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A battle-tested four-step strategy to coach agents and improve customer retention

A battle-tested four-step strategy to coach agents and improve customer retention

How ASSA ABLOY creatively structured their coaching culture to four steps, leading to an overall increase in their NPS scores & customer retention.

We were recently joined by Tammi Zelm, VP of Customer Experience at Emtek ASSA ABLOY— a global leader in access solutions. In the webinar, Tammi spoke on how they creatively structured ASSA ABLOY’s coaching culture in four steps leading to an overall increase in their NPS scores.

A recent survey found that 63% of contact center teams will operate on a hybrid model once a vaccine is widely available. With that shift, organizations are realizing the far reaching implications of this new norm, far more than originally imagined.

According to Tammi, it’s no small feat to replicate the human component on the contact center floor at ASSA ABLOY. This includes consistent reassurance for agents, on-spot feedback, peer-to-peer learning, or simply expressing a vote of confidence for good performance. But it’s not impossible, and it’s an investment ASSA ABLOY knew they had to make.

To build trust, team spirit, forge friendships and share a ‘mission-first mindset’, you need the right technology, creative engagement, and transparency across teams.

In this blog post, we'll cover the the four important building blocks that ASSA ABLOY systematically deployed for building team culture and driving agent performance.

The ultimate result? Higher NPS scores & better customer retention.

Step 1: Promote adoption of new technology

Prior to March 2020, the CX team at ASSA ABLOY had a paper-driven environment. Everybody had desktops instead of laptops. The team wasn’t really focusing on the culture of working from home and hadn’t invested in any remote work applications.

But as they transitioned to remote work, switching to a digital-first, virtual-enabled system was the obvious, sustainable solution going forward, as per Tammi.

That’s when they implemented Observe.AI. Tammi explains the motivation behind this shift. 

“Our main focus in introducing this new technology was to keep the employee and customers perspectives in mind: What’s in it for them?”

For example, agents raise conflict requests for QA evaluations all the time. They don’t always agree with a supervisor’s evaluation and ratings. That’s because at the end of the day, evaluations are subjective to the person evaluating the agent. AI fixes that.

With Observe.AI, the supervisors at ASSA ABLOY could now show agents that 100% of their interactions are evaluated. This built a new trust and transparency, fostering a much more impactful, sustainable relationship between supervisors and agents.

💡Tammi’s Tip: CX teams know their goals and their priorities are always centered around customer satisfaction. It’s important to show your agents how technology can ease and improve their daily customer interactions.

After introducing Observe.AI, the teams’ initial reaction was skeptical. As Tammi rightly pointed out, “100% visibility into agent performance” might feel like a surveillance tool to your agents.

So instead, her team thwarted this fear and showed their agents how to use Observe.AI to their advantage:

Moving from a subjective, paper-driven environment, to empowering agents with technology and 100% visibility at individual levels wasn’t natural, but adopting Observe.AI was quite easy for all teams at the company.

Step 2: Creatively engage your remote teams

At ASSA ABLOY, they’ve instilled interesting and creative methods to engage their agents in a remote setting.

Their aim was to replicate the energy on the contact center floor by bringing transparency, visibility and constant feedback loops into remote work.

  1. Real-time feedback:
    Since work became completely virtual, Tammi wanted to replicate the behavior of regularly stopping and checking in on their agents. Using Observe.AI’s Agent Performance and Coaching, she enabled real-time feedback loops to ensure there’s always an open line of communication across the team.
  1. More evaluations: After implementing Observe.AI, they also witnessed an increase in QA efficiency by 25% leading to 4x more evaluations. That’s one interaction every week for personalized and timely coaching. It freed up time for the team to address other important work from home issues like anxiety or burnout.
  1. Unwinding virtual monthly meetings: Amidst technological adoptions, human connections gets lost. So to humanize the agents, ASSA ABLOY regularly holds raffles and creative competitions. They also hold voluntary, after hours, virtual get-togethers. It’s fun, personal, and gives the team a casual platform to discuss life outside of work, and stay connected.

Step 3: Bring balance between data and human connection

Two words: Constant feedback. You can either overanalyze and put a bunch of goals in place using data or build a personalized plan of action and measure what matters. That's they key to driving customer retention.

At ASSA ABLOY, instead of measuring performance using typical call center KPIs, they concentrated their efforts into increasing the quality of customer interactions.

An agent might hit their metric like number of calls, low average handle time (AHT), low dead air — but those interactions might not directly correlate into a positive customer experience. That’s being overly data driven and eventually detrimental.

What you need is to analyze the data at your disposal to build personalized coaching programs for the agents. This will shift the agent’s focus from meeting numbers to building positive customer interactions, which is ultimately helping us drive customer retention metrics up year by year.

💡Tammi’s Tip: In one-on-one virtual coaching sessions, try to set the tone around how it isn’t just about hitting the numbers but the quality of interactions as well.

Step 4: Finally, drive up your NPS scores

At ASSA ABLOY, they send out an annual NPS customer satisfaction survey.

Pre-pandemic, their manufacturing time to produce orders was originally between one and three days. But as the pandemic spread, their manufacturing time went up. In some cases between ten to twelve days. Obviously with that rise, they started getting more frustrated customer queries.

Yet, the CX team achieved a 6-point gain in the 2020 NPS score versus 2019.

Tammi concludes by saying, 

“We credit the gain in NPS to empowering our agents with excellent technology to better support our customers. There’s nothing more powerful than automated workflows and frequent real-time feedback to instantaneously improve customer experience (and the agent experience at the same time). ASSA ABLOY agents are happy; supervisors are happy; QAs are happy. Introducing Contact Center AI into the day to day was a good move for us.”
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Vartika Gupta
Content Marketing manager
LinkedIn profile
June 17, 2021

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