Alter Their Attitudes: Coaching Live Chat Agents in Five Easy Steps

Kimberly Barnes

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The happiness–or unhappiness–of your live chat agents will absolutely influence the happiness–or unhappiness–of your customers. If your CSRs answer each call begrudgingly, racing through the impersonal interactions in order to meet some daily quota or get back updating their Facebook statuses, your customers will suffer.

While you can’t monitor every call or perform a mood check each time an employee clocks in, you can improve the likelihood that these workers retain a contagiously sunny attitude through effective, ongoing coaching. Whether planning staff development protocols from scratch or revamping some less than stellar existing ones, utilize some of these coaching techniques for best results.

Set the stage for employee satisfaction

Your job as a coach actually begins in advance of your workers ever stepping foot into your workplace. Long before your scheduled orientation (and perhaps even before you start your interviews) dedicate attention to crafting a space that will make your workers happy.

Your goal is to create workspaces that are rich in both color and comfort. Workers sequestered in comfy and bright spaces naturally remain happier longer than those exiled to shades-of-gray cubicles and seated on long-used, should-be-retired hand me down office chairs.

No element is too small to consider when working to produce happy employees. Even things as seemingly inconsequential as what your employees eat can make impact mood. So consider trading your provided Friday pizza lunches for something a bit healthier. Your employees’ waistlines will thank you…and your customers will reap the benefit through interactions with your healthier, happier workers.

Teach workers how to satisfy customers

Before you assume your employees’ overwhelming malaise comes from the absence of a desire to make customers happy, pause and consider: Do they know how to satisfy customers?

While many of the techniques that prove most pleasing to customers–like taking an interest in their lives–may come second nature to some, assuming that your employees come pre-loaded with these skills is a major misstep.

By educating your employees effectively in customer satisfaction techniques, you provide them with a loaded toolkit they can use to do their jobs well. Employees who feel more competent will naturally be happier and more confident in dealing with difficult situations.

Reiterate how important live chat agents are to business success

No one wants to feel like they’re just replicable cogs in a giant machine. If this is the case for your employees, the service the provide will likely mirror this self-perception. It’s, therefore, vital to provide these workers with evidence of their importance, particularly as you work to onboard new employees into company culture.

Attribute business successes to these “on-the-front-lines” workers to show them just how crucial they are. Public statistics, share particularly glowing calls and publicly praise employees who really do an exemplary job.

It is also advantageous to encourage your live chatter to put some separation between each call. Remind them that each communication is its own distinct entity. They will necessarily have occasion to chat with customers who are less-than-chipper. If they don’t take a moment to breathe and refocus after these contentious communications, their upset will bleed into other calls.

Empower workers to help themselves

When employees feel chained to their desks, their performances will inevitably suffer. Employees (who feel less like voluntary participants and more like prisoners of war) may do what is required of them. However, they will do so in a perfunctory and unimpressive manner. While it’s understandably necessary to keep workers at their workstations, diligently attending to their job duties, it’s also necessary to acknowledge that your workers are real people with real needs.

When coaching your employees, give them permission to utilize their best judgment and take refreshers when needed. Tell your employees that, when they feel themselves starting to become frustrated, they can take a breather, disconnecting from their computers and taking short walks to the water fountain or trips outside for a breath of fresh air. By giving your employees this right, you not only allow them to attend to their needs, you help them stay fresh and focused — allowing them to take each call as if it’s the first of the day.

Build success celebration into your culture

Employee moods are continually in flux. Anything from a profanity-inducing morning commute to a complexity in an employee’s personal life can transform a typically bubbly worker into a black hole of negativity. Because employees’ moods aren’t static, the task of coaching to ensure happiness never really ends. To make this continued coaching natural, add opportunities for celebration into your regular practice.

Not only will celebrating employees’ major and minor efforts ensure your employees are happier – it will also likely have a positive impact on employee retention rates. A 2013 Accenture study confirmed this notion, finding that 43 percent of employees who resigned said they did so due to a lack of recognition.

Stifling the rising rates of employee dissatisfaction is inarguably difficult. When you’ve endeavored to keep your employees bright and cheery, what methods and tools have you found most useful?

Kimberly Barnes

Kimberly is a content marketing specialist, born in the South back when Apple was called “Apple Macintosh” and kids played Oregon Trail on its green screen. Still an Apple fan, Kimberly spends most days behind her laptop developing kick-ass content for businesses or pretending her kitchen is streaming a live episode of Taste. You can find her drinking a non-coffee beverage on a couch in Starbucks.

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