10 Signs Your Contact Center’s Coaching Practices Need Work

 
Teams rarely succeed without a good coach. Contact center teams are certainly no exception. Solid coaching is essential to keep both new and experienced agents focused, forever improving, and from jumping out of windows.

How effective is the coaching that occurs in your contact center? If any of the following 10 signs accurately describe your situation, your center could likely use some coaching itself. Perhaps even some painkillers for agents … and customers.

1. You read the title of this blog post and thought, “Coaching? What’s coaching?” If coaching is non-existent in your contact center, so is agent development and engagement, customer satisfaction, and continuous operational improvement.

2. Your supervisors are foregoing sleep and taking performance-enhancing drugs to find time and energy to provide coaching. Coaching should be relatively easy to conduct, not a Herculean task to pull off. Processes and policies need to be created/revamped to free supervisors up to deliver comprehensive coaching sessions that set agents – and the center – up for success.

3. Your center’s use of e-learning as a coaching tool consists of supervisors texting your agents, “You really blew that last call – get better.” E-learning is an invaluable coaching tool, but modules need to be comprehensive, customized and actionable.

4. By the time agents receive feedback on a call they handled, they’ve already been promoted to Marketing. Post-contact coaching needs to be delivered in a timely manner, while the interaction is still fresh in the agent’s mind. Timely coaching also provides damage control – ensuring that the agent doesn’t continue their poor performance traits with too many other customers going forward.

5. Agents have created a secret underground fight club to help them vent their frustration over their latest coaching session. Coaching should be engaging and collaborative, not demoralizing and authoritative. Following a coaching session, agents should be eager to improve – not eager to punch someone in the face.

6. During unexpected lulls in call volume, agents are left twiddling their thumbs rather than honing their skills. In the most agile contact centers, supervisors/coaches take advantage of slow periods by delivering “just-in-time” coaching and training to agents’ desktops – thus maximizing productivity and development (while being careful not to overwhelm agents with SO much work between calls that they never get a chance to decompress.

RELATED POST: It’s Time for Change in the Contact Center

7. Your agents receive more hours of therapy than they do coaching. An hour or so of coaching per agent each month won’t cut it, and leads to poor service and customer frustration that will likely land the agent in an asylum. In the most successful contact centers, supervisors spend 60%-70% of their time monitoring and coaching – thus sustaining a culture of perpetual learning and improvement… and sanity.

8. Your agents wear protective gear to coaching sessions. Coaching isn’t about beating agents up over what they’re doing wrong; rather it’s an opportunity to empower them to improve, and to praise them for what they’re doing well.

9. Your agent development plans read like mandates from Mussolini. The best coaches are collaborators, not dictators. They actively involve agents in the creation of development plans, realizing that a participative approach to coaching leads to much more improvement than an authoritative one does. 

10. Nobody ever coaches your coaches. To ensure that your agents are receiving timely, fair and effective feedback, it’s important for your center’s supervisors to find themselves on the receiving end of a coaching session every once in a while. It’s dangerous to assume that every supervisor naturally knows how to coach. Having a manager or trainer evaluate them on their ability to develop and empower agents can prove invaluable to agent performance and engagement – and, of course, the customer experience.    

BONUS sign: When your agents sit around a campfire, they tell coaching stories instead of ghost stories. Nuff said.

 

About the author

Author of Full Contact: Contact Center Practices and Strategies that Make an Impact. He has written hundreds of feature articles, case studies, blog posts and research reports on contact center best practices trends and challenges. He is founder and principal of Off Center, which provides a variety of resources to educate, inspire and entertain contact center professionals. Levin is the former editor of ICMI’s pioneering publication Service Level Newsletter, as well as its highly regarded follow-up journal Call Center Management Review.

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