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VoiceOps Executive Interview

Shari Tishman, Head of Marketing, VoiceOps

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VoiceOps: A Passion for Improving Performance Driven by Coaching Enablement

Founded in 2016, VoiceOps helps companies achieve higher ROI by making contact center coaching more effective. The VoiceOps Coaching Enablement Platform was designed to drive lasting behavior change among reps at scale, leading to higher conversion rates, reduced attrition rates and ramp time, as well as a more consultative experience for customers. VoiceOps currently works with some of the leading companies in industries including financial services, consumer lending, insurance, education, travel, and hospitality.

In an extended conversation with VoiceOps Head of Marketing Shari Tishman, CrmXchange Managing Partner Sheri Greenhaus got a detailed analysis of the ways their offering stands out from other solutions on the market. 

What is VoiceOps?

We call VoiceOps a ‘coaching enablement solution’ because it helps contact center teams get more value from customer conversations across the board by facilitating enhanced coaching. We increase performance in all areas, decrease gaps in performance among reps, and then lower costs associated with ramp time and attrition. We also influence manager-to-rep ratios by providing better coaching. Our mission is to ensure agents are as effective as they can possibly be.

How does VoiceOps work?

The VoiceOps platform has a proprietary transcription and behavior labeling operation that uses the audio recordings of calls and turns them into high-quality transcripts that have labels of key behaviors for success that are most important to teams.  A call flow can then be created for key behaviors. Let’s take the collections industry for example. Some of their parameters for key behaviors often include finding out the reasons for delinquency and establishing payment timelines. The VoiceOps solution is able to identify not just if that behavior occurred during the call, but whether it should have occurred. An extremely nuanced level of context within a call is provided -- as well as across multiple calls -- to provide a clear view of the adherence of each team member to these desired behaviors. 

In addition, our platform provides the ability for managers and supervisors to quickly identify coachable moments, allowing for both asynchronous and 1-to-1 support via scheduled meetings to coach those specific behaviors across many simultaneous calls. This saves the time of having to go call by call to identify elements which could be improved.

How does a company start with VoiceOps?

When a company starts out with us, our professional services team works with them to determine the behaviors they wish to reinforce. The evaluation…which we call ‘behavior calibration’ …begins in the pre-sale period and it is designed to ensure that the company will be able to benefit from our solution given both the needs of their team and customers. We work hand in hand with our clients to set up world-class coaching programs which makes our offering more than just another tech tool. VoiceOps is a complete end-to-end behavioral coaching stack that allows leadership, coaches, and reps at all levels to get relevant data that has a significant impact on performance. It then enables easy and efficient coaching using these data to create rapid and consistent behavior change. 

All we need are audio recordings to get the process started.  We can then leverage industry-specific call models we’ve developed for collections, for example, or one for travel and hospitality that we can adapt. That is essentially the set-up of our implementation process. Unlike other platforms, where there is a constant need to enter additional keywords and continually hone the approach… one where a team member of the company has to know Structured Query Language (SQL) to set up the right queries to get the data out of the system…our clients spend upfront time with us during the calibration process. Then, the data just rolls in.  After, there may be quarterly recalibrations with the company during executive business reviews, but that is really the extent of the need for technical involvement from the client. The client can easily and continuously access the data they need and act on it from a coaching standpoint. 

While we provide high-quality call analytics, we focus specifically on the desired key behaviors. Our position is that coaching is what matters and what is going to move the needle. Our concentration is on enabling superior coaching, which ends up having outsized and rapid results on key performance indicators and the top line results as well. It usually takes under 60 days to get VoiceOps up and running…sometimes as little as 45 days, and that is with implementation and training of the entire team. The calibration process and initial data set-up could take as little as two weeks. Rollouts and adoption plans are part of the process as well. The focus is on effective change management.

In your opinion, why do some coaching programs not yield constant, positive results?

At best, some coaching/training programs work for a while and then stop or never produce desired results. We believe that is because people often forget things and unless the process becomes part of a company’s day-to-day operating procedures and is constantly reinforced, it’s unlikely that it is going to stick. Maintaining a high level of ongoing reinforcement is one of the fundamental aspects of VoiceOps. Consistent reinforcement is what creates the behavioral change. What makes our solution so effective is that it can be done asynchronously as well, without having to take reps off the phone. 

The platform allows agents and their managers to interact, giving managers the opportunity to provide coaching feedback and agents to respond to their guidance in an asynchronous fashion that reinforces training. It supports the conversations that may be happening between coaches and agents in one-on-ones. It doesn’t replace one-on-ones: it amplifies them. Thus, these meetings become more productive because the areas of point feedback…telling the agent what they should have said in specific situations…has already been accomplished. They can talk in more broad terms about performance and how to improve it, which establishes more trust and confidence in the relationship.

What does the agent see?

Agents get on-screen notifications and then can go into the platform between calls to see what’s been commented upon. The system identifies any issues, and the supervisor has a view of all of an agent’s calls. The first step is to determine whether the agent is adhering to the key behaviors. The supervisor might look one day and realize an agent is lagging in terms of meeting payment deadlines. While that agent is doing all right in other areas, the company wants everyone at 100% in these critical categories. Our impetus is not to make all of a company’s agents the same as their best agent, but to make everyone - including the best agent- better. If someone is only at 30% adherence on setting payment timelines, then the supervisor can access the system to show all of the specific agent’s calls where payment timelines should have been implemented. The supervisor can look into calls where it did happen to provide positive reinforcement and those where it did not to offer insight on how the agent could have performed better on that call.

We provide managers with the ability to snap to the exact moment where payment timeline procedures should have occurred when they listen to the calls. They never have to listen to a full recording again because the transcripts are so precise, and the behavior labeling is so accurate. This frees up a lot of time.  Rather than spend 60 minutes coaching on one call that they hope addresses the payment timeline issue, the supervisor can spend 30 minutes coaching on 10 or even 15 calls. The ability to snap to the moment when behavior is in question and provide reinforcement feedback in a far shorter timeframe makes the process far more efficient. The agent can then immediately see all the information on how they can improve in a succinct and coherent fashion.

The intention is that the supervisor is able to coach daily. VoiceOps enables roll-ups into coaching forms, which many teams already have in place. We integrate with that process as well as part of the implementation. The coaching form will include a roll-up of all the comments provided, a useful aggregation of all the feedback, topics and behaviors which can then be productively discussed during scheduled meetings. Both elements of review are important: the asynchronous evaluations that happen throughout the week and the one-on-one sessions. The agent plays an active role by viewing and responding to the ongoing feedback.

Please explain behavior-based coaching?

The concept of ‘behavior-based coaching’ has been around for a while. We may not have coined the term, but we have responded to the challenge of establishing workflows where agents can be coached on crucial key behaviors across many simultaneous calls.  We have developed the technology to make such coaching a reality. Companies needed the accurate call analysis and the behavior labeling -- we gave them a platform that allows them to go from call to call and find the exact moment that is relevant in each one. While theoretically it could be accomplished without a dedicated technology, what we offer makes it more efficient and effective, especially when it needs to be scalable. This capability makes a significant difference in the potential for cost reductions by allowing some larger organizations to dramatically evolve their manager-to-agent ratio from 10-to-1 to something previously unattainable like 30-to-1. Making managers so much more efficient is what makes it all possible. 

The quality of the data must be very important.

When we talk about striving to be perfect, we are talking about data quality, so that the accuracy of our behavior labeling makes VoiceOps optimally effective for our clients as quickly as possible. A big part of that is applying the data models we’ve built to fit our clients’ needs. Our Client Success team is doing an excellent job of implementation and adoption. We are seeing behavior levels improve within 30 to 60 days after the platform is fully operational and conversion rates go up correspondingly. 

What is the reaction from agents?

In most cases, the vast majority of agents come to love the system because it is actionable and consistent. The entire team and the company behind it are aligned around a definition of the behaviors that the agent needs to follow to do their jobs better. They can see multiple examples from the past week that their coach or manager gave them that make a difference and feel that they know exactly what to do to improve. Many agents appreciate that the platform is both extremely straightforward and practical. 

We wish more companies would think more about the steps required to significantly improve performance on an ongoing basis. A partner like us can help them analyze existing data and understand what is happening on their calls based on the things that matter most to them. Having these insights would enable them to comprehend where their team is right now and where they would like agents to do better. This in turn would help them figure out an effective coaching workflow, the right set of metrics and established expectations around activity. 

We’ve dedicated the first five years of our company’s existence to building out the capability to provide the most important data, and that has meant creating a new approach to doing that as well as possible. The platform offers company leaders easily accessible views across teams within the contact center which allows them to see whose teams are doing the best in terms of behavior adherence. 

Our tagline is, “Always Be Coaching,” and when a company invests in their people, they need to leverage technology and creative ways to employ it to affect a difference. It makes people happier and more successful as well as providing a competitive advantage in contact centers, which has been an area where it is quite difficult to move the needle. Our clients are experiencing more than simply incremental improvement in their numbers. We’re passionate about coaching and we don’t believe that there is such a thing as just being good enough. It needs to be the best and that is our aim.