Teddy Bears Merchant Calls on Monitoring System

Retailers have traditionally been holdouts when it comes to investing in call recording/quality monitoring software for their contact centers. Many still do “manual” monitoring, in which the contact center manager listens in on random live calls and takes notes.

Take, for example, Vermont Teddy Bear Co. Up until a few years ago, the multichannel merchant’s contact center managers would monitor the performance of the agents by walking up and down the aisles and listening in on random calls. If a manager happened to hear a problem, he would meet with the agent later to discuss it.

But in 2005, Vermont Teddy Bear Co. invested in a quality monitoring/e-learning system, Click2Coach from Envision. The system offers call recording/quality monitoring to uncover agent performance problems, as well as e-learning capabilities to deliver targeted audio/video training clips directly to agent desktops.

According to Anthony D’Andrea, Vermont Teddy Bear’s quality control coach, Click2Coach has reduced average call handle time from 7.8 minutes to 5.9 minutes, which is significant when you consider that the center handles more than 4,000 calls a day during the busy season. First-call resolution rates – in which the customer’s inquiry or order is completed on the first call — have also improved, he says.

Before the system was deployed, VTB’s contact center managers would evaluate agent performance on paper, which was arduous and time-consuming. Now, agent evaluations are automated through the system. These automated evaluations not only allow managers to identify areas for improvement, but also create consistent communication throughout the contact center.

With Click2Coach’s automated and on-demand call recording software with screen capture, managers can record agent/customer interactions, identify agent performance problems — and then, using the system’s e-learning capabilities, send targeted, custom training clips to agent’s desks. This can be done either immediately after a call, on a set schedule, or by integrating the system in with the contact center’s workforce management software, so when call volumes drop, training is automatically pushed to those agents who need it.

D’Andrea says Vermont Teddy Bear uses the system to automatically record about three calls per agent per shift. With each call, the company’s interactive voice response (IVR) system identifies what the customer is calling about, and then steers the call to the appropriate agent. The recording software automatically records the call based on how it was classified, for instance, a question about a new product, or a customer who needs help returning something, or who has a question about shipping. Using the rules-based “schedule wizard” integrated with the software, the system can be set up to automatically record calls at selected times or intervals, as well as to record specific agents.

Each recorded interaction is automatically stored in a database known as the “training library,” and can be retrieved, either by the supervisor or the agent, at any point in time so that it can be used as an example of what, or what not, to do during a particular type of interaction.

Vermont Teddy Bear is also using the quality monitoring software to record what’s happening on the agent’s screen during an interaction. The screen capture is synchronized with the audio, so the manager (or the agent) can listen to the interaction and also see what happened on the desktop at the same time. D’Andrea says this capability is particularly useful for training agents on how to use Vermont Teddy Bear’s DOS-based (and therefore mouse-less) order entry systems.

During its slow season, Vermont Teddy Bear employs about 45 agents in its contact center located at its corporate headquarters in Shelburne VT. But during its two busy seasons in February (Valentine’s Day) and May (Mother’s Day) — when the company does more than 40% of its annual sales — its workforce expands to nearly 700 agents. That’s a lot of agents to hire and train in a short time frame.

On the e-learning side, Vermont Teddy Bear is benefitting from Click2Coach’s ability to deliver custom training in the classroom, as well as personalized coaching at agents’ desks. D’Andrea says during the peak season, Vermont Teddy Bear provides all new hires with 18.5 hours of paid training in a classroom facility, during which the system is used to deliver custom-developed content, including pre-recorded interactions that they can hear and see via an overhead projector. These pre-recorded interactions are part of the initial training materials that are stored the cataloger’s training library (a separate server which is used to store all the content delivered through the e-learning system).

The merchant has also achieved a dramatic improvement in agent performance through the use of targeted training clips, which are delivered directly to agent desktops. After an interaction has been recorded, a manager can take a section of the recording which has been flagged as problematic, make a short audio/video clip out of it (with screen capture included), and annotate it with text, additional audio or additional video to “coach” the agent on how to improve. This means the agent gets targeted training while the context of the interaction is still fresh. This boosts retention and helps agents improve their skills faster compared to traditional training methods.

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