Agent Experience

4 Ways to Help a Struggling Customer Service Agent

What do you do when a customer service rep is struggling to perform? In certain cases, it’s clear that the person isn’t a good fit and should be let go or transitioned to another position. However, sometimes a rep has all the right qualities and the desire to be of service, yet continues to miss the mark in customer service calls and fails to resolve customer complaints. When you sense potential that’s not being realized on your team, here are four steps you can take to help improve a sales rep’s performance.

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  1. Observe their performance. Schedule some windows of time during the week to observe the rep’s performance on calls. Listen to the way he or she interacts with customers, and watch how he or she accesses the company’s systems. One contact center manager I know had a rep who was incredibly personable and easily struck up a rapport with customers but took too long on each call. Upon observing her at work, it became clear she didn’t understand how to use the in-call systems. Additional training helped her overcome the gap, and now she’s routinely one of the company’s most consistent performers.
  2. Ask them what’s not working. Sometimes reps have blocks they’re fully aware of, but that can be hard to discern through observation. One case study I’m aware of involved a customer service agent who performed wonderfully with average requests, but immediately struggled with very angry customers. His manager had a conversation with the man and learned about some things in his background that made it difficult to be yelled at. Without a chat, the manager never would have known. The representative began working with e-mail customer service requests and is still with the company today.
  3. Use shadowing. In parallel with coaching and training, consider using shadowing or mentorship as part of your work with struggling customer service reps. In some cases, seeing the behaviors and practices you’re working to cultivate modeled by their peers is more effective than any other type of learning.
  4. Incorporate data. It’s one thing to tell a contact center agent that he or she is taking too long on calls; it’s another to show him or her that the average call length is 3 minutes, and he or she is taking 5. Find ways to quantify what’s not working. Not only does that help drive home the importance of what you’re talking about, but it gives the contact center agent something concrete to work toward, like reducing the time spent on calls.

Being creative about how you support, mentor, and work with struggling members of your team can be the difference between long-term success and failure. If a rep seems talented and dedicated to his or her job, consider going above and beyond to help him or her thrive.