Off Center
 
Sometimes the best coaching in the contact center comes from folks who don’t even work there.

As experienced and proficient as your supervisors and team leads might be at providing feedback on how agents can improve, it’s your customers’ direct comments that often have the biggest impact on agent development.

This is not to suggest that agents don’t require and value feedback from their superiors as well as from experienced peers, but there’s something about hearing things straight from the customer’s mouth that causes agents to really stand up and take notice. (Just make sure they don’t stand up for too long – they might end up out of adherence.) Having your supervisor tell you that you need to work on your empathy doesn’t hit you quite the same way as reading “The agent I spoke to had all the charm of a morgue attendant” on a survey completed by a customer you recently interacted with. Where agents may occasionally feel a supervisor’s or QA specialist’s take on their performance is subjective and unfair, there’s no arguing with the “voice of the customer”.

Some contact centers have modeled their entire quality program around the “customer as coach” concept. The North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) is one such center. The NTTA uses a VOC/performance management tool that enables the contact center to efficiently capture agent-specific customer feedback across all contact channels. Supervisors then share this feedback with agents to identify behaviors and skills that need improvement as well as those worthy of positive recognition. The center’s agents can access the system themselves whenever they want to view direct customer feedback on recently handled contacts. As much as 50% of the feedback received by agents following a monitoring session and during annual reviews comes directly from customers.

The NTTA’s agents wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Agents love the initiative,” says John Bannerman, Assistant Director of the NTTA’s Contact Center. “They get far more positive feedback from customers than a supervisor would have time to provide for their entire team on a daily basis. This provides encouragement and motivation for agents to continue doing things well, and makes them more willing to accept suggestions for improvement.”

Whether you share customer comments taken from post-contact surveys, emails/letters sent from customers, customer’s direct conversations with supervisors/managers (following an escalated call, etc.), or from gas station bathroom walls, those words can do a whole lot to engage (or wake up) agents and drive them to overcome challenging performance barriers.

Your customers are much more than just potential revenue sources lined up in a virtual queue; they are viable contact center coaches. It doesn’t matter if they know this or not – what matters is that you do.



11/15/2012 10:11:50 pm

Thanks for the article, Greg. What software does NTTA use to capture customer feedback?

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11/15/2012 10:22:17 pm

Thank you, Tom -- glad you enjoyed the piece.

The solution that The NTTA uses is called Customer Driven Management (CDM), developed by Tamer Partners Corporation (www.tamerpartners.com). I actually wrote an entire article on The NTTA's use of the solution a few months ago -- here's the link to that article: http://www.offcenterinsight.com/2/post/2011/12/contact-centerfold-of-the-month-december-2011-the-north-texas-tollway-authority.html

Feel free to reach out to Tamer Partners Corp if you want to learn more. Tell them I sent ya!

Best of luck,

Greg

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11/19/2012 04:13:20 am

I think having the customer as coach as part of your training program is a great idea. Agents can respond right away to situations that are still fresh in their mind. "Remember that one time you said that thing to that customer about..." six months down the road doesn't really help that much.

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11/19/2012 04:16:48 am

You've got that right, Trish -- timeliness is everything in coaching.

Thanks for your input!

Best,

Greg

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