The Top 5 Procedural Coaching Challenges

Melissa Pollock

Skill gaps are growing – because of the continued digital evolution and increasing necessity for contact center Agents to apply deeper relationship-building, multi-tasking, and problem-solving skills.  

In a McKinsey survey of more than 50 senior customer-care executives, 94 percent said that they expected the skill demands placed on their contact center agents to increase over the next five years.

Despite the need for a higher-level of customer-handling proficiency, frontline leaders remain challenged with effectively developing Agents’ skills, in real-time. The best mechanism for achieving real-time improvement is coaching, but there are several procedural challenges that prevent coaches from being more effective, thereby stagnating and even damaging employee and customer experiences.

Top 5 Procedural Challenges with Performance Coaching:

1. Methods

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

2. Expectations 

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)

3. Logistics

Many 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)

4. Visibility

Most enterprises haven’t begun to source solutions so Agents can have direct access to performance data:  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)

5. Tracking

Rarely do contact center leaders have a way to quantify who was coached, on what, or whether it was effective: (Which makes it impossible to hold Supervisors accountable, or to grow their coaching competency) What must be made accessible:

  • Who did the coaching?
  • Who received the coaching?
  • What were they coached on?
  • What did they agree to do as a result of the coaching?
  • When is the coach going to follow-up?
  • Did the Agent improve after the coaching? 
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The best mechanism for achieving real-time improvement is EFFECTIVE coaching.  But effective coaching is achieved only through a formula consisting of procedural infrastructure – so everyone can consistently operate within known parameters – and people leadership skills, which helps build a culture of development, as opposed to one of compliance. 

procedural infrastructure + interpersonal leadership graphic@2x

People Skills Challenges

And that leads us into discussion of the second major challenge preventing us from delivering effective contact center coaching – the top interpersonal or Top People Skills Challenges!

The 5 Steps to Finally Realizing A Return On Coaching

Procedural Challenges is the first part of Melissa Pollock's Call Center Coaching Effectiveness: 5 Steps To (Finally!) Realizing A Return On Coaching.

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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


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!

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Connect with the authors:

Melissa Pollock Customer Success at AmplifAI

Jim Rembach President at CX Media

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