Home-Based Heroes Need Agent Coaching Love, Too!
It’s hard enough to coach with agents in your center who sit close by, but it can be even more challenging coaching with those farther away.
Many home agents are part of skills monitoring and coaching programs that are timely and motivating. Some aren’t that fortunate and may find themselves wondering if they still have a supervisor. Or worse yet, they hear from their supervisor only about errors made or procedural changes.
Coaching with agents virtually is an art that takes practice and planning. We need to find creative ways to engage with our home agent, making sure they have consistent coaching and motivation.
If you work with current agents who have been given home-based work opportunities based on quality and experience levels, they are used to having daily contact with their team members and access to supervisors and trainers. The transition to working at home sounds exciting initially, however their enthusiasm can soon be lost if the supervisor and trainers aren’t continuing to support them proactively and make them feel a part of the team.
Hiring work at home agents directly without bringing them into your center first for initial training and agent coaching requires some different approaches to new hire development.
Regardless of the size of your remote teams, you’ll benefit from careful planning for the following:
Call Recording System
Whether you use an inexpensive small center system or enterprise-wide solution, having a user-friendly comprehensive call recording system is key to coaching and motivating our in-center and home agents. In addition to having the coach work with them virtually using the recordings, skill rating tools and having a webcam coaching session in real time, home agents can listen to their own calls and critique themselves. Interactive quality discussions will be very engaging if done positively.
Studies continue to validate the importance of using a variety of training methods instead of “one size fits all” modules. Smart center managers know this and have a blend of the following:
- E-Learning modules including knowledge tests, delivered during low-volume periods
- In-house produced videos of company product, sales and service experts discussing skills and product updates
- Onsite classes (if the home agent is able to travel to your location)
- Recommendations for continued education offered local community resources such as technical colleges
Consistent Positive Contact and Motivation
Remember, “Out of sight = Out of mind.”
That’s how some home agents may feel. Regular contact will help make them feel a part of the team. Make sure they are eligible for contests, games and activities you have planned. Send them a birthday card and have lunch or sweet treats delivered to their home on center celebration days (birthdays, holidays, etc). Have their team sing happy birthday or congratulate them as a group via webcam. Take them on a “tour” of new facilities and meet new employees by taking your laptop with webcam around the center for them to “see” what is happening.
Gamification is one way to offer a universal motivation tool for both in-house and home agents. This can be very motivating for many agents during their break times or as rewards for success with metrics or skills improvements. You can also use team games and contests to motivate healthy competition: home agents versus in-house or home agents paired with in-house agents.
Use Social Media
Encourage internal “chat” with co-workers (during appropriate work times of course!) and have an internal social media channel for all employees to read and share. Invite home agents to send a work “selfie” photo of themselves at their home office desk and post on the internal center website or a newsletter if you have agent “spotlight” segments in it.
Home-Based Supervisor for Home-Based Agents
If you have a large enough team or teams of remote agents, offer one of your supervisors the chance to work from home, too. Working in their home-based office every day will give the supervisor a new perspective on the highs and lows of working away from the daily center action. Virtual systems for agent coaching, training and monitoring of operational activities are available to support supervisors and managers working from home so they won’t be out of the loop either. Managers need to make sure that the home-based supervisors have the coaching, motivation and support they need as well so managers must consistently schedule these activities with remote leadership, too.
If you have remote agents or are considering adding them to your center mix, be sure that you have carefully thought out not only the processes for technology and policies, but also how you will successfully coach, motivate and retain your hard-working home-based heroes.