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Performance Coaching: Transforming Quality Assurance
It is widely recognized that customer experiences (CX) and employee experiences (EX) are interrelated and can significantly impact business performance. In 2024, customer service leaders will continue to prioritize improving employee performance and development. One effective way to do this is through performance coaching that provides ongoing feedback and collaboration that focuses on maximizing an employee's potential by identifying areas that require the most support and improvement. Natural language analytics and AI-powered conversation solutions implemented in an “everyday” fashion can help contact centers monitor and improve performance.
Performance Coaching in the Contact Center
First off, performance coaching is not the same as performance management, which focuses on teaching, managing performance, directing others, and giving advice. Performance coaching involves a joint review of interactions between the agent and manager to identify the areas that are working well and those that need improvement. The focus is on understanding the underlying reasons for both success and failure, which could be related to specific skills, knowledge, or behavior. For instance, the agent may struggle with problem-solving, incomplete data capture, or interrupting the caller. Once the areas of improvement are identified, a specific plan is created to address them.
This plan may include completing e-learning modules, reading training materials, working with a peer mentor, reviewing additional call recordings to pinpoint areas for improvement, and revisiting the issue during the next coaching session. By conducting a proper analysis, identifying the underlying causes, and developing a plan for improvement, ensuring the agent has a comprehensive understanding of how they should improve is essential to enhancing their performance.
Despite their best intentions, managers face challenges when conducting performance coaching. For example, many companies still rely on spreadsheets and must gather data from different sources to track and analyze call center performance. Faced with time constraints, it is challenging to review enough calls to assess agent performance accurately and provide immediate feedback. CallMiner contends that most contact centers manually review and listen to 3 to 5 random calls per agent, per month — less than 1% of overall interactions. And although coaching sessions are scheduled in advance, these meetings are frequently the first to get canceled when other business needs arise. These obstacles can undermine employee experience, so contact center leaders are exploring various technologies to facilitate performance coaching.
As mentioned, natural language analytics and AI-powered conversation solutions can help contact centers monitor and improve performance. These solutions can analyze vast amounts of data and identify patterns and trends that are difficult to interpret manually. Using conversation topic search and case selection can accelerate sentiment root cause analysis and pinpoint areas for improvement. Today’s AI also ensures a consistent and standardized approach to evaluating performance. This eliminates the need for quality calibration sessions that are manually conducted to make sure all managers evaluate interactions the same way. By gathering and analyzing this data, managers can provide more targeted, data-driven feedback based on customer conversations.
However, it is essential to note that these AI solutions do not necessarily automate the coaching process, and their benefits are typically focused on reducing handle time, improving utilization, and increasing revenue. To ensure that the insights provided are accurate and relevant to the business, AI sets the stage for consistent, personalized human-led coaching. The “Everyday AI” approach can play a significant role in achieving this.
Using AI Every Day
The 2023 Gartner® Hype Cycle™ defines Everyday AI as a set of small yet valuable artificial intelligence services that aim to assist workers in enhancing their performance, producing high-quality work, and saving time. In the contact center industry, this Everyday AI approach can provide managers with access to performance data and recommendations in a single system. For example, that system might feature a dashboard that identifies those interactions with the highest ratings while also highlighting to coaches those agents who are underperforming. With an AI-powered solution, managers can identify, coach, and engage with more agents more frequently and in less time – and thus help boost overall performance.
AmplifAI, one of the vendors listed in the Gartner report, provides an AI-powered coaching solution that delivers daily actions to frontline contact center teams, steering them towards their organization’s “high performance persona” — a benchmark modeled after actual top-performing agents. These action plans are aligned with specific and measurable goals to provide data-driven feedback that minimizes bias and assumptions. Moreover, coaches can use microlearning modules to reinforce their coaching sessions and provide agents with additional guidance on specific topics. This ensures that coaching sessions are consistent, measurable, and targeted.
But even highly targeted coaching activity doesn’t guarantee business performance improvement. So AmplifAI created a way to solve one of the most overlooked areas in the contact center: how coaching impact is measured. AmplifAI tracks agent performance after every coaching session and scores the coaching supervisor based on the outcome. This produces a tangible way for senior leadership to measure the return on coaching, and just as importantly, to provide guidance to all of those that aren’t contributing to effective coaching.
One of the most valuable assets for any business is its employees. Prioritizing the development, coaching, engagement, and retention of contact center agents and their managers can enhance employee and customer experience. Performance coaching helps build an environment of cooperation and trust, encourages continuous development, and actively engages employees through regular coaching and learning sessions. With the help of AI, businesses can create a practical coaching framework that can significantly improve performance and employee engagement.
SCTC Perspective is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and governments worldwide.