If you’re wondering how to improve agent performance in a hurry, whisper coaching is your answer.
From call center supervisors to sales agents in the financial, realty, or insurance industries, one thing that comes up regularly is the issue of how to improve agent performance. Onboarding and training generally covers at least some aspects of performance. But you don’t always have the luxury of extended training times.
Outside of that, nearly every agent has a sales rut at times. There are numerous training courses and ideas that can help agents regroup and improve their performance. Again, though, sometimes you need to move things along quickly. This is where whisper coaching can help.
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What is whisper coaching?
Many sales calls with an agent are “monitored or recorded.” You’ve certainly heard that phrase when you’ve been on the phone with nearly any business. Recording these calls gives agents and supervisors the opportunity to listen later and analyze the call. They can listen to what the agent did well, and point out areas for improvement.
Whisper coaching is similar, with the big difference being that the training opportunity happens in real time. Supervisors can listen in on a call and offer tips or advice to the agent right away. This immediate feedback allows agents to improve their performance as they go.
The nice thing about whisper coaching is that only the agent and supervisor are privy to the conversation. The prospect or customer on the other end of the line can’t hear the coaching, so from their perspective, everything seems natural.
That said, there are some best practices around whisper coaching that can help improve performance.
Learn how to improve agent performance with thoughtful whisper coaching.
1. Let your agent know. If you have plans for whisper coaching, let your agent know ahead of time, preferably right before they start making calls. It’s disorienting for another voice to suddenly appear on the line, and your agent might not know if that’s you or if someone on the other end of the line has picked up the call.
2. Wait for the pause. As you’re listening and thinking about how to improve agent performance on a call, it’s tempting to jump into a conversation right away if you notice something. Try your best not to do that. Instead, wait for a pause in the conversation. If you’re talking at the same time as the prospect, your agent can’t pay attention to both of you. And it can get distracting if you talk while your agent is talking to the customer. Be patient, and those natural conversation pauses will appear. Then you can coach your agent without throwing the conversation off.
3. Start from the start. Whisper coaching is more helpful and effective if you listen in from the beginning of a call. That way, you know what the prospect and your agent have already talked about, what kind of relationship they have, and where the conversation is headed. Jumping into a call in the middle leaves you at a disadvantage and could derail the conversation.
4. Don’t forget positive feedback. When you think about how to improve agent performance through coaching or training, there’s a tendency to focus on the areas where their skills fall short. Certainly, part of coaching is acknowledging those shortfalls and determining what you can do about them. But the other side of coaching is pointing out those areas where your agents are doing well. People respond to positive feedback, and it gives them incentive to work hard to improve in other areas.
5. Wait. While the primary advantage of whisper coaching is that real-time feedback, there are still some things that can wait until after the call. Take notes, and if there’s a non-urgent topic you can discuss later, there’s no harm in saving it for a few minutes. Sometimes it’s better to have a more in-depth conversation and training moment with your sales agent.
Whisper coaching, like any of your training and coaching, can lead to improved performance and greater customer satisfaction. The key is to be patient, and guide your agents.
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