Employee performance depends on the contact center performance management, and providing constructive feedback is one of the essential tools on the path to increasing it. Main performance goals can be reached only if the agents will get information about where they need to improve their skills or where they’re doing well.
Which call center performance metrics are better to use? When to provide call center agent feedback? Where is the balance between positive feedback and negative feedback? What is the right method for contact center quality feedback evaluation? What are the tips for building an efficient feedback culture? How to use an effective feedback loop? Finally, how to boost positive outcomes by using constructive feedback? What is the right tone of voice?
To get comprehensive answers, keep reading.
In this article you will find:
Why is call center agent feedback vital?
Why is constructive feedback so significant for operators?
Workers have to be guided to the right decisions and vectors of self-development. This responsibility is on the call center managers, who must point employees to their mistakes, imperfections, or, vice versa, successful interactions.
Employee feedback has a few goals except for pointing to deficiencies. Positive feedback has to encourage customer service agents, build strong relationships between team leaders and their subordinates, motivate new hires, and push their productivity. Negative feedback should not make workers upset or unhappy, it has to contain tips and bits of advice to fix the drawbacks in their work. In complex, these two types of feedback as an effective feedback loop create a constructive report on the operator’s performance.
Timely feedback providing also has additional functions, such as constructing subordinative behavior, teaching employees to notice mistakes on their own, and creating a system of rewards and punishments.
Some tips to give feedback correctly
Evaluating a person is a very touchy process, so you need to know all tricks and how to avoid misunderstandings and, what’s even worse, affronts. Different people take criticism in various ways, but some methods can help to avoid any arguments.
Remember that providing call center feedback has its objective to improve employees’ results and assist to reach performance goals, not to make them shy or sad about what they have done.
These tactics will greatly support both correct call center quality feedback providing and call center agent performance improvement. The overall behavior and atmosphere will also become more positive after implementing these strategies.
Any comment has to come at the right time
Call center quality feedback must be provided immediately after the commented actions have taken place. The worst situation is when a manager comes with feedback, but the agent has already made several similar decisions as the one that is reviewed by a supervisor. How would such a leader look in the operator’s eyes? Not as a great professional who is keen on time management.
If you want to review some actions and evaluate them, do it before they will lose their actuality. Otherwise, the feedback will be already useless and the employee will feel baffled cause of the manager’s behavior. This is a case that negatively affects both the manager’s image and employee motivation and self-confidence. Not the best configuration of the working process, is it?
Especially negative feedback has to be given in time to avoid repeating a false customer interaction that can harm the overall performance even more.
Include as many details as possible
Both positive and negative feedback should be greatly specified. It is not enough to say “good job”, because it isn’t even clear what it is about. An employee who is being evaluated must comprehend what are you talking about - which actions are measured, when have they happened, what of them have been right or not, what are the ways to improve them, and how to avoid mistakes in the future.
Never communicate with people without saying their names. Despite that, they will feel like unliving creatures with no importance to you - and no call center employee will endeavor for such an unrespectful manager.
A bad example of contact center quality feedback example is:
“Tom, you are doing your work badly. Try more, or we will have a serious conversation tomorrow!”
No details, no explanations, just critics and threats - at least the manager knows the agent’s name. How will such a call center employee feel? Can this sentence motivate anyone? Surely not, and there is no guarantee that Tom will even come tomorrow to get a new portion of the abstract criticism.
A good contact center quality feedback example must be like this one:
“Tom, I was watching for your performance during the whole yesterday work day. I like how you are putting effort to help as many clients as possible, and I thank you for your work. I see that you want to perform even better, but to achieve higher rates you need to train and an experienced coach is required for this. Yesterday you couldn’t deal with some clients’ issues, but it’s okay for any one of us to don’t know some things. I want to propose to you a personal training session to improve your skills and assist you to perform better. Let’s choose a suitable time for it. I think that such motivated people as you deserve to have more opportunities for self-development”.
Such a report will not only extinguish negative emotions but empower the agent to train and develop his soft skills to prove the manager’s faith. There are numerous call center agent coaching techniques, also for a remote call center, which are widely described in another blog.
When it comes to compliments, don’t talk about negative things
This rule is quite easy - avoid compiling negative and positive comments when you’re going to praise an agent. If doing so, a worker will think that the positive part is just an instrument to sweeten the negative feedback.
If there is an amazing piece of performance done by an employee, just say a compliment - even if there was also an action that had a negative effect. Try to provide a conversation about what could be done better next time. Let the agent feel honor and satisfaction with his work.
This practice has no connection to a “sandwich” method that advises integrating two types of feedback. We’ll describe it below.
Consider goals as a process, not a result only
A trap for any team leader is to think of any task or objective as a result. Some managers are so focused on results that they forget that any goal is achieved after a long way to it. Agents are living individuals with various characters, thoughts, emotions, and so on. Remember it when you are going to criticize them once more. Some people are perfectionists, so they spend more time closing a task ideally and they can put great effort into it. Blaming them for long-lasting work is a mistake if you are not taking into account all time and exertion they spend on the way to an objective. Try to understand how many subtasks have been done during producing a final result and be grateful for it. Let the employees feel that you adore their efforts and that their work has worth it. Use quality assurance scorecards to evaluate every action.
Ask yourself about operators’ contribution to the overall success
Three easy questions which can help you to evaluate your employees’ performance
- How has an agent eased your work?
- What impact has an agent given on overall performance?
- Where an agent has gone out of his direct responsibilities to do more than he has had to do?
If you can answer every one of these questions positively, then there is enough place for helpful feedback. Show your adorability and grate for agents’ contribution to the collective work and think of further improvements of the overall productivity.
Use call recordings as a sample
Call center software allows you to record or hear live calls and create quality assurance scorecards. As you surely know, many clients can call in a bad mood and try to destroy an agent as the only representative of a company who is available to talk with. Such calls can show that the operator is either sufficiently qualified and trained or isn’t ready for such bullying.
Some agents have strong conflict-solving and adapting skills to calm a client and bring him to a positive mood, while others can be disgusted or mentally destroyed by an angry customer. Use call center software to record such significant calls and train other agents on good examples of such conflict-solving techniques to provide a better customer experience.
Calls that were unsuccessful from the point of view of the agent’s performance can be used in tet-a-tet sessions to improve the agent’s skills of stress resistance and conflict management.
Let them give feedback too
Feedback provided is a double-edged sword. While you evaluate agents to lead them in the right direction, improve their skills, point out their mistakes and imperfections, or motivate them, they are also able to give feedback to you.
Agents are a fundamental part of the contact center, and there is no customer support or sales department without them. Call center quality feedback should also be taken from those who are 70% of all business’s staff - from agents.
Ask them about equipment quality, scheduling, and supervisors’ work. Maybe something disgusts them or makes them upset? Maybe some of them would like to change their working time? Or do they have some responsibilities which don’t belong to their job goals?
Don’t be afraid to ask them - and you will get satisfied operators who think of you as a wise manager.
The brilliant feedback tactics
Some methods of furnishing feedback can greatly decrease the possibility of misunderstanding, highly motivate agents, make them comprehend their mistakes and powerful sides, increase your image in their eyes and assist to build a positive environment and atmosphere.
Such tactics are easy-in-use, don’t need much time or investment to be implemented, are understandable for both agents and managers, and help to build stronger relations between them.
The sandwich model
One of the tricks which we have mentioned earlier is a feedback sandwich. We have recommended avoiding adding negative feedback when you are going to praise an agent. Anyhow, when it comes to negative reports, a portion of positive news is always a good addition.
For operators, it is vital to hear not only the negative evaluation of their work, so when you have to discuss some unpleasant aspects of their performance, find the facts of the great performance of an employee who is chosen to be criticized. This will make him feel not like an unprofessional worker, but like a person who just needs improvement of some skills. This feeling is crucial because it boosts motivation instead of frustration. On the other hand, this method helps to ensure an agent that the manager provides constructive evaluation, not just critics.
The Lorada score
This method exists to choose an effective balance between positive and negative feedback. As the research states, for a highly effective team, this score should be 5 to 1 - this means that for 1 negative feedback you should provide 5 positive ones. For average contact centers, both office-based and remote call centers, where performance can be measured as medium-scored, this ratio is 2 to 1 - where 2 means positive feedback. These rates regard the entire team, not only the operators.
The overall direction of the study offers to provide more positive evaluations than negative ones. This is the law of motivation and encouragement - the more positive reports the agents get, the more engaged and productive they are.
What, why, how
This tactic is essential for both managers and employees to discover the reasons for mistakes made by the agents, find ways to resolve them and guarantee that they will never be done again.
The model is simple: in every report, you should include three parts: What - the subject of the report (concrete interaction, activity, or task); Why - the reason for a mistake and circumstances which have led to this; How - the ways of solving the issue and avoiding its reiteration in the future.
This model is a great choice for managers who want to train their employees without losses in their current work processes. Also, it is great because it is easily integrated with “sandwich‘ and “what, how, why” tactics.
How to integrate it? It can be done in one day. Just segment agents’ tasks and activities by three criteria: what is doing wrong, what is doing well, and what would be good to do but hasn’t been still started.
“This works like that:
Stop section is about tasks that are processed with mistakes, misunderstandings, or just with low efficiency. They should be stopped until an agent won’t be trained or coached enough to know how to finish them with good outcomes.
The continue part of tasks is about those which are done well and should be continued to be done in the same way.
Start piece of goals or tasks is about those which are still not started but have to be so.”
Use ERIC tactic
Another great model to manage tasks and provide feedback is ERIC. This tactic is created to assist in managing activities and goals and to optimize the organization’s work processes to get maximal impact by putting in minimal effort. Its main goal is to segment activities into four groups where each of them has given the name for a model by the first letter of a word.
Eliminate - activities that bring no or very little impact, but take time and attention of staff. These should be stopped.
Reduce - significant activities, that take too much attention or effort. They should be optimized to create less spending on resources.
Increase - interactions that are useful and bring impact, but can do more if they will get more attention from managers, and more resources will be used to improve them.
Create - activities that are not implemented, but should be so because of their potential positive impact.
This model also works for feedback, because you can advise employees to avoid some actions or try others instead.
SBI is decrypted as Situation-Behavior-Impact. This model is very simple: you choose the situation - a conversation with a customer, for a sample, detect the behavior of the agent and find out the link between behavior and situation which creates an impact of the agent’s action on a customer request. This tactic helps to understand which operator’s actions were positive or negative, which have affected the customer’s decision, and how customer experience depends on the operator’s actions or sayings.
FiveWords review method
This tactic is great if you want to be honest and avoid any formal references. It is described in five words (that’s why it is called so) - Simple, Direct, Honest, Personalized, and Blunt. Simple means that you do not need to use long preambular or blurred wording. Direct represents that you talk to an agent tet-a-tet without any formalities. Honest conveys you to say all you think. A personalized approach signifies you talk about personal characteristics and skills also. Blunt means that you have to call a spade a spade. This method is not as tactful as you could guess, but it helps to build honest relations and informal communication.
How to receive feedback correctly
This paragraph is more for agents than for managers, but as we have said before, be ready to get feedback even if you are a boss. This also concerns customer feedback. The main rules for receiving feedback include:
- Listen attentively and do not interrupt even if you don’t agree
- Think twice before you answer or comment, stay calm
- Be ready for criticism and don’t be shy to accept your mistakes
- Carefully listen and note the recommendations to improve the performance
- Get the objective of feedback or ask if you think you don’t fully understand it
- Create a plan to solve the problem
- Come back with a report about what you have done to improve your performance