As a call center manager, you have to be comfortable giving feedback to your agents. Good feedback helps agents improve their performance and do a better job focusing on business outcomes, making your company more successful. Keep these tips in mind when you need to deliver constructive feedback to one of your call center agents.
Start with Praise
Call center agents aren’t likely to be motivated by a constant flow of negative feedback. If you must provide constructive criticism, start the coaching session by praising the employee. Giving praise first puts employees in a positive frame of mind so they are more open-minded about what you have to say.
Base Feedback on Your Observations
Your agents are more likely to take criticism seriously if it is based on your own personal observations. When you observe calls, write down notes about each agent’s attitude and adherence to your company’s call scripts. It is easier to give constructive criticism if you can point to specific issues instead of giving generalized feedback.
Maintain Eye Contact
Don’t give feedback while you are reading a script or staring at your computer screen. Wait until you have time to look employees in the eye. Maintaining eye contact shows that you respect your employees and want them to succeed.
Put Aside Personal Problems
Before you deliver feedback, set aside any personal problems you might have with that particular employee. If you go into a meeting with these personal problems in mind, there’s a good chance your feedback won’t be very constructive. If the issue is too big to overcome on your own, ask another call center supervisor to deliver the feedback instead.
Watch Your Tone
When you meet with an employee to discuss performance issues, pay attention to the tone of your voice. If you sound gruff or stern, the employee might think you are being too critical without offering any constructive feedback.
Address Problems in Confidence
No one likes to receive negative feedback in front of their colleagues. If you need to deliver constructive criticism, meet with the agent in a private office or conference room. Discussing performance issues in confidences eliminates the risk of embarrassing agents, making it more likely they will be willing to work on their performance.
Use Objective Data
Back up your constructive criticism with objective data collected by automated tools. Using objective data eliminates the risk of appearing biased against a particular agent. If an agent has a call handling time that is longer than it should be, for example, you can easily show the agent his call times on an automated report.
Ask for 360-Degree Feedback
Before delivering constructive criticism, ask for feedback from customers and other employees. Gathering feedback from multiple sources sometimes makes call center managers aware of problems they didn’t know existed. Requesting feedback from other sources also makes you more aware of how each agent is perceived by customers and colleagues.
Give Specific Examples
If you are providing feedback about call handling issues, use specific examples to show employees what they need to improve. Review past calls together so each agent knows what is acceptable and what is not. If an agent strayed from your company’s call script, for example, explain why this is unacceptable and provide tips for avoiding the problem in the future.
Empower Agents to Handle Problems
Constructive criticism is only valuable if an employee uses it to improve her performance. If agents do not have the power to effect change, things will stay the same no matter how many times you discuss performance issues. If company policies need to be changed to give employees more control, talk to executives about making the necessary changes.
Follow Up on Goals
If you never follow up with employees after delivering constructive criticism, you’ll never know if they are benefiting from the feedback. When you deliver criticism, schedule a meeting for several weeks later to discuss what steps the employee has taken to resolve performance problems.
Explain How to Improve
Some call center agents don’t know what to do with negative feedback, even if it is delivered in a constructive manner. Make it easier for your employees to improve their performance by giving specific suggestions for improvement. If you deliver feedback about an agent’s use of call scripts, let him know he can improve by sticking to the script instead of improvising during calls.
Constructive criticism is a good tool for letting employees know about their shortcomings and providing guidance for performance improvement. If you plan to use constructive feedback, be ready to share specific examples of performance issues. Delivered correctly, constructive criticism can help you improve call center performance without losing valuable agents.
Featured image – © leungchopan / Dollar Photo Club