Call Center Coaching Effectiveness: 5 Steps to Maximize ROI
What’s the #1 Challenge in Maximizing Coaching ROI in Call Centers?
Assuming frontline supervisors are coaching with consistent frequency, the #1 challenge in maximizing coaching ROI in call centers is Coaching Effectiveness!
In your call center, how many times have you seen your frontline leaders coach over and over on the same things, but their people don’t seem to improve? Or, they improve for a short time, then revert?
In our experience, despite regular coaching, call center staff often face recurring performance issues.
Why is this the case? We're here to explain.
Before delving into the strategies to break the cycle of inefficient performance coaching, it's crucial to comprehend the reasons behind the ongoing struggles in contact centers.
The key challenges in effective performance coaching are deeply rooted in the universally acknowledged trifecta of transformation: people, process, and technology.
Our focus will be on the procedural and human aspects hindering coaching efficacy. We'll share insights gained from various call centers, and our own enterprise data ingestion tools, then explore how a specific technological solution is transforming both processes and people, leading to unprecedented levels of consistency and effectiveness in coaching.
5 Procedural Challenges Affecting Call Center Coaching Performance and Effectiveness
As we dive into the core of the issue, it's essential to recognize the five procedural challenges impacting call center coaching performance and effectiveness. One major concern is the widening skill gaps, intensified by the ongoing digital transformation. Contact center agents are now required to possess more advanced skills in relationship-building, multitasking, and problem-solving. A McKinsey survey involving over 50 senior customer-care executives revealed a significant insight: 94 percent anticipate the skill demands on their contact center agents to escalate in the next five years.
Despite the growing need for higher-level customer-handling proficiency, frontline leaders face considerable obstacles in effectively developing these skills in their agents, particularly in real-time scenarios.
Coaching stands as the most effective tool for real-time improvement.
However, numerous procedural challenges hinder coaching effectiveness, ultimately leading to stagnation and potential detriment to both employee and customer experiences.
Many contact centers neglect to define and communicate standardized methods for how to coach in the contact center (Which means frontline Supervisors each do their own thing, ultimately perpetuating inconsistency and Agent frustration).
What must be decided:
- Standardized coaching approach (One-call / one-case coaching or trended coaching)
- Standardized coaching model (Balanced, Grow, Oskar, Clear, Fuel, etc.)
- Training on the coaching approach, model and methods
- Instruction on where to document coaching, follow-ups, and outcomes
- How and when Agents see or are made aware of outcomes/results
- How and when to evaluate your coaches coaching effectiveness
Operations leaders often do not clearly communicate coaching expectations: (Which means every Supervisor does their own thing, which breeds inconsistency and increases in frustration)
What must be communicated:
- Importance of coaching as an engagement & development tool
- Desired quantity or frequency of coaching
- Which KPI’s to focus on (based on the business’s priority vs. each Supervisor)
- Which team-members to focus on (new, tenured, bottom performers, top performers)
Many call center operations are not directing frontline leaders where and when to coach: (Which means every Supervisor does their own thing… resulting in inconsistency and Agent frustration).
What must be communicated:
- Physical locations of where to coach
- Coaching using a pc/laptop, or just having conversation
- Days or times of day to coach (or to avoid coaching)
- How to initiate coaching sessions (Scheduling vs. not; rescheduling cancelled sessions)
Most enterprises haven’t begun to source performance enablement solutions so Agents can have direct access to performance data leverage against top performers:
What must be changed:
- Agents are dependent on Supervisors to tell them how they’re doing (which is often weekly and therefore too late for Agents to affect current performance, AND requires a mountain of manual aggregation and dozens of emails for Supervisors)
- Agents are also dependent on Supervisors to track coachings, follow-ups and recognize progress after coaching (which requires Supervisors to be master organizers, and makes it highly improbably that Agents will be held accountable for improvement)
- Agents have no visibility into history of learning, coaching and performance (which means we will likely coach issues repeatedly given the absence of trended intelligence)
The fifth procedural challenge in enhancing call center coaching effectiveness is lack of a robust tracking system.
Often, contact center leaders lack a concrete method to measure and understand the specifics of coaching sessions.
Essential details like; who was coached, what the focus of the coaching was, and coaching effectiveness, frequently go unrecorded.
This lack of data not only makes it challenging to hold supervisors accountable but also hampers the growth of their coaching skills.
To address this, a comprehensive tracking system should include key elements:
- Identification of the coach and the recipient of the coaching.
- Detailed insight into the subjects of coaching.
- Clarity on the agreed actions following the coaching session.
- A defined timeline for follow-up by the coach.
- An assessment of whether the agent showed improvement post-coaching.
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.
And that leads us into discussion of the second major challenge preventing us from delivering effective contact center coaching – interpersonal leadership, or ‘people’ skills!
The Impact of People Skills on Coaching Effectiveness and Performance
After procedural challenges, the second major component preventing more effective coaching is the level of frontline Supervisors’ interpersonal leadership skills.
According to DDI, the #1 reason Frontline Leaders fail is because of interpersonal skills. And, 80% of Agents who leave, do so because of their direct Supervisor.
Managing vs. Leading in Coaching: Essential Shifts for Improved Performance
In contact 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:
- Managing call center coaching is not leading performance
- Focusing on negative performance increases negative performance
- Coaches must be leaders
Let’s consider how each of these concepts can be prohibitive to delivering more effective coaching.
New Approaches to Coaching: Paving the Way for Top Agent Performance
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 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
The Domino Effect in Coaching: How Negative Performance Breeds More Negativity
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 contact 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
The Rising Importance of Leadership in Performance Coaching Effectiveness
Although distinctly different, “manager” and “leader” are often used interchangeably. But those responsible for managing the contact 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:
- 69% admitted the promotion of the wrong leaders resulted in loss of employee engagement
- Nearly 2/3rds experienced loss of productivity
- 1 in 4 respondents indicated their business suffered a loss in profitability
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 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!
A Better Way to Boost Coaching Performance and Effectiveness
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.
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!
The 5 Steps to Maximize Coaching ROI in Your Call Center
Having delved into the major procedural, process, and people-related challenges in maximizing coaching ROI, we now turn to actionable solutions. Let's explore how integrating technology can 'AmplifAI' the effectiveness of your coaching strategies.
We present five critical People, Process, and Technology Steps, each uniquely designed to enhance coaching effectiveness in your call center.
These steps are not just about refining traditional methods; they're about leveraging innovative technology to transform the way your team leaders coach, ensuring a significant impact on your overall coaching ROI.
- Establish a Clear Coaching System: Define and communicate the coaching expectations, procedures, and methods.
- Train Coaches in Communication and Development: Focus on leadership skills and the ability to follow through.
- Provide Visibility into Performance and Coaching: Keep track of coaching frequencies, behaviors, and action plans.
- Measure Coaching Effectiveness: Evaluate whether individuals improve following coaching sessions.
- Continuously Develop Coaches: Focus on improving the competency and effectiveness of your coaches.
While it’s essential for enterprise leaders to outline and communicate the procedural framework for consistency, the integration of innovative technological tools can streamline and support these steps.
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
1. Creating a Standardized System to Maximize Coaching Effectiveness
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:
- 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
- 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
- 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:
2. Training Your Coaches & Developing Coaching Effectiveness
Coaching best practices are housed in AmplifAI and are proactively pushed to Supervisors to help them increase 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.
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!
3. Ensuring Transparent Visibility into Call Center Performance and Coaching Tactics
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
Coaching Export showing behaviors and sub-behaviors coached, by manager, with effectiveness
4. Key Metrics to Gauge Coaching Performance and Effectiveness
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!
5. Coaching Your Coaches: Amplifai the Effectiveness of Your Coaching Leaders
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 crucial 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 not just evaluate but also to continuously enhance the skills of your coaches, ensuring that they are equipped to foster a culture of development and improvement within your call center.
AmplifAI Call Center Coaching Effectiveness
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!
The 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.
Improved Performance & Customer Experience
FCR and NPS;
Month over month reductions in Handle times,
ACW and Hold
Winning additional client headcount
Retaining talented people
Improving financial performance
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.
Connect with the authors:
Melissa Pollock Customer Success at AmplifAI