CSR Coaching and Recognition for Improving CX

Date Published: 4/16/19, 3:58 PM

CSR Coaching Header

Of the opportunities that contact centers have to improve their customer experience, the quickest and greatest individual wins typically come from improving CSR sources of error for repeat contacts. Whether they be will or skill issues, frontline CSR source of error accounts for roughly 40% of an average contact center’s customer experience (CX) fail-points. This translates to CX performance gaps between the top and bottom performing CSRs in an average contact center and accounts for roughly twice as many customer defections and 15% more repeat contacts. In an effort to try and drive improvement, the responsibility typically falls to a CSR’s manager or supervisor.

CSR’s are vital to organizations improving CX performance, hence, one would imagine that supervisors would be largely focused on coaching CSRs. Interestingly though, while many contact centers claim that their supervisors spend approximately 50% or more of their time coaching CSRs to improve CX, our research shows that it is much less. In most cases, four to five calls per CSR, per month are evaluated and CSRs are coached once a month for less than one hour. This means that, typically, a CSR receives only 1.5 days total coaching time on an annual basis, and in most cases, the coaching information is based on a traditional QA practice where the customers experience is judged from an internal perspective, rather than an external perspective where the customer is the judge of their experience. (For more details on best practices for incorporating VoC into your QA program to improve CX performance, please see our recent white paper on Customer Quality Assurance (CQA: Why it Works for Improving CX), or access our on-demand webinar to learn more.

CSR Coaching

Coaching is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced and can be challenging for supervisors who are promoted from the CSR level and not properly trained to coach CSRs. Many CSRs are uneasy about receiving call coaching from their supervisor because their coaching style tends to focus on the negative aspects of the call. Although there are always areas that a CSR can improve on for call handling, these aspects should not be the sole focus in a coaching session. The most common feedback SQM receives from CSRs about coaching is that their supervisor is not skilled at coaching them on how to improve their call resolution and Csat performance. 

It stands to reason that if the traditional QA process is not effective for helping improve call resolution and Csat, then how can a supervisor be successful at coaching to improve CSR performance when they are using the traditional QA process? SQM agrees with the vast majority of contact center professionals’ opinion that coaching CSRs is critical and using the VoC feedback for coaching CSRs is a best practice to improve CX performance. As an example of how to coach to VoC feedback, the below figure shows an ongoing four-step VoC CSR coaching model for helping CSRs improve call resolution and CX performance.

CSR Coaching Model

We welcome you to read case studies from SQM clients whose CSR Coaching Programs have demonstrated CX best practices which improved or helped maintain high CX performance. Also, to help you assess the effectiveness of your CSR coaching program, here are a few questions and points to consider:

Do your supervisors invest at least 50% of their time coaching CSRs? – Knowing that World Class contact centers are up at around 80% of supervisor time dedicated to coaching.

  • How much coaching and training do your supervisors receive?
  • Do your supervisors have the right skills to coach your CSRs?
  • Have you established world class supervisor voice of the customer (VoC) performance metrics and targets?
  • Are there VoC goals that both CSRs and supervisors are held accountable to?
  • Do you track CSR performance improvement based on VoC to quantify the effectiveness of coaching?
  • Are your supervisors only coaching to an interaction, or are they coaching to behavioral trends?
  • Do your supervisors know what motivates the CSRs on their team?

CSR Recognition Best Practices

SQM TrophiesMotivating CSRs to use the desired customer service behaviors to improve CX and retaining the best CSRs are great challenges. This is where your CSR recognition program can be instrumental in supporting your CX improvement strategy. An effective recognition program will greatly help managers and supervisors in motivating CSRs to excel at providing call resolution at the world class level and to retain the top CX performing CSRs. It is important to note that 46% of customers whose call was not resolved felt the CSR could have done more to resolve their call. In many of those cases, the CSRs were not motivated to use the desired customer service behaviors to resolve customer calls. In other words, from a customer point of view, it was a will issue rather than a skill issue.

A best practice is to recognize CSR behavior and reward VoC results in a frequent, descriptive, impactful, and personal manner, so that CSRs know what they are being recognized for and because it motivates them to continue to use the behaviors that helped them achieve the VoC results. SQM’s world class performing clients have common best practices as part of their recognition programs, in that they are:

  • Frequent – Recognize CSRs daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. The more timely, consistent, and frequent, the better.
  • Descriptive – Recognize CSRs for specific behaviors that they used to resolve a call or provide great customer experience. The more descriptive the feedback is, the more the CSR will feel it is sincere.
  • Impactful – Focus CSR recognition on behaviors that have a positive impact on improving CX. These are the behaviors you want the CSR to repeat.
  • Personal – Know that each CSR is motivated by recognition differently. Do they prefer private, or public recognition? Are they motivated by money, time off, recognition by leadership, or additional responsibilities? Most importantly, how can you (often with great creativity) tie-in these CSR motivators into your recognition program?

To be effective, your recognition program must drive results. It is not uncommon for contact centers to allocate significant resources to recognition programs that do not improve customer or employee experience. At their heart, successful recognition programs motivate employees’ willingness to improve, and world class organizations leverage that willingness through enabling highly effective coaching programs. By understanding how and what drives CSRs and leveraging that motivation through a well-designed coaching program of highly motivated individuals, CX improvement comes in two forms: you get longer-term wins from keeping top performers in their roles, while average to poor performers are motivated to continuously improve.

Coaching and recognition go hand-in-hand to drive better employee engagement and great CX by galvanizing the relationship between a CSR and their supervisor as one that provides guidance and motivates individuals to improve the ways they deliver on your customers’ experiences.

About the Author: Mike Desmarais

Mike DesmaraisMike Desmarais is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SQM Group. Mike is currently an MBA Candidate at Athabasca University. Mike has over 25 years of customer experience (CX) measurement, benchmarking, and consulting. As a consultant, Mike has experience working with leading North American organizations on improving CX. Mike has developed several key best practices that are fundamental to providing world class contact channel customer experiences. He uses his best practice knowledge to assess contact channel operations and to pinpoint the 3-5 pivotal changes that will drive real and significant CX improvement. Mike is a pioneer and visionary in contact channels’ CX measurement of first call resolution, one contact resolution, omni-channel, CX greatness, customer emotion, and retention metrics. Mike has written five thought-provoking contact channel CX research books (i.e., World Class Call Center, First Call Resolution, FCR Best Practices, One Contact Resolution and most recently One Contact Resolution 2nd Edition). Mike has conducted best practice case studies with organizations such as American Express, FedEx, and VSP Vision Care. In addition, Mike is a popular contact center industry thought-leader with over 20,000 LinkedIn followers and is one of the top 10 most influential contributors in the contact center industry based on a recent Fonolo poll. Mike is a sought-after speaker for contact center conferences and has a world class satisfaction rating for speaking at those events.