If you’re managing a customer support team, then you’re as much a coach as you are a supervisor.
You make sure your representatives are in the right positions, but most importantly, that everyone is motivated to do their best work.
Good coaches make their players better, but great coaches go the extra mile and continue making themselves better as well. Your gut instincts can point you in the right direction, but making use of the facts will help you measure your achievements.
Detailed call analytics can tell you when your team is performing well, and when things need improvement, they can be a tool for education and inspiration, on a macro and micro level.
Understand Your Ups and Downs
Have calls-per-agent decreased since the latest UI update? Has your recent hire exhibited a normal learning curve over his or her first few months? Did adding seasonal employees keep workloads reasonable through the holiday shopping rush?
“Zooming out” to a wider time frame will give you a better idea of overall trends and benchmarks.
The answers will be apparent from a high level, and you’ll be able to plan your course-of-action appropriately.
In times of heightened activity — maybe around the holidays or other seasonal surges — it might make sense to keep an eye on how your team is performing in a daily or weekly view. These are the moments where everything counts double.
Each customer could be a potential product evangelist or a vocal detractor. Long calls mean something is awry — i.e. with the service or product — but either way, you’ll want to get to the bottom of what’s happening.
Identify Coaching Opportunities
If your team utilizes call tags, you’ll be able to easily see what types of inquiries give your team the most trouble. Scheduling periodic training sessions around these subject areas will pay off in terms of call duration, calls per agent, and customer wait times.
Increased duration might also coincide with a new feature or policy. If this is the case, take time to bring all team members up to speed — maintaining product fluency is an ongoing task.
Side note: Heightened per-call duration could potentially be an indicator of something outside support’s purview. Was a glitchy app update just deployed? Did your company launch a complicated new product? More calls and longer conversations could be an indication of suboptimal UX or user-instructions. An attentive leader stays in-the-know of possible exterior influences.
On a more personal level, individual agents can benefit from the clarity of analytics as well. Newly trained representatives, as well as support-veterans, aren’t immune from slumps in productivity and morale. When you see call duration go up and volume decrease, your coaching instincts should kick in. Each employee has their own wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to the table — they’re valuable resources that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Here, as when addressing the whole team, you can use the analytics and tagging features to identify areas for improvement.
New hires can shadow more experienced representatives for assistance, while practiced agents can study-up on aspects of the product or services where they feel uncertain. Real-time training features like call monitoring and call whispering — which allow admins to listen-in on active calls and provide information and guidance as necessary — can be utilized to boost agent confidence.
Judge Training Effectiveness
Have your training sessions had an impact on performance? Call duration is a good indicator of success in this regard, and long-term patterns should ideally stay constant or trend downward. A broad view of the data can reveal both successes and areas for improvement.
When the graphs are moving in the right direction, it’s every coach’s job to know when to let his or her team simply play. Data obsessions and the ensuing nitpicky-management-style can lead to resentment amongst the troops.
When the opposite is the case though, try to pinpoint the true source of tension, train accordingly, and keep an eye on the graphs afterward. Give any targeted training a little time to sink-in — consider checking back after a few weeks. This should be enough time to sufficiently practice any new scripts or study-up on new features.
Feel free to go beyond the statistics as well. Do your agents feel more confident in handling complex inquiries on their own? Have specific areas of concern been better illuminated? The occasional retrospective and “water-cooler” conversation can go a long way in guiding and informing your training sessions. Just be sure to create an open and comfortable environment for dialogue— complete honesty will reap the greatest rewards.
Reward High Performers
Customer service and support is an industry inherently susceptible to morale issues. How could it not be? Most times, customers call when things have gone wrong, perhaps after multiple self-help attempts have already been made. Patience might be wearing thin, and your agents are the first actual person to whom they can (usually incorrectly) assign blame.
Detailed analytics will help you evaluate your team on a holistic and personal basis. The data can be a great motivator for both team leaders and those with room to grow.
When individual agents distinguish themselves as knowledgeable and productive, it’s good to already have a plan in place. Acknowledging these successes can take many forms.
Promoting from within gives support representatives a tangible goal and reward for their superior service. These exceptional agents can, and should, become your team leaders and coaches themselves. They’re a great source of knowledge and can offer valuable insights into consumer opinions and company operations.
On smaller teams, where direct promotion is not always an option, acknowledgment can take the form of performance bonuses. Monetary compensation isn’t always the solution, even small tokens (gift cards, etc.) signifying your company’s approval of quality work can make support reps feel appreciated (as they should be).
The equipment doesn’t make the coach…
As with all aspects of customer service, empathy and communication reign supreme. Your experience in the support industry should be your true north, and the data analytics should supplement it. A wide-ranging approach that takes into consideration both consumer happiness and call data will always provide a complete picture of your operation.
Published on September 6, 2023.