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Elevating Agent Performance for After-Sales Tech Support

When providing tech support services after selling products, every action taken by the agent in the contact center has a consequence or a result. The minute-by-minute choices an agent makes during each customer interaction matter. Good choices can mean a happy customer. Bad choices could mean customer defection and, even worse, public embarrassment for the brand.
There are two programs your outsourced tech support vendor must supply to ensure that agents are motivated and knowledgeable about making the right choices during each transaction; Training and Quality. Of course, selecting the best people for the job is implied, but it’s what the vendor does with them after hiring that will make the difference.
Training is focused on building skillsets and knowledge. Quality is focused on observation, feedback and coaching for improvement. What elevates the workforce in the contact center is the intersection of training and quality programs with operational objectives. If collaboration between the groups doesn’t exist, agent skill sets can slide and improvements will be difficult to sustain. But, when training, quality and operations work together harmoniously, there will be a profound difference in agent performance made apparent by increased customer satisfaction and retention.
To ensure that training and quality programs work together to impact agent performance, mutual dependencies must be established.

Let’s take an example:

A training program provides soft-skills training designed to help agents ask questions to learn what they need to know to solve a range of common issues that motivate customer calls and to express the appropriate amount of empathy in relation to those issues.
Operations sets a goal for average handle time and the number of calls an agent should complete each shift.
The quality team monitors for the questions and empathy, but agents get feedback from operations that they need to shorten the average handle time to meet metrics. The agents are now pulled in opposing directions which frustrates them.
To solve the problem and meet the operational objectives, the training can be modified to help agents ask the right questions first to reduce the time needed to help resolve the customer’s issue. This will help to merge the often-conflicting objectives of quality and efficiency without sacrificing one for the other.

Training and quality must come together based on achieving operational objectives. The challenge is in making everything work together with the end result of a great customer experience. Because the goals can be diverse across the training, quality and operational teams, upfront collaboration must happen with all parties involved before training and quality programs are developed.

Planning should include:

  • Defining strategic objectives for the contact center and how they relate to overall company or product category objectives
  • Based on the objectives, determine the skills needed for the agents to achieve goals and assess the agents’ level of proficiency to identify the gaps
  • Collaborate with training to determine what types of knowledge transfer will fill the gaps
  • Decide how quality teams will monitor to gauge adherence to the learning, performance improvements, as well as what type of coaching and feedback will be provided
  • Finally, determine which metrics will be used to understand the effectiveness of incremental performance improvement as skill levels increase

Of course, the thing to remember about mutual dependencies is that the programs will all sink or swim together. In other words, if the training isn’t effective, neither will be the quality program and it’s likely the operational objectives will not be achieved.
This is why it’s imperative to select a tech support vendor capable of understanding operational objectives and able to train agents in a way that closes performance gaps but is designed for easy adoption with clear definition around expectations. With training, quality and performance working together toward the same goals, elevating agent performance for after sales tech support is not only expedited, but sustainable.