Call Center Performance Improvement: 7 Tips for Inbound Mystery Coaching Call Evaluations

The Value of Feedback


First things first: accurate, timely feedback offers tremendous value to both call center front line agents and their employers. Mystery calls – calls where a third party evaluates customer service performance as well as adherence to specific company policies remotely via telephone – are a widely-used practice that let companies keep tabs on agent performance while providing the feedback they need to improve.

From your Company’s perspective, inbound mystery coaching calls help improve front line performance, which boosts overall quality. And from your agent’s point-of-view, constructive, timely, goal-oriented feedback can be a godsend – helping them understand what’s needed to stay in-line with supervisor- and corporate expectations and succeed at their jobs. 

Mystery Calls: A Role Playing and Learning Opportunity

A mystery call evaluation consists of two parts. First is the mystery call itself, the role-playing portion. This is followed by coaching…the learning opportunity for the agent. Some mystery caller programs miss the mark when executing the coaching piece, however, using it to merely identify what they consider a ‘problem’…with less attention paid to solutions.

Is your company implementing a mystery call program? Here are 7 Tips for Improving Inbound Mystery Coaching Call Evaluations.

  1. Provide Actionable Feedback, Not Advice.
    To most people, ‘feedback’ and ‘advice’ are conceptually one-and-the-same. There are some subtle differences, however, in the context of mystery call evaluations. With feedback, coaches point out what the agent isn’t Giving an agent advice, on the other hand, informs them what action they should be doing. What does this mean in a practical sense?Feedback: “Do you realize that you didn’t address the customer by name?”
    Advice: “I want you to use the customer’s name.

    Coaching sessions should always start with what the agent thought of the transaction, not the coach. If the agent fails to pick up on a specific goal (for example: addressing the customer by name), the supervisor should offer constructive criticism, beginning with feedback. With mystery call evaluations, a coach should only point out what’s actually occurring and allow the agent to talk about how they would correct their actions. It’s important that the coach’s feedback be actionable – it should motivate a specific agent behavior.

  2. Use Goal-Specific Coaching.
    Feedback should be tied to clearly-defined performance standard goals. By linking actions to specific performance objectives, coaches can offer goal-specific feedback. Clearly-defined goals are easier for front line call center agents to understand – making it easier for them to improve.

  3. Provide Consistent and Ongoing Feedback.
    Coaching isn’t something to be picked up and dropped – it should never stop. It can, however, be changed occasionally to keep the program fresh. Maintaining consistency is also critical. Keeping coaching aligned with the latest performance standards helps the coaches provide consistent feedback to agents.

  4. Deliver Feedback Now.
    One key advantage of mystery coaching calls is turnaround, since feedback is given immediately at the end of the call. It doesn’t get any timelier than that – since the call will still be fresh in the agent’s mind.

  5. Make the Feedback User-Friendly.
    Whatever criteria are set for front line agents, it’s important to make the goals realistic and achievable. If they are neither, agents won’t invest the time to learn, adapt their actions and improve outcomes…and morale will suffer as a result. A training or announcement should launch the mystery coaching call and be set up as an “open book quiz.” The objective is for agents to succeed and the supervisor’s job should be to provide the support necessary to succeed.

  6. You’ll Catch More Bees With Honey, Not Criticism.
    Mystery calling is an extremely powerful platform for providing feedback to agents, but feedback tends to be disregarded when it is introduced in a negative way. Beginning the coaching session with a positive statement makes the agent more receptive to the feedback and improves its value.

  7. Agents with Skin in the Game.
    Adding an incentive to the mystery calling process makes it all the more fun and motivating for the agents – read our earlier post on rewards-driven employee development programs for more details.

Does your call center use mystery call coaching as a quality improvement tool?