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Call Center Coaching: 5 Steps to Effectiveness

Melissa Pollock
Melissa Pollock
V.P. Client Success | AmplifAI
Call Center Coaching: 5 Steps to Effectiveness

Are your call center coaching methods failing to deliver? It's time to examine why your agents continue to repeat errors despite your consistent coaching efforts.

In this article we'll be exploring key elements often overlooked in traditional coaching methods—from outdated coaching techniques to deficiencies in interpersonal skills that will significantly impact your coaching success.

We will be reviewing the procedural and interpersonal challenges to effective call center coaching.

Additionally, we'll be highlighting an innovative call center coaching software that effectively addresses these challenges.

Leading our discussions are Jim Rembach, President of Call Center Coach, and Melissa Pollock, VP of Client Success at AmplifAI.

This article builds on insights shared in the webinar, "How to Supercharge Agent Performance With Effective Call Center Coaching," featuring Jim and Melissa.

Watch the full webinar below to gain a deeper understanding of how to refine your call center's coaching strategies.

5. Procedural Challenges Affecting Call Center Coaching Effectiveness

Let's be honest, inconsistent and ineffective coaching is a huge problem in call centers.

Despite everyone's best intentions, agents don't always improve, and it's frustrating for both them and their supervisors.  A major contributor to this problem is the widening skill gap driven by digital transformation.  

Agents are increasingly required to master advanced relationship-building, multitasking, and problem-solving skills. If coaching methods don't adapt,  agents will struggle to keep up – a concern validated by a McKinsey survey where 94% of senior customer-care executives anticipate rising skill demands in the coming years.  

These skills gaps, along with other factors, make it essential to address the  procedural challenges that often hinder coaching effectiveness.

1. Lack of Standardized Coaching Methods

Lack of standardized coaching methods is a major procedural challenge in call centers. Without a consistent approach, agents receive conflicting feedback, supervisors struggle to provide targeted guidance, and overall coaching becomes ineffective.

This inconsistency undermines agent development and frustrates everyone involved.

To address this issue, call center leaders must consider the following:

  • Implement a standardized call center coaching approach (like one-call/one-case or trended coaching).
  • Choose a method that best supports overall call center goals.
  • Select a coaching model (Balanced, GROW, Oskar, Clear, Fuel, etc.) that aligns with these goals.
  • Provide comprehensive training for supervisors on the chosen coaching approach, model, and how to deliver effective feedback.
  • Develop a centralized system for documenting coaching sessions, follow-ups, and outcomes for easy tracking and analysis.
  • Establish clear expectations for how and when agents will receive feedback, both to improve performance and recognize achievements.
  • Develop a system to evaluate coaches' coaching effectiveness regularly.

2. Unclear Coaching Expectations

Unclear coaching expectations create confusion and frustration in your call center. Without defined goals, agents don't know what to prioritize, and supervisors struggle to provide meaningful guidance. This lack of direction undermines coaching effectiveness and hinders agent development.

To address this challenge, call center leadership should clearly communicate the following:

Highlight the value of coaching for development

Position coaching as a tool for agent growth and engagement alongside any necessary corrective guidance.

Set reasonable expectations for call center coaching frequency

Define how often agents should generally expect coaching sessions and what factors could impact this.

Identify priority KPIs for coaching focus

Align coaching priorities with overall business goals while still allowing supervisors some flexibility to address individual agent needs.

Provide guidance on target groups for coaching

Clarify if coaching is meant for all agents equally or if it will prioritize certain groups (new hires, under-performers, etc.)

3. Poorly Defined Coaching Logistics

Many call center operations lack clear guidance on the logistics of coaching, leaving frontline leaders uncertain about where and when to coach. This ambiguity leads to inconsistency and frustration for both agents and supervisors, hindering coaching effectiveness.

To address these logistical challenges, call center leaders must clearly communicate the following:

  • Designated coaching spaces: Define where coaching should occur (quiet rooms, supervisor desks, etc.) to minimize disruptions and ensure a conducive environment.
  • Coaching tools and technology: Specify if coaching sessions should involve reviewing calls on a computer or can be more informal conversational sessions.
  • Optimal times for coaching: Provide guidance on the best times of day for coaching (avoiding high-volume periods) and, if applicable, days/times to avoid.
  • Initiation and scheduling procedures: Establish a clear system for scheduling coaching sessions, whether initiated by agents or supervisors, and define how to handle cancellations or rescheduling.
  • Flexibility: Allow for some personalization based on individual agent needs and supervisor styles, while still maintaining consistency in core logistical expectations.
  • Remote coaching guidelines: If remote coaching is part of your operation, define specific expectations for technology, timing, and overall structure.

4. Limited Performance Data Visibility

A lack of visibility into performance data hinders both agent development and coaching effectiveness in your call center. When agents rely solely on supervisors for feedback, progress tracking becomes difficult, and opportunities for real-time improvement are missed.

To address this challenge, call centers must:

  • Provide agents with direct access to performance data: Implement tools that allow agents to see their metrics, including comparisons to top performers, in real-time or near real-time.
  • Reduce supervisors' manual workload: Utilize systems that automatically track coaching sessions, follow-ups, and performance trends, reducing the administrative burden on supervisors.
  • Empower agents for self-improvement: By providing visibility into their own performance history, agents can identify areas for improvement and take ownership of their development.
  • Enable data-driven coaching: Give supervisors access to trended agent performance insights, enabling targeted coaching interventions and identification of recurring issues for proactive solutions.

5. Ineffective Coaching Tracking and Analysis

Without a robust tracking system, your call center can't fully assess the impact of coaching efforts or support the development of your coaches. This lack of data makes it difficult for leadership to identify areas for improvement and provide coaches with the feedback they need to grow.

To address this your call center must:

  1. Start tracking coaching sessions with a focus on the agent coached, areas addressed, and specific outcomes.
  2. Track key metrics to measure coaching effectiveness over time. Examples include agent performance improvement, average handle time, first call resolution, and CSAT scores.
  3. Use insights from this data to provide targeted feedback and development opportunities for coaches. Celebrate successes while addressing areas where additional training or support may be needed.

Remember, the pinnacle of achieving real-time improvement lies in EFFECTIVE coaching. However, effective coaching can only be realized through a combination of procedural infrastructure and people leadership skills.

While the infrastructure provides a consistent framework for all parties to operate within known parameters, leadership skills are vital for fostering a culture of development over compliance. Together, they form the backbone of a successful and impactful coaching program in call centers.

procedural challenges affecting call center coaching effectiveness

And that leads us into discussion of the second major challenge preventing us from delivering effective contact center coaching – interpersonal leadership, or ‘people’ skills!

Leadership's Role in Call Center Coaching

Impact of people skills on call center coaching effectiveness

The Cost of Leadership Failure

DDI reports that a staggering 80% of contact center agents leave their jobs due to poor leadership, often citing their supervisor's behavior as the primary reason. This alarming statistic underscores the significant impact that leadership skills have on employee retention, engagement, and overall call center performance. 

reasons frontline leaders fail to coach call center agents

The financial implications of this high turnover rate can be substantial. The cost of replacing an agent can range from $3,000 to $30,000, depending on experience and training requirements. Additionally, the loss of productivity and customer satisfaction during the transition period can further erode profitability.

But the negative impact of poor leadership goes beyond just the bottom line. It creates a toxic work environment that harms morale, reduces engagement, and ultimately hinders the call center's ability to deliver exceptional customer service.

By investing in leadership development programs and equipping supervisors with the necessary interpersonal skills, call centers can empower their agents, create a more positive work environment, and reap the rewards of improved retention, engagement, and performance.

Differentiating Managing from Leading in Call Center Coaching

In call centers, the environment is often one of continuously changing priorities. On top of that, the responsibility for coaching agent performance may fall into different operational areas – across training, production, and quality. 

That means every one of us involved in agent performance have to become more effective at the more high-value activities – like engaging and developing our people. 

 Regardless of how small or large your ownership is for agent development, there are 3 core truths of which you must be aware:

  1. Managing call center coaching is not leading performance
  2. Focusing coaching sessions on negative performance increases negative performance
  3. Call Center Coaches must be leaders

Let’s consider how each of these concepts can be prohibitive to delivering more effective call center coaching.

Managing Call Center Coaching is Not Leading

Managing the coaching process is about administering and supervising coaching procedures and tools.  Although as Peter Drucker once said,

“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done.”

To empower our people to perform better, we have stop focusing on the wrong things!  Marcia Daszko, a protégé of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, and author of PIVOT DISRUPT TRANSFORM, says we must stop setting numerical goals and targets and expecting individuals to meet them.  

The unfortunate reality however, is that most call center coaching programs are deeply rooted in holding agents accountable for meeting goals and targets (and less so for the behaviors that drive attainment.)   

The resulting effect is that employees operate with checklist-style, compliance-focused adherence, rather than as empowered, engaged and innovative contributors who share ownership for customer experiences and business outcomes. 

Ultimately, we must create a system, and leaders, that enable our people to collaborate, develop skills, and effectively serve customers.  If you find you’re not getting the results you want, look to what you’re focusing on in your coaching sessions first, versus assuming your people are the problem!

The higher goal of our coaching programs should be to facilitate a coaching process, and encourage a coaching mindset, where frontline agents and supervisors own their performance and their contribution towards serving customers.

Jim Rembach, President of CX Media

Addressing Negative Trends in Call Center Coaching

In his book, It’s the Manager, Chief Scientist of Workplace and Well-Being, Jim Harter, shares that our brains are hardwired to critique others.  And traditional call center coaching programs reflect these instincts; they’re designed to rate employees and to “correct” their weaknesses.

While we may be wired to give criticism, we aren’t wired to receive it.  The approach to correct weaknesses often fails to actually improve performance – just 21% of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work

In order for a contact center coaching program to create a development culture instead of a compliance culture, coaches must be careful not to turn ongoing conversation into ongoing criticism.

Constant criticism makes it almost impossible to build trust, which makes it difficult for employees to accept critique with an open mind, and makes engagement highly unlikely.  This is why a standardized model and methods, and training on those methods, are essential for coaches to deliver on the relational needs of their people – and keep them receptive to hearing corrective input when needed. 

What best differentiates actively engaged from actively disengaged employees?  It’s the time Supervisors spend focusing on Agents’ strengths, compared to the time they spend focusing on their opportunities.  

Harter points out that there are times when giving constructive feedback is needed to help agents improve their performance – but coaches need to ensure the feedback they deliver is heavily tilted towards what employees do best.

Managers who excel at coaching have learned how to lead strengths-based and engagement-focused conversations

Gallup

Leadership's Impact on Call Center Coaching Success

Although distinctly different, “manager” and “leader” are often used interchangeably.  But those responsible for managing the call center coaching program also have to lead the engagement, performance and development of people!  

MIT defined coaching as a sophisticated management style that requires developing a relationship that empowers employees by building confidence and competence

Leadership is that intentional relationship between the leader and the led.  Respect, confidence, caring, and meeting needs are all required in order to build trust with team members so we can help them see their opportunities while ensuring they remain open and receptive to hearing feedback and discussing alternate approaches.

“Our contact center glosses over development for frontline leaders,” is something we commonly hear from senior executives.  

But you can't build a great contact center by allowing or tolerating mediocre leaders.  Everyone responsible for Agent development must also be developed themselves!

In one study, DDI reported that business outcomes of mediocre leaders in leadership roles can be devastating:

  1. 69% admitted the promotion of the wrong leaders resulted in loss of employee engagement
  2. Nearly 2/3rds experienced loss of productivity
  3. 1 in 4 respondents indicated their business suffered a loss in profitability
bad call center coaching results in loss of agent engagement

Let’s be clear, everyone responsible for the performance improvement of people is in a leader role.  But being a leader, and developing leadership competency, are two different things. 

If we want to empower our people, develop them to their potential, and engage them to put forth effort and innovation, we cannot continue to enable and tolerate mediocre leadership skills. 

Remember, the best mechanism for performance improvement in your contact center is effective coaching.  And effective coaching requires a formula consisting of defined and communicated Procedural Infrastructure + interpersonal leadership skills

And when you put together a proper system, and develop interpersonal leadership, then you can transform your contact center into one that delivers effective coaching within a culture of development, not just compliance!

There's good news for contact-center leaders. Once they understand the issues that hamper coaching effectiveness, new digital tools can help address them by improving the availability, targeting, and delivering of coaching inputs.

McKinsey & Company 

How do you develop coaching competency and consistency, at scale, across your programs, teams, sites and at home environments? 

You leverage technology to augment both your processes and your people!

Five Steps to Increase Call Center Coaching Effectiveness

Having delved into the major procedural, process, and people-related challenges in maximizing call center coaching effectiveness, we're now turning to explore how integrating the right call center coaching software in your contact center and following the five key steps to increase call center coaching effectiveness can help your team leaders to overcome the challenges we have addressed.

  1. Create a Standardized Coaching System: Define and communicate the coaching expectations, procedures, and methods.
  2. Train Effective Call Center Coaches: Focus on leadership skills and the ability to follow through.
  3. Provide Transparency into Call Center Coaching Performance: Keep track of coaching frequencies, behaviors, and action plans.
  4. Establish Key Metrics for Measuring Call Center Coaching Success: Evaluate whether individuals improve following coaching sessions.
  5. Improve Your Call Center Coaching Leadership: Focus on improving the competency and effectiveness of your coaches.

This approach offers a holistic solution, addressing each step collectively rather than individually, thereby enhancing the entire operation and its people.

As a practical example, we will delve into how AmplifAI's coaching effectiveness capabilities have been transformative in leading enterprises both direct and BPO contact centers.

Automate supervisors’ administrative tasks!   Many of the activities that keep supervisors and team leaders off the contact-center floor are prime candidates for automation

McKinsey & Company

Create standardized call center coaching system

1. Create a Standardized Call Center Coaching System

We start by building your coaching methods, tactics, and behaviors, into a standardized coaching form. From there, AmplifAI manages an automated, full-circle workflow that drives Coaching Effectiveness:

For Agents

  • Coachings post to an open commitment table, and a coaching history table – so Agents don’t lose sight of what they agreed to work on, and can reflect on prior coachings and results

For Supervisors

  • Coaching history stays with the Agent, regardless of switching teams or programs – so changes don’t mean ‘starting over’ every time, and prepping for the next session is as easy as revisiting the last session
  • Follow-Up & Recognition Tasks are automatically distributed to Supervisors depending on whether Agents improved or not post-coaching – so what’s asked of people to work on, is held accountable, but without manual tracking
  • Coaching Effectiveness scores and rankings show Supervisors the results of their coaching efforts – so they know who they helped to improve or not, and how that compares to their peers on the same program

For Leaders

  • Coaching activity and effectiveness visualizations highlight trends by program, site, and supervisor – so leaders can easily see who coached, how often, who got coached, metrics and behaviors coached most, and coaching effectiveness

Features of Data-Driven Coaching:

features of data driven call center coaching
consistent coaching workflow

 

call center coaching effectiveness scores measure agent performance
Coaching Effectiveness scores show whether people improve after coaching

 

call center coach can follow up and see where improvement required
Coach can follow up and recognize; Task Manager automates follow-through and more! 
call center coaching software comes with agent dashboard
Agent Dashboard: Performance by Metric, Current Coaching Commitments & Best Practices

 

call center coaches can track open coaching sessions

Coaching History

Call center coaching improvement is driven by tracking coaching progress.
Coaching Summary Dashboard shows coachings per Agent against frequency goal

2. Train Effective Call Center Coaches

Training effective call center coaches is simplified through best practices housed in AmplifAI and proactively pushed to Supervisors to help them increase their coaching competency. 

We’ve worked with some of the best and most innovative customer care organizations over the last two decades to build a set of simple but powerful coaching guides and tools that empower frontline supervisors to be better coaches and leaders.

We streamlined that content into a set of short, engaging Micro-learning videos that are ~5-minutes in length, single-skill specific, and incorporate video, animations, graphics, audio and captions, to deliver precise bits of learning that quickly build skill and spread best practices.

Call center coaching improves when you train your coaches.

Example: Inside Sales Micro-Learning; Behavior: Following The Inbound Script; Skill Set: Collecting Customer Information; Series: Effective Inbound Phone Calls

Our foundational Introduction to Performance Coaching Series includes six titles, and best of all – we are offering this series complimentary, to the first 100 organizations that sign up – so sign up today to secure your place in line!

call center coaching competency with AmplifAI micro-learnings
Micro-Learnings for Supervisor coaching competency

3. Transparency in Call Center Coaching Practices

Few organizations have scalable mechanisms across onsite and at home teams that give visibility into who coached, who got coached, metrics and behaviors coached, and whether performance improved or not.

AmplifAI provides all that visibility and more, in dedicated views for each level of user, displaying individual, team, site and program level trends on coaching activities and results.

Visibility into coaching activities allows you to:

  • Understand coaching trends
  • Inspect your coaching processes
  • Recognize or reinforce expectations
  • Identify outlier and top performing coaches
  • Know which coaches needs development to be better coaches
Provide visibility into call center coaching performance and coaching results

Coaching Export showing behaviors and sub-behaviors coached, by manager, with effectiveness 

4. Establish Metrics for Measuring Call Center Coaching Success

Even fewer organizations have any insight into which coaches are actually helping people improve, and which are not.

AmplifAI supercharges Coaching Effectiveness, with:

  • A continuous algorithm that calculates coaching effectiveness for every Supervisor
  • Effectivity scores based on how often Supervisors’ coachings helped people improve
  • Stack-rankings that display scores across peer Supervisors on the same program
  • Dashboards that display coaching activities and coaching effectiveness scores at the individual, team, site, and program levels

Having visibility into coaching effectiveness is absolutely essential to evolving your operations to one of higher engagement, elevated experience, and improved performance – because you can’t improve what you can’t see!

Measure the return on your call center coaching activities.

5. Improve Your Call Center Coaching Leadership

The foremost strategy for elevating engagement and performance throughout your enterprise, given a well-established procedural infrastructure, is to enhance the coaching competency and effectiveness of your coaching leaders. This step is pivotal in the overall coaching process, assuming a critical role in your operational success.

Recognizing the importance of this, we emphasize the necessity of assessing your coaches' performance and effectiveness. If your organization does not currently have a system for this, integrating such a process is a key feature we offer in your AmplifAI implementation.

AmplifAI facilitates this assessment through:

  • A customized 'Coach-the-Coach' form embedded within the system for comprehensive evaluation.
  • The capability to record coaching sessions using accessible devices like tablets or laptops.
  • The utilization of automated actions driven by insights from coaching performance assessments.

These tools and processes are designed to continuously develop the skills of your coaches, ensuring they're equipped to foster a culture of development and improvement within your call center.

AmplifAI Your Call Center Coaches

AmplifAI transforms frontline leaders coaching effectiveness score by liberating them from the cumbersome tasks of manual data analysis, interpretation, and distribution. This results in up to 40% more time available for coaching and developing personnel, significantly enhancing operational efficiency.

  • With Agents having direct access to performance, coaching commitments and coaching history, they’re empowered to self-identify gaps and take independent action even before supervisors’ coach them – resulting in increased employee engagement and accountability!
  • The embedded coaching form and workflow ensures coaches are consistently applying your methods, that you have consolidated documentation, and the ability to easily inspect process.
  • The post-coaching workflow and progress-tracking ensures everyone has visibility into coaching commitments, history and results.
  • The continuously updating Coaching Effectiveness Score and ranking keeps supervisors informed of the impacts of their developmental efforts.
  • Coaching dashboards highlight for leaders which coaches need coaching skill development!

Take The Call Center Coaching Effectiveness Assessment

Not sure where your frontline leaders and supervisors currently stand in their coaching effectiveness?

Explore our extensive library of coaching effectiveness guides, starting with our Coaching Effectiveness Assessment, designed to deliver a clear picture of your team's coaching strengths and areas for improvement. Stop guessing and start enabling your leadership team's coaching effectiveness today.

take the call center coaching effectiveness assessment from Amplifai

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Benefit
Result
💯
Improved Performance & Customer Experience
Month over month gains in Issue Resolution,
FCR and NPS;
Month over month reductions in Handle times,
ACW and Hold
👥
Winning additional client headcount
30% improvement in sales conversion
💪
Retaining talented people
8-point reduction in turnover
💰
Improving financial performance
10% increase in utilization

Summary

The future of success in your contact center is contingent on how you impact performance in ways that are both immediate and sustainable. And it doesn’t matter whether your agents are on-site, at-home, full-time, part-time, or temporary – you must deliver on performance.

Coaching is one of the most significant tools we can use to deliver on the engagement and performance of our people – but we must develop our processes, our people and leadership skills, and our technology tools, in order to overthrow the pervasive challenges to achieving greater coaching effectiveness and supercharging contact center performance!

Unlock the potential of your employees and skyrocket your ROI with cutting-edge coaching.

call center coaching cta@0.5x

Connect with the authors:

Melissa Pollock Customer Success at AmplifAI

Jim Rembach President at CX Media

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Melissa Pollock

Melissa Pollock

V.P. Client Success | AmplifAI
AmplifAI on LinkedIntwitter x

Melissa Pollock is the VP of Client Success at AmplifAI. She brings over 20 years of expertise in contact center performance management. Renowned for her knowledge in behavioral science and performance management, Melissa is instrumental in enhancing call center metrics, improving operational efficiency, and driving revenue growth for organizations big and small. Her strategies effectively boost team performance, agent retention, and overall quality and compliance in the world's largest contact centers.

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