How to Build Advisor Confidence

Small cat with big male lion shadow - confidence concept

Quick Overview

Building advisor confidence is a challenge many contact centre leaders face, there are several ways to tackle it including:

  1. Welcome “Stupid Questions”
  2. Spotlight Personal Strengths
  3. Show Agents How Their Performance Is Improving

This article outlines ten practical methods contact centre leaders can use to build advisor confidence.

Techniques to Build Advisor Confidence

Team leaders and managers need to develop their staff and build their confidence, so we asked our panel of experts for practical techniques that can be used to build advisor confidence.

Here are 10 ways to build advisor confidence:

1. Welcome “Stupid Questions”

Agents frequently fail to understand performance improvement advice or how to use new systems but will pretend they have. Why? For fear of appearing foolish.

Consequently, they don’t change and lose self-esteem. Moreover, agents ask themselves: “Why don’t I get it.” Yet this is only a thought. Most people need to hear new ideas multiple times before they sink in.

Coaches and managers don’t always provide a clear explanation. In contact centres, this often happens in the heat of the moment. The coach may have done something for years and it has become second nature. Therefore, they cover the subject too quickly.

Let agents know it’s okay to ask “stupid questions” in development sessions. After all, we’ve all been in that position, too afraid to speak up. It’s normal!

It might sound fluffy, but consider the alternative: agents continue pretending, customers don’t get the responses they need and service suffers.

2. Spotlight Personal Strengths

Paul Stemp at Calabrio
Paul Stemp

Personal traits and strengths drive behaviours. These actions typically result in positive customer outcomes. When this happens, stand up and take notice.

Consider, for example, where an advisor demonstrates empathy while dealing with an angry customer. The advisor didn’t regurgitate stale empathy statements. Instead, it came naturally and the conversation resulted in customer retention.

With the help of call recording and quality management, it is possible to let an advisor know they did an excellent job and how their care for people is also beneficial to the business. Say something like: “Keep doing that, it works!”

Giving praise links the trait to a behaviour that drives the right results. As such, it reinforces the advisor’s belief in their ability.

Also, it allows management to show appreciation for an employee’s efforts and highlights how they bring value to the business.

As a result, the advisor will use those strengths more confidently.

3. Show Agents How Their Performance Is Improving

Contact centres often use leaderboards to gamify customer conversations. These are excellent motivators for those at the top. Yet for those languishing in the lower echelons, they deliver a repeated blow to their self-esteem.

Instead, create personalized agent dashboards that benchmark performance over time. This encourages self-improvement and builds confidence.

Nowadays, such dashboards are customizable, allowing managers to tailor and manage KPIs at an individual level. Supervisors can then drill into these to set goals and develop benchmarks. Data visualizations bring all this to life to build confidence and deliver results.

Moreover, if operations add real-time data and funnel in positive customer/supervisor feedback, agents receive continuous positive enforcement. As such, performance and personal belief grows.

On the flip side, when figures dwindle, supervisors can step in, taking care to draw attention to the positives and open up a discussion about the factors influencing the performance dip.

Contributed by: Paul Stemp at Calabrio

4. Treat Them Like Individuals

Drew Naylor at MaxContact.
Drew Naylor

Every advisor is different and as such should be treated as an individual.

Some advisors want to spend time listening and understanding the expectations put on them, giving them time to ask questions and understand what is needed.

Others will be practical and want to get hands-on experience with the change. Then there are some that will want both over a period of time to build confidence and deal with customer interactions more effectively.

Understanding each advisor and how they cope, manage and handle situations is key. Group your advisors together depending on how they learn.

Putting varying plans in place to meet their needs will ensure they are happy and the experience given to your customers is at the required level.

Contributed by: Drew Naylor at MaxContact

5. Don’t Let It Burn out of Control

Andy Gillies at 8x8
Andy Gillies

Confidence is like fire. Manage it well and it will keep you warm inside. If you allow it to manage you, it will burn you from the inside out.

Confidence building needs a personal touch.

First, you have to understand the individual. Know what makes them tick. Most people have no confidence for a reason. They may be scared, overwhelmed or have something in their own personal history.

Managers, leaders, colleagues need to know the why before they can work on boosting confidence to get the best out of people.

Show people what they excel in, remove the focus away from the fear – because it is fear that holds people back.

Concentrate on strengths for growth. And it doesn’t always take courses or therapy to start building people up.

Sometimes a simple, genuine compliment on a daily basis is a start to build up someone’s confidence.

Contributed by: Andy Gillies at 8×8

6. Build Them Up Then Let Them Go

Juliet Fehr at Odigo
Juliet Fehr

‘If you don’t know, ask’ should be a golden rule during onboarding. New agents first need the confidence to hold their hand up and ask any question needed to make sense of often complex sets of rules and systems.

However long-term, asking about each tiny issue or sliver of doubt does not build confidence, just poor performance and dependence.

Confidence and autonomy exist in a balance; showing confidence in an agent’s skills encourages autonomy and builds confidence further.

But there needs to be a safety net of supervision, as well as an open door to nip problems in the bud and answer important questions that arise from experience. These approaches can lead to better working practices.

7. Develop Group ‘Therapy’

A key factor in confidence is knowing you’re not the only one who has problems. When teams can get together to talk openly about their experiences, it becomes a learning experience for everyone.

Top tips, things to avoid, and validation that sometimes the outcome had nothing to do with you at all, are enormously beneficial.

This also helps create living knowledge bases within teams, as agents know who is the most experienced or adept in a certain area and where to go for advice.

Contributed by: Juliet Fehr at Odigo

8. Provide Real-Time Guidance

Dana Shalev at NICE
Dana Shalev

There are multiple factors that can make the agent’s role complex and intimidating, but often the solution is as simple as equipping them with the personal coaching, real-time interaction guidance and the flexibility they need.

AI-powered workforce engagement management solutions, including real-time agent assist which can automate mundane tasks, allows advisors to focus on high-priority tasks.

Real-time interaction guidance empowers advisors to be their best on every call with immediate guidance on next-best actions and soft-skill behaviours.

A process analytics capability can also pinpoint training opportunities and offer actionable automation insights to drive positive change in agent behaviours.

Providing scheduling flexibility can help boost advisors’ confidence by making them a partner in the scheduling process, thus affording them a better work–life balance.

A robust performance management solution can also engage advisors with proactive personalized coaching based on actionable data to inspire them to improve their performance in real time.

Contributed by: Dana Shalev at NICE

9. Consider the Power of Feedback

Frank Sherlock at CallMiner
Frank Sherlock

Whether it’s starting a new role or getting to grips with new technology, advisors need to feel confident to successfully deliver.

One way to help build confidence is to provide continual feedback and real-time coaching. Having access to ongoing, data-driven training can help advisors, such as frontline agents, understand what they’re doing well or areas that might need work.

Utilizing peer-to-peer feedback by sharing best practice with team members can provide useful tips to the less confident or experienced, and is also a great way to give positive recognition to those doing well.

Contributed by: Frank Sherlock at CallMiner

10. Enhance Supervisor Confidence

Geoff Donnelly at Five9
Geoff Donnelly

It can be very stressful for supervisors to simultaneously provide the highest quality of customer service and manage a call centre agent workforce. Therefore, empowering your supervisors with the right technology can help address these challenges.

Real-time technology and workforce optimization tools can help provide the confidence your supervisors need to manage their team successfully.

For example, tools that provide real-time statistics for queues, campaigns, and agents allow supervisors to manage resources efficiently and effectively. Real-time coaching can also greatly help supervisors stay connected with their team and reduce employee stress.

With workforce optimization, supervisors can virtually observe their entire team’s activity with the ability to monitor live calls and agents’ screens. This allows supervisors to reach out when help is needed and improve team performance from wherever they work.

Contributed by: Geoff Donnelly at Five9

And Finally, Six Top Tips

Thumbnail image of Caroline Leonard
Caroline Leonard

Advisor confidence can suffer in the face of difficult or new situations, or if they feel isolated or under-informed. Here are some tips to help them maintain self-confidence, regardless of the situation:

1. Training, Training, Training!

Regular, updated, practical training programmes lead to a complete understanding of the product/service range and will reap massive advisor confidence dividends.

2. Practise Scenario-Based Responses

Rehearse responses to typical and atypical customer queries.

3. Encourage Advisors to Use Your Service/Products Themselves

Familiarity with the products/services ensures an empathetic, customer-centric self-assurance and proficiency.

4. Openly Acknowledge and Accept Mistakes

When advisors are free to admit mistakes and know that errors will be understood and used for learning, they become more confident and less concerned with repercussions.

5. Provide Positive Feedback

Acknowledge a job well done. A ‘Thank You’ is a simple action with profound implications for advisor confidence and job satisfaction.

6. Communicate Effectively

Effective communication breeds confidence. It is vital, therefore, that we:

  • Use the right technology to keep everyone informed
  • Organize regular, practical meetings
  • Encourage open communication
  • Provide tools like live chat and co-browsing to enable advisors to bring customer issues to a satisfactory conclusion.

Contributed by: Caroline Leonard at Spearline

For more great insights and advice from our panel of experts, read these articles next:

Author: Robyn Coppell
Reviewed by: Rachael Trickey

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