In any profession, one of the most effective ways to observe an employee’s performance is to look over their shoulder and listen as they do their job. This practice allows managers and supervisors to connect with their employees, giving them a complete picture of their performance for more insightful coaching and development. And this level of context simply cannot be gained by staring at metrics dashboards all day.

In contact centers, this is often referred to as “side jacking” (or shadowing, side-by-sides, monitoring, observing, and a host of other names), which entails sitting with agents, adding a splitter to their headset, if listening to phone calls, and observing them as they interact with customers.

Similarly, the live monitoring functionality in a robust contact center platform offers the ability to hear agents and see their screen activity without being in the same proximity. While side jacking has value, there are a number of reasons the ability to live monitor is superior. In fact, I have four to share with you.

1. Working in the same location as your agents is no longer a given

When it comes to the contact center operation for many companies, diversification of location is the strategy as the team scales. It’s not uncommon to see a blend of in-house, remote, and outsourced agents spanning the globe. This increases the possibility that a supervisor isn’t located in the same place as the agents they are supervising. A contact center platform with the ability to not only hear, but to see and record agent screens, empowers supervisors to evaluate their agents as if they were sitting right next to them.

2. Sitting next to an agent doesn’t guarantee their best work

I once sat next to an agent so I could learn more about the work she was doing and my presence caused her to get so nervous that she had difficulty typing. Not known for having an intimidating air about me, I felt bad for putting her through that and realized that some people don’t perform at their best when they know an authority figure is watching them. Live monitoring the agent remotely would have given me a more realistic gauge of her work.

3. Timing no longer has to be perfect

Speaking of timing, do any of these scenarios resonate with you?

  • You finally have some time to sit with your agents and observe their work and you quickly realize that your lull is their lull. You sit around awkwardly waiting for the phone to ring or a chat to arrive.
  • You sit down with an agent who happens to be in the middle of a long customer interaction and you aren't able to observe from start to finish.
  • You are using the live monitoring functionality in your contact center platform as the sole way to evaluate agent calls. I once did this because we weren’t recording calls for quality assurance. This makes it difficult to catch the beginning of a phone call and nearly impossible to evaluate the entire customer interaction.

A contact center platform with continuous live monitoring functionality notifies supervisors when agents begin a new call so they can evaluate the complete interaction without wasting valuable time.

4. Multichannel contact centers need to monitor multiple channels

Let’s face it. Customers still call customer service but the voice channel has certainly had to move over and share the spotlight with email, chat, and other digital customer service channels. This is an area where live monitoring functionality, with the ability to monitor the agent’s desktop, adds significant value. When evaluating a chat interaction, for example, it helps to not only read the chat transcript but also to see how the agent navigated the chat platform, how they balanced multiple conversations at once and used their other available tools to resolve the customer’s issue.

While you may still prefer to look over the shoulder of your agents, an increasing number of contact centers don’t have that luxury. Live monitoring makes your contact center more versatile in the ongoing quest to effectively evaluate and coach agent performance. On the topic of coaching, this ebook titled “How to Leverage Quality Management to Transform the Customer Experience” contains more fresh coaching ideas that might be of interest to you.