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Real-Time Agent Coaching: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

Real-time agent coaching is a new way to empower your call center agents to be more effective, efficient and successful. Using real-time artificial intelligence and automation, real-time call center agent coaching allows call center leaders to deliver targeted, actionable support and training when agents need it the most—during live customer interactions. (You can find an expanded real-time agent coaching definition here.) As a result, real-time coaching cannot only reduce stress and anxiety; it can also improve both their experience and that of customers as well. Because we all know that a great customer experience begins with a great agent experience.

Real-time agent coaching is needed now more than ever.

Call center agent coaching is nothing new. However, today’s digital-first customer service environment is making agents more stressed—and likely to leave—than ever before. Unlike traditional call center agent coaching (which relies on post-call recordings to improve future interactions), real-time agent coaching is uniquely adapted to address today’s leading challenges, including:

How does real-time coaching improve agent retention?

The average customer-service representative between the age of 20 and 34 stays on the job for just over one year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s no wonder that call center turnover rates in many areas have reached untenable levels, with average turnover rates as high as 45% — which is at least twice the average turnover in other departments. Real-time coaching improves agent retention by giving agents the tools they need to succeed while addressing common pain points that drive agent dissatisfaction and turnover.

Watch Eric Scipio Del Campo explain the inner workings of contact centers in Season 2, Episode 6:

 

Current challenges with call center agent coaching

Up until recently, call center agent coaching has been largely human driven, with coaches reviewing post-call recordings or transcripts for areas for improvement. But human coaching has its limits. Large organizations, higher call volume, more complex issues, rapid change and remote work models—nearly everything about today’s call center environment—means that human coaches can’t possibly help every agent at the right point in time to make a real difference.

It’s no wonder current coaching methods no longer deliver the kind of measurable results companies expect. And it’s no wonder that agents are more frustrated than ever. With coaches only able to listen to or review an extremely small number of interactions, they’re far more likely to:

Call Center Life: "I need a call center genie …"

Real-time agent coaching is the solution.

We know that coaching that is timely, targeted, actionable and objective helps agents improve their performance, deliver a better customer experience and reduce their stress for a better agent experience. We also know that human supervisors and coaches can’t possibly monitor every interaction in real time, instantly ascertain the customer’s emotions and intent to help the agent understand them and respond appropriately or offer every agent specific guidance in real time to help them resolve customer issues quickly.

However, machines can do all this and more—and they can do so in real time. A conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platform can offer real-time agent coaching at scale—with incredible accuracy and effectiveness—to help call center agents with objective, actionable guidance during every interaction.

Believe a great employee experience creates a great customer experience

Source: “Here’s What Happens When You Focus on Employees to Better Serve Your Customers,” Brian Solis, Harvard Business Review, August 2021

How does real-time agent coaching work?

Real-time agent coaching empowers agents with specific insights, automation and guidance during the interaction with the customer. It helps every agent become your best agent by guiding them on how to resolve the issue, providing them with next best actions and automating tasks based on real-time recognition of customer needs and emotions. Using conversational AI to recognize and automate tasks both during and after the call prevents mistakes from happening in the first place and frees up agents to focus on the conversation.

Unlike human coaching, real-time agent coaching using conversational AI can effectively coach agents in every interaction, providing specific guidance based on understanding of the conversation, predictive analysis and recognition of customer (and agent) emotion, customer sentiment and intent.

Here’s an example: A customer calls about an unusually high account balance. The conversational AI identifies that the customer is frustrated and the real-time agent coaching solution suggests the next best action of waiving the annual administrative fee. The agent can click the offer to instantly resolve the issue for the customer.

The business case for AI-powered real-time agent coaching

Call centers that invest in empowering their agents with real-time coaching are seeing measurable and sustainable improvements in the metrics that matter – from agent retention to customer satisfaction, ramp-up and training time to improved conversions.

Improved agent experience and retention: Empowering agents with conversational AI-powered insights, guidance, analytics and automation helps agents perform at their best, reducing stress and anxiety and improving retention.

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Improved customer experience and satisfaction: When agents have a better experience, so do customers. Agents get the guidance they need at the moment they need it while automation frees them to focus on the customer conversation instead of performing menial tasks across multiple systems. The result is increased customer engagement and satisfaction and better Net Promoter Scores.

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Reduced training and ramp-up time: Instead of requiring agents to read and memorize novel-size manuals, real-time agent coaching uses automated workflows and integration with the knowledgebase to provide agents with the correct guidance to handle complex issues in real time. Agents become proficient much more quickly and continue to improve rapidly, flattening out the initial learning curve and helping agents become successful more quickly.

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Fewer errors and improved first call resolution (FCR): By coaching agents in real time with AI-powered guidance and automation, call center agents can learn to resolve issues faster and with fewer mistakes. FCR goes up and repeat calls drop as agent effectiveness improves.

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Fewer repeat calls and happier customers: With a solution that automatically identifies, manages and automates promises (also known as commitments) made during the interaction, agents don’t have to spend valuable time on manual tasks but can focus on helping the next customer. Automation eliminates agent mistakes that disappoint customers expecting the appropriate follow-up and reduces repeat calls due to missed commitments.

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Reduced average handle time: Real-time agent coaching helps agents resolve issues faster by automatically determining intent, providing guidance on the next best action to take to resolve the issue, and automatically providing relevant information as it’s needed. Automation of manual tasks also optimizes agent efficiency for a speedier resolution.

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Boost sales and customer lifetime value: Highly accurate predictive analysis guides agents with the best next action and offer to increase conversion rates and drive revenue and higher customer lifetime value.

Real-time coaching in the real world

See how Priceline simplifies the agent experience
Find out how this leading online travel company handles 4.5 million interactions every year with consistency and empathy.

What technology is needed for real-time coaching?

Real-time agent coaching is powered by call center-specific conversational AI that recognizes and comprehends human language and uses this understanding to optimize, automate and analyze conversations in and across multiple channels. With this ability to understand human-to-human conversations, advanced conversational AI platforms can recognize and analyze human emotion and sentiment and predict intent with a high degree of accuracy.

Legacy call center solutions were never created to understand and optimize human-to-human conversations. Only a conversational AI and automation platform specifically designed for call centers can do that.

That’s why you need a platform built around advanced conversational AI to coach agents in real time. That platform needs to include:

Real-time agent coaching is the future.

Agent experience and retention are critical issues for call centers. With more remote work options available today, there’s less incentive for agents to remain loyal to companies with a poor employee experience. Real-time agent coaching can help you keep agents from leaving by improving their experience and reducing their stress and anxiety. Every agent can become your best agent when the help and guidance they receive is immediate, accurate, precise and actionable.

Only a conversational AI-powered solution can do that at scale. In fact, by automating the difficult job of coaching every agent, you can free up your supervisors and managers to focus on your people and other ways to improve the agent experience. And, as evidence shows, when call center agents are empowered, engaged and motivated, customer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty improves as well.

Unlock your agents’ full potential with real-time coaching

Learn how real-time AI can set every agent up for success with Scott Baker in Season, 2 Episode 34:

 

Real-Time Agent Coaching FAQs

Contact center coaching is the process of educating, training and motivating contact center agents with the goal of improving agent performance. Contact center coaching leverages various tools—including call recordings and transcripts—to identify areas for improvement and develop agent skills and strengths.

Real-time agent coaching allows contact centers to support agents and develop their skills during live interactions. By offering real-time feedback, contact centers can minimize friction points caused by agent inexperience or confusion and guide agents toward more successful call resolutions.

Real-time agent coaching uses conversational artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to recognize customer intent, sentiment and even emotion and generate appropriate next-best actions. It also allows provides coaching staff with the context needed to intervene during the call, if necessary.

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