistance to go from great, to extremely emotionally intelligent.
This last topic, emotional intelligence, is where we usually spend most of our time and the majority of the exploratory meetings before our full day of Leader Immersion training. This is also whereas an Enablement Consultant, my excitement kicks in – I have the opportunity to shape the way these users become certified Cogicians!
Making A List, And Checking It Twice
Every call center is different, of course, but one theme holds true across the board: from supervisors to team leaders, senior agents and beyond, each level of management evaluates their team members with the infamous “scorecard checklist.” While these checklists typically cover a host of KPIs, leaders are most commonly evaluating to see if the agent has: used specific phrasing during their calls, if they were able to complete certain in-call and post-call tasks and even if they were able to keep calls under a certain average length of time. The list is long, but one thing it typically lacks is a clear, concise and measurable way to check on all of the soft skills and good conversational behaviors that make each call go from a good experience to an excellent one. These conversational skills, ones which demonstrate emotion at a precise time, practice active or passive listening, check tone and pace as well as back-channeling and are indeed hard to measure – but that’s where Cogito’s solution and the Enablement team come into play.
There is no questioning the importance of focusing on the various KPIs that call center supervisors and team leads need to track every day. Survey results, NPS scores and Voice of Customer ratings are all vital facets of a business and often contribute to the way in which agents and team leaders are incentivized. However, what we at Cogito find time and time again – during our side-by-side shadowing of call center leaders and agents – is that across the board, there’s a consistent challenge to remember the numerous “behind the scenes” factors that help move the needle on these vital KPIs.
It’s Not Just What You Say, It’s How You Say It
There is something to be said for being just plain “good at conversation” and honing soft skills. When a conversation with a customer is framed in a positive light and an agent spends time actively listening to what the caller has to say, all of the various KPIs that are linked with their performance will inevitably move in the right direction. This is typically done through side-by-side coaching. But, anyone who has spent time in a call center knows that a supervisor can’t listen in all day, nor be on every call, every day. As a matter of fact, most of the supervisors I meet during training sessions mention that they do call listening once or twice a month because schedules simply don’t allow for more.
Cogito provides an opportunity for supervisors to focus on the important things when planning and preparing for their individual coaching conversations with advocates. Our AI coach is present on every single call, guiding the agent on how to better their conversational behaviors. Coaches and supervisors can review feedback before 1:1 meetings or quality control evaluations and prepare clear and objective feedback for how agents can improve their call results while using Cogito as their “secret weapon” for success. Having real-time feedback on every call their agents manage is a game-changer for the leaders we train and we enjoy seeing the way their coaching conversations are transformed!
Better Coaching Helps Go the Extra Mile
At Cogito, we’ve learned that feedback for agents isn’t just one-sided and can’t focus solely on the KPIs without enabling them with opportunities to learn how to better navigate any kind of conversation and call situation to improve their performance. And we’ve learned that the more agents are supplied with helpful feedback, the more they are interested in improving their performance – increasing their sense of involvement and satisfaction, all while supplying them with soft skills that will be of use to them no matter where their careers take them. A true win, win, win.