Stagnant customer satisfaction, waning employee experience, and disappointing performance improvements have long been a struggle for contact centers. To tackle these challenges, many call center teams turn to coaching.
But what do you do when coaching isn’t working?
As veteran contact center executives and experts in performance management, we’ve noticed trends between the companies that are struggling with coaching and the ones that are succeeding. These trends reveal ten reasons coaching might not be working at your BPO or direct contact center.
Find out why your contact center coaching might not be working.
The productive time of your agents is important to your organization. This makes it challenging to take your frontline associates away from their tasks. Agent availability is an inherent risk in call center operations due to the real-time nature of customer service.
That said, coaching can be efficient even in small doses.
While your contact center agents might not be able to dedicate hours to coaching each month, making the time for just one coaching session – when you know the specific behavior to coach them on – can make a significant impact on your bottom line.
It’s not just your call center frontline associates who are busy. The representatives who typically coach your agents, including your supervisors, team leads, and QA representatives, also struggle to find enough time to coach.
Many contact center frontline leaders are overtasked. They’re burdened with reporting, call escalations, performance management, and – more often than not – just too many direct reports. And when it comes to balancing their workload, coaching tends to be one of the first tasks to go.
See how you can assist your supervisors and team leads who are dealing with too many tasks and too little time. This might mean reallocating their daily task load or suggesting new time management methods.
For many contact centers, there is a lot of inconsistency in how to handle each coaching conversation.
Establishing one universal coaching structure for all frontline leaders to follow is essential. Every contact center supervisor will have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to coaching. But with a consistent coaching conversation model, it is easier to identify these successes and problem areas.
Establishing a common language and process for coaching is critical to give your employees, coaches, and leaders the visibility and insight they need to make your frontline agents successful.
Often we see call center coaching flop because the coaching process isn’t documented.
Good coaching has a lot of factors, including expectations, evaluation, methods, behaviors, follow-ups, timelines, frequency, and coaching effectiveness. Despite the complexity, many contact centers expect each team or individual coach to figure out their own process.
Creating a well-communicated and well-supported coaching process enables your team leaders and associates with the tools they need to succeed. It elevates coaching and shifts the coaching experience from being viewed as a disciplinary reaction to a constructive conversation.
So your company is coaching consistently but still not seeing high-quality results? It might be time to look at the competency level of your coaches.
The contact center world does a lot of internal promotion. And while it’s great to recognize your best employees, not every top performer is a great coach. Because of the nature of internal promotions, many of these newly promoted supervisors and team leads don’t receive much training on employee development and coaching.
Review your onboarding process for new frontline leaders – both external and internal hires alike. Ensure your onboarding includes just as much (if not more!) training on how to lead and develop people along with all the other required skills a new supervisor or manager might need.
Trust me – I love a good spreadsheet as much as the next person! But if your coaches are making plans based solely on KPI and metric outcomes without observing your agent’s actual performance, you might be missing some key correlating behaviors.
A coaching plan that only looks at the outcomes can come across more as reinforcing the requirements and less as encouraging employee growth.
Create a coaching plan that looks at the what (data) and the how (action). Instead of saying, “Decrease AHT by 11% to meet our goal,” create an actionable tactic such as, “Prepare internal customer data form before starting the call.”
While the workplace isn’t all fun and games, the most successful contact center coaches tend to talk with their associates about more than just KPIs. Part of being a great mentor is the ability to talk, ask questions, and – above all else – listen.
Interpersonal communication is one of the most overlooked skill sets of supervisors and team leads. The coach must know what is important to each of their associates and demonstrate a genuine interest in their agent’s well-being.
Why do contact center frontline leaders fail? 56% say lack of interpersonal skills!
Today’s employees expect more from their employers. They want to feel valued. If your coaches cannot establish a genuine human connection, there is little incentive for employees to invest much in return.
It’s human nature to focus on the bad over the good. So it’s no surprise that a lot of coaching concentrates on corrective feedback and challenges as opposed to the areas an agent is doing well.
But appreciation, recognition, and praise are crucial for a successful coaching program.
Few people know how to praise well. There’s a lot of information on delivering constructive criticism but significantly less on recognizing positive growth. If fear of job security is the only incentive to do well, there’s little to no motivation to strive to do more than the bare minimum.
Coaching isn’t a one-and-done job, but many treat it like it is. Even the best coaching session can fail without the right follow-through.
A supervisor who has a productive coaching conversation but then takes over a month to follow up – or never checks back in – makes it clear there isn’t any accountability for the agent to change.
Or worse yet, the frontline leader follows up, but they don’t acknowledge any of the agent’s positive progress and spend the entire session focusing on changes yet to be made. One coaching session might not fix the whole problem. Recognizing an agent’s strides to improve goes a long way toward getting them over the next hurdle.
You can enable your coaches with all the time, resources, and support they need, but sometimes that’s still not enough.
Few contact center leaders can name their best high-performer coaches. Even fewer can speak to the behaviors and practices that make them good coaches. And only a handful are observing their coaches in action and evaluating their coaching effectiveness.
So who’s coaching the coaches?
Coaching is a learned skill. Without knowledgeable training, reporting, and mentoring, even the most ambitious coaches can only go so far. It’s important to establish a method to track the effectiveness of each of your coaches. This can be a complicated task, but there are tools and software for contact center coaching to make this daunting task a lot more manageable.
Improving your contact center’s customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) is rarely straightforward and is never a one-size-fits-all approach. Establishing a call center coaching program that is efficient and productive takes time.
If you want help with the analysis, planning, or implementation of a successful contact center coaching program, we’d love to help.
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!
Melissa Pollock Customer Success at AmplifAI