Sipping My Dark Italian Roast and Doing a Run-through for, “Coaching & Monitoring”

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I’m sitting at my desk, sipping my dark Italian roast latte and doing a run-through of tomorrow’s web training, “Coaching & Monitoring” and boy, am I excited! This is such an important training because it addresses head-on the 4 biggest challenges supervisors and managers face with monitoring and coaching customer service employee:

  1. How to design the most effective monitoring form
  2. How to address problem performance in the most diplomatic way
  3. How to deal with whining and complaining employees
  4. How to hold employees accountable for making improvement

So often I find that supervisors don’t monitor and coach consistently and if they are consistent with recording calls, they aren’t always strong and confident in giving constructive feedback. Without feedback, there really is no value in recording calls.

Continue reading “Sipping My Dark Italian Roast and Doing a Run-through for, “Coaching & Monitoring””

3 Ways to Get Quality Contact Center Monitoring Right

If you can dream it, you can do it

The goal was to motivate customer service employees to deliver a better customer experience by monitoring calls and giving feedback on calls. The manager carefully crafted a monitoring form, which would be used to measure everything from listening skills to friendliness, to empathy. Each dimension on the score sheet was rated on a 5-point scale after supervisors listened to a random sample of calls between employees and customers.

Two months into the new quality monitoring plan, employees were complaining about the “fairness” of scores, supervisors were stressed as they struggled to find time to listen to calls, coach employees and record all the data.

Just 5 months after introducing the new quality plan, management acknowledged that the plan was thrown together without proper research or knowledge, it was too difficult to manage, and employees perceived the program as unfair. The entire plan was benched.

This, friends, is a really good example of how not to do a quality monitoring plan. Quality monitoring programs must motivate employees to perform at optimal levels, be easy to manage, and certainly they must be fair. Today I will explore with you 3 ways to Get Quality Monitoring Right.

One. Let Employees Listen to Their Own Calls

Dealing with problems is what I do

Continue reading “3 Ways to Get Quality Contact Center Monitoring Right”

What Gets Measured Gets Improved (Contact Center Monitoring + Includes Sneak Peak at Zappos Monitoring Form)

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What Gets Measured Gets Improved

In 2015 I lost 22 pounds. While working on getting my weight down I hopped on the scale every morning. Many would say that weighing daily can discourage you or that it’s just not a smart approach to weight loss. I disagree.

My daily weigh-ins allowed me to celebrate my weight loss when I was on track and immediately know when I needed make a change in my caloric intake and/or exercise when I wasn’t losing weight.

It was Peter Drucker who said what gets measured gets improved. He was right. Measuring (daily) helped me improve my weight. And it can help you improve your customer experience.

I am not suggesting you measure your agents or your customer experience daily. So you can relax. I am saying that you need to measure agents and your overall customer experience. And you need to measure often.

One of the “scales” for your customer experience is your monitoring form.

The scale that helps you measure and make real improvements is your monitoring form. A well-designed monitoring form, combined with courageous and consistent agent coaching, helps you improve your customer experience.

Pull out your quality monitoring form this month. Carefully review the dimensions you’re measuring. Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Are there things we should be measuring that we aren’t currently measuring?
  • Are we measuring things that don’t truly impact the customer experience in ways that matter?
  • Do the ratings assigned to customer experience dimensions correlate to the value of the dimensions? For example, is empathy critical to your overall customer experience, yet it carries little to no weight on your form? Is empathy even measured on your form?
  • Is the form concise and clear, clear enough for agents to truly understand your evaluation of their performance?
  • How often do we monitor calls and give agents feedback? Once a quarter is not enough. Neither is once a month. Quality assurance monitoring in a call center needs to take place a minimum of weekly.
  • Do we simply “coach the numbers” when discussing the monitoring results with agents? The goal, of course, is to improve performance. Numbers matter, but they are just a tool to guide you in feedback discussions. Rather than focusing on a score, focus your conversations on how to help agents improve their interactions with customers.

If I’m supporting your customer experience in a consultative relationship, chances are excellent that I have already reviewed and ripped your quality monitoring form and given you a new form that measures what matters.

If I’m not working with you and you want a great example of a monitoring form that is strategically designed to measure what matters, take a look at Zappos’ Monitoring form.

What gets measured gets improved. Whether that is weight loss or the customer experience, this holds true.

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We Need to Talk About How You Coach Your Employees

Live Webinar with Myra Golden

This new program contains a step-by-step approach to coaching agents to deliver the best customer interactions and designing (or re-designing) a monitoring form that improves agent interactions.

And right now, you can get a special $50 discount when you use code COACHBETTER2016, but only if you hurry.  Go to:
https://myragolden.com/webinar_WeNeed2Talk.php

You’ll gain a new sense of confidence, satisfaction and
pride in your quality assurance efforts and lower your stress level.

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How do we get call center agents to buy-in to a quality call monitoring and coaching program?

Hi. We’re looking for ways to create buy-in among our call center agents for our quality call monitoring program.

Myra’s answer to How do we get call center agents to buy-in to a quality call monitoring and coaching program? 

You’re in for a treat for this response because I’ve taken a segment right out of my Supervising, Coaching & Progressive Discipline Webinar and I’m sharing secrets lawyers use in the courtroom -secrets supervisors can apply immediately to prepare for difficult conversations with employees.

1. Give evidence of performance to employee. In litigation, prosecutors are required to turn all of their evidence over to the defense. In order to be fair to employees, supervisors need to do the same thing. Tony frequently received disturbing memos from his district manager about his poor performance on sales calls. “You failed to cover the Five Points for Sales Excellence with a customer last month. This is unacceptable.” Tony never received a monitoring sheet spelling out the discrepancies, never heard a tape of a recorded call, and he didn’t even have the opportunity to defend himself because the cowardly manager simply shot her message off in a cold blunt memo.

Giving feedback the way Tony’s district manager does is dangerous. It certainly isn’t motivating Tony to improve. Moreover, because the manager has provided no proof of the calls – no score sheet, no recording of the call, no date or time, and not even one specific statement about Tony’s alleged ineffectiveness – Tony can’t even defend his performance.

When monitoring and coaching employees, ALWAYS turn over the evidence of the call to them. This evidence may include a recorded call, Mystery Shopper score sheet, detailed notes from customer’s account, etc.

2. Prepare for employee performance meetings in advance. No attorney would conduct a direct examination or cross examination without thoroughly and carefully pre planning their questions. I always prepare a loose script prior to meeting with employees about problem performance, even though I don’t actually read from my script. Writing the discussion out reinforces it in my mind and allows me to be less concerned with covering all the basis and more concerned with my employee.

3. Ask open-ended questions. Asking a juror if they are for the death penalty yields a yes or no answer, but asking her how she feels about the death penalty gives the attorney the opportunity to learn more. Just the same, asking your employee if she thought the phone call in question was good will yield a yes or no answer, but asking her how she thought the call went gives her the opportunity to expound. My favorite open-ended coaching questions include: “If you could do this call over again, would you?” “Tell me about that caller.” “Is there anything else about this call/customer that I haven’t asked, but need to know?”

4. Don’t allow the “Twinkie Defense.” In court, defendants may stand behind a theory of the case called the “Twinkie Defense.” This theory tries to throw the jury off the trail by blaming the client’s bad actions on something else – he ate too many Twinkies, for instance, and was on a sugar high when he killed/robbed/raped/molested and therefore is not responsible for his actions. You may have encountered the Twinkie Defense with your employees: “I was late because traffic was unusually heavy and then when I got here the elevator was broken, therefore my tardiness is not my fault.” Decide that employees will be held accountable for their actions and don’t allow them to hide behind the Twinkie Defense. In response to the Twinkie Defense, you respond with, “This is about individual responsibility – not trying to hide behind excuses.”

What is quality monitoring calibration and what are the benefits?

What is calibration  in the quality monitoring process and what are the benefits?

What exactly is quality assurance calibration and why would a contact center need to do it.

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Myra’s answer to What is calibration and what are the benefits?

The dictionary definition is…

  1. To check, adjust, or determine by comparison with a standard (the graduations of a quantitative measuring instrument): calibrate a thermometer.
  2. To make corrections in; adjust: calibrated the polling procedures to ensure objectivity.

To calibrate is to gain consensus, as a  team, on what a quality contact (phone call, email, chat, letter) sounds like, looks like, and “feels” like so that every evaluator is rating the calls the same way.

Evaluators meet on a regular basis to “check, adjust, or determine by comparison with each other the standards set forth by the call center.

Some of the benefits of calibration include:

  • It improves the consistency among everyone who monitors.
  • Helps protect evaluators against being accused of favoritism.
  • It actually serves as a quality assurance mechanism for improving the quality monitoring process.

A few months ago I hosted a webinar entitled Call Monitoring and the recording is now available. This program has dozens of tips for more effective call monitoring, agent coaching, and it discusses call monitoring technology. I encourage you to take a look at this program, as it may give you great insight for your current challenges.  View my call monitoring training outline.

When calibrating for quality call monitoring, do you suggest calibrating scores only or also the coaching?

Q. My team meets weekly for a 60-minute calibration and we focus solely on the scores on the monitoring form. But it has occurred to us that we may not be consistent on the comments we individually share with our agents. Do you know if most call centers calibrate scores only or do they also calibrate the comments they share when coaching each attribute on the monitoring form? 

Myra’s answer to When calibrating for quality call monitoring, do you suggest calibrating scores only or also the coaching?

Great question! For optimum consistency I recommend calibrating BOTH the scores and the verbal comments about each dimension on your quality monitoring form. Warning…this gets complicated and very time consuming. But when you get consistent as a team on how you coach each dimension,  you’ll find that both quality of calls and consistency of coaching improves dramatically.

A few months ago I hosted a webinar entitled Call Monitoring and the recording is now available. This program has dozens of tips for more effective call monitoring, agent coaching, and it discusses call monitoring technology. I encourage you to take a look at this program, as it may give you great insight for your current challenges. View my call monitoring training outline.