Call Center Coaching

The Comprehensive Guide to Maximizing Agent Performance

1. Coaching Effectiveness

Realizing ROI from your coaching time investment

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Call Center Coaching Effectiveness: 5 Steps To (Finally!) Realizing A Return On Coaching

Coaching Effectiveness Hero Graphic_1@0.75x

By Melissa Pollock and Jim Rembach

Introduction

What’s the #1 challenge in Call Center Coaching?   Well, assuming frontline supervisors are coaching with a consistent frequency, then the #1 challenge is Coaching Effectiveness!   If you’re concerned about coaching impact and ROI, then you must master these 5 Steps to Coaching Effectiveness!

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?  Many of us coach repeatedly, and yet our people continue to be plagued by the same performance problems.  Do you know why?  We’re going to show you.

But before we share the secrets to circumventing the persistent cycle of ineffective performance coaching, it’s important to understand how and why contact centers continue to struggle!

The most pervasive challenges to effective performance coaching fall within the well-known framework for successful transformation of anything – people, process and technology.  We’re going to focus on the procedural, and people-related, challenges to coaching effectiveness, sharing what we’ve experienced in contact centers everywhere, then we’ll discuss how one piece of technology is augmenting both processes and people to unleash incredible new levels of coaching consistency and effectiveness!

Procedural Challenges

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
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Take The Assessment

The Coaching Effectiveness Assessment

20 Questions that will show you if your coaches are effectively developing performance!

To evaluate your supervisor coaching, select one of the following answers for each question: Opportunity +0  | Acceptable +2  |  Strength +5 .  Add up all 20 answers. The higher the score, the more effective your coaches.

Coaching Skills

  1. Coach was prepared? Data/prior commitments/progress/observed performance
  2. Coach warmly connected? Verbally and body language
  3. Coach praised/appreciated first and genuinely. Words + facial agreement + detail/examples

Forbes

Are You A Good Coach? Here's How To Find Out!

There is a widespread phenomenon among people that causes them to believe they are above average in most areas. If you asked 100 people if they are great drivers 95% will tell you they are, but traffic accident reports beg to differ. It is simply impossible for the majority of people to be exceptionally good at a particular behavior. In my line of work, this attitude is particularly prevalent in workplace coaching.  If you ask 100 managers if they are good coaches the number may be slightly lower than 95%, but not by much.  Managers assume that if they are good managers, being a good coach will naturally follow.

2. Coaching Relationships

Building Trust that Drives Desire  

Intro

Coaching is about being a trusted guide, helping people identify opportunities, and then work towards self-discovery and self-resolution – but in a way that inspires in them the desire to change.  So, the question then is, how do we build trust in ways that preserve willingness so our people want to change behavior?   It’s in how we talk to our team members!  “Our inputs affect their outputs! “

There are two primary scenarios in which our style of communication affects team members’ willingness to continue listening, and trying, what we ask of them.

  1. First, delivering balanced feedback ensures we’re expressing appreciation for something positive – whether for a person’s effort, progress or strengths.  No one feels very good about themselves, or is motivated to do better, if all they ever hear is how they failed or what they need to fix!   Even the most positive people eventually feel defeated if coaching conversations are purely corrective!  
  2. Secondly, using direct but sensitive dialog when discussing corrective opportunities ensures we say things in a way that makes them easier to hear, therefore preserving willingness to consider and act on our input, rather than feeling defensive and shutting down!

For Example:

  • If I said, ‘You didn’t care when the customer said they’d lost their sister’, you may feel attacked and then react with a defensive or argumentative response.
  • If instead I said this, you would likely be more receptive to talking about how to improve: ‘When the customer said they lost their sister, it didn’t come across like there was empathy because even though you said, “I’m sorry for your loss”,  it sounded hurried, was relatively flat, and then you immediately asked for their phone number’.

ICMI Top Article of 2018!

Trust-Destructors: Top 5 Ways To Ruin Engagement With Your Coaching Practices

One of the greatest ways we build trust with employees is through review and discussion of their work performance.  Our fairness, honesty, courage and advocacy during coaching contributes to our credibility, which affects employees' engagement, performance, and retention.  It's hard to be direct and courageous when it comes to discussing peoples' work behaviors though, and there are several ways we can fail at it miserably!  

Trust-Destructor #5 - Inconsistent or Absent Performance Feedback

As humans, we like and trust people who like and trust us, so we miss a really easy trust-generating opportunity when we're not consistently having developmental discussions.  We naturally connect when talking with employees about strengths and challenges, and without that interpersonal exchange, or if too infrequent, we're saying through our actions that relationships and performance don't matter.

Sometimes coaching doesn't happen because leads or supervisors aren't skilled enough to navigate development discussions, which can lead to avoidance behaviors like procrastination or cancellation.  Other times coaching gets missed because of staffing levels and call volume.  And in many cases, coaching activities are obscured by lack of visibility into whether it's being done or not – how frequently, by and for whom, and on what topics.  In all of these instances though, coaching is an 'optional' activity, which sends an unfortunate message to team members about the importance we place on spending time with them and discussing their contributions. McKinsey & Company noted years ago that front-line managers at best practice companies were spending 60-70% of their time on the floor, much of it in individual coaching.

Trust-Destructor #4 - Not Providing Historical Reference for Commitments, History and Progress...

DDI | The Talent Management Expert

Be Better Than Average

A study on the state of frontline leadership

If one word could describe the job of being a frontline leader today, it would be “harder.” Growing demands for greater productivity, more innovation, and doing more with less, have made leading at the frontline as challenging—or even more challenging—as ever.

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3. Coaching Technology

Tools that Empower Action & Drive Efficiency, Consistency

AmplifAI.

Accelerating Coaching Effectiveness for the Modern Contact Center!

AmplifAI uses your customer experience, quality, sales and any other employee specific KPI data to identify front-line employee's performance challenges and opportunities, and recommends proactive actions to drive learning, coaching, and productivity improvements.

Our Performance Acceleration platform integrates with your systems and:

  • Visualizes agent performance trends and gaps
  • Captures top performer best practices
  • Drives digital learning to supervisors (for coaching resources) and to agents (for DIY learning)
  • Recommends best practices to user-specific dashboards based on business's KPI priority
  • Documents, records (.mp3) and tracks coaching session performance impact.
  • Calculates coaching effectiveness scores for every supervisor!
  • Accelerates employee engagement, CX and sales! 

Webinar

Supercharge Agent Performance

What is covered!

  • How to engage and empower Agents to take independent action on their performance?
  • How to get Supervisors to focus in on the right team members, and the right opportunity, at the right time?
  • How to deliver Agents bite-sized, personalized training, when they need it and on what they need?
  • How to identify which Supervisors are effective coaches, and which are not?

Preview: Coaching Effectiveness

Preview: How AmplifAI Supercharges Performance

Description

Regardless of strategies or personnel, you’re still struggling to get frontline agents to show-up, buy-in, step-up, improve performance, and stay.

The future of your success in contact centers and 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.  

Over the last 20 years in Contact Centers, BPOs and direct, there’s been outstanding performers that have been able to consistently outperform all others. Now is the time for you to learn what they know and to avoid the mistakes they’ve already made.

What is your unifying factor across people, processes, and technology?  Data!  Data can illuminate performance trends and opportunities, drive actions and tools, and boost activities and effectiveness. But we all have data, so how do you harness and then operationalize data to unlock new levels of engagement and performance in people. Watch the full webinar and see how!


4. Coaching Cheat Sheets

‘How to’ Best practices in a nutshell!

So, you want to be a better performance coach?

Becoming a better performance coach starts with knowing this: Why do we coach?

To help our people, to drive performance, to teach procedures, yes, all true. But even more literally and fundamentally, we coach so our people know what to repeat, and what to change.

  • What to repeat: Humans generally seek to please and crave praise, so when you recognize team members’ effort, progress, or success, you reinforce what you appreciate and enjoy about their contributions – which makes most people want to do more of those things in order to get more of your recognition! That’s leveraging the simple theory of positive reinforcement, or as I call it, “What we reinforce, they repeat!”
  • What to change: There is a simple formula for understanding what people need in order to change behavior – Willingness + Know-how = Action. Coaching helps develop a person’s know-how, but how we coach affects a person’s willingness.

Once you know WHY you’re coaching, you can get into the HOW of it, which starts with observing work performance, followed by identifying the effective and ineffective behaviors you observed, followed by asking thought-provoking questions that allow people to think, and resolve for themselves.

If you’re doing all the talking and you’re telling people what to do and how to do it, then you’re not coaching, you’re directing!

Here are a handful of tools you can use to supplement your growth as a powerful performance coach!

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