Tag Archives: Coaching

Coaching is The #1 job.

Coaching is The #1 job.

In contact centers where managers embraced the concept of positive coaching, morale is at a all time high, contact center agents are more engaged and show more enthusiasm and are more likely to succeed on their day to day tasks. Work becomes a great experience for your staff, you can literally feel the positive energy “crackling” in the air.

But if coaching sessions are negative or virtually non-existent, team morale will plummet and agents will become disconnected, absent minded and bored. This will result in lower quality of service as well as higher attrition rates.

Coach­ing is essential.

High productivity and decent bottom-line results are not impossible in an environment where morale is low, but it is highly unlikely. As a coach, you need to remember that if you provide a better working experience for your contact center agents, they will become more engaged and enthusiastic, and thus the customer experience will reflect that.

As a manager, you are responsible for your employees, you need to care for them – trust us, it’s the right thing to do. But if you believe that altruism has no place in the business world maybe those couple points will show you why coaching is so essential:

Positive coaching will lead to high morale among your contact center agents, thus providing these long term benefits:

  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Higher pro­duc­tiv­ity
  • Lower attrition rates
  • Higher cus­tomer satisfaction
  • Increased cus­tomer loyalty

Don’t fall into a trap.

Don’t ever make the assumption that the correct path to high morale is providing contact center agents with what they vocal majority of them want. Take a look back at your own career path and think back, what did you want as a “grunt” employee? Better pay, more “spare” time for non work related shenanigans and less work relates tasks – that sounds like the fastest path to minimalism.

If you want your employees to thrive, create a dynamic and positive environment, provide opportunities for self development. Continuous learning will lead to constant improvements on multiple levels – knowledge is power, especially in the dynamic world of multi-lingual contact centers.

Make it happen.

First and foremost, as the manager you need to embrace the idea that coaching is the #1 job you are responsible for. Then, cultivate and spread the idea of positive coaching among your staff – all of them, no exception. Open communication and active participations should be encouraged, make agents aware that despite not being decision makers their input is highly valued and everyone can make a difference. Make them a part of “The Grand Plan”.

Creating this kind of positive environment is no easy task, but it goes a long way.

…so don’t get discouraged.

Every company has some of those “just get by” people and nothing will change that, no matter what you as the manager do to inspire and motivate them. Morale of the whole contact center can be in danger, so when the time to act comes be firm. Issue out warnings to those contact center agents with attitude problems and if that doesn’t help it’s best to terminate “get by-ers” on the spot.

The long-lost Art of Coaching.

The long-lost Art of Coaching.

Suffering from poor agent performance and not reaching KPI targets is a common occurrence in the contact center industry. Most of the time managers facing those issues approach their staff and try to push them to work harder and be more efficient.

But as with all choices made under pressure this one isn’t the optimal solution. Team leaders and supervisors often think they are coaching their contact center agents, but in reality they are simply highlighting problems and ask to “magically improve performance”, without any effective coaching whatsoever.

Improving coaching skills should be a priority for each and every supervisor.

Support and challenge.

Remember, your staff is already frustrated and demotivated after not being able to hit the predicted targets.  Those relatively easy goals are becoming, more and more impossible – adding even more pressure from their managers could be fatal for your business.

Support and nurture your agents, especially when morale is down. Provide challenges and at the same time establish clear and reachable goals.

The “I want to…” not “I have to” approach.

Time should never be a reason for a poor coaching session, or a complete lack of one. This is your job as the manager – don’t ever label coaching as “wasted time”.

Remember to engage the coachee in such a way, that he or she will leave the session with a sense of involvement in the coaching process, help them identify the problem themselves – this will strengthen their desire to improve those skills.

Highlight the good and the bad, give your agents “contrast”. Encourage self development, it’s a great asset, especially in the outsourcing industry.

The coaching plan.

Prepare a solid coaching structure, one that addresses each potential issue, remember about proper questioning techniques. The plan is vital, it will bring constituency to you sessions and will bring back value to the art of coaching.

Just be sure to keep it simple, clear and involve agents as much as possible – interactive coaching is the best possible solution to performance issues.

The process.

  • Introduce; make it clear from the get go, what is expected from both parties involved and what should be the outcome.
  • Pinpoint;  the problematic area by listening to recorded calls, reviewing data entry quality or missed sales opportunities. Finding and reviewing particular problems alongside the agent will provide tremendous insight when you compare both sets of information.
  • Summarize;  make notes, ask simple open questions. Ask the agent, what they did well and what areas need to be improved upon? Let them explain “How” will they improve, offer some tips and exercises.

The outcome.

Through proper engagement during coaching sessions, you will create enormous value for that activity – no longer, will it be considered a mere “time sink” for agents and managers alike.

The feeling of self development is a tremendous morale booster, that will benefit your staff as a whole.

Your business will thrive, thanks to improvements in key areas such as; customer contacts, sales conversation, staff and customer retention.

This is why, The Art of Coaching is so valuable.

Custom built agent team!

Custom built agent team!

The dream agent of every manager is high-performing and engaged. Tough in reality it’s not the case, we’re able to see all ranges of performance from low, to average and finally high. Agents are doing the same job, but their performance varies so much simply because they’re all different people and we’re evaluating them with the same metrics. It’s natural that some will lag behind while others will excel above their peers.

Considering that everyone is different and has a plethora of experiences and expectations maybe the managers themselves should opt in for a unique personalized approach – recognize all these differences and accept them. Focus agent development and training around those, this will help tremendously with performance.

Personalize agents coaching sessions, adjust them to their needs and performance level.

In order to reach peak performance use these 5 steps.

1) Job description.
Everyone has a job description but most of the time those are ignored or even forgotten about completely. Someone once told me “My job description is like a fairy tale; In a filing cabinet far, far away”. Dust the job description off, it is the most common denominator of your agents. It’s the best starting point, in wont help you with performance issues but will let you learn what expectations your team has. Put that knowledge to good use.

2) Expectations.
Make sure all the agents in your call center are on the same page when it comes to performance expectations. The job description is a great starting point, but each team member can understand it in a totally different way and that is way their performance will vary. Communication is the basis of a effective team.

3) Diagnose performance.
Agents need consistent metrics and performance evaluation methods those wont substitute day-to-day coaching and performance management but will let you benchmark current performance and competency levels for each individual. You simply need to know what to tune up. Pick the best tool to gauge their abilities and be aware of potential risks involved with each method.

4) Create a plan.
After carefully analising each agent’s strengths and improvement opportunities, create a tune up plan. Create a custom made plan of action for each agent, do not generalize – make it relevant and specific for each person. The plan needs to be practical, be sure to include activities, online learning and company training. Whatever you plan for your agents make sure it all ties down directly to the evaluation.

5) Implement the plan.
Now the tune up begins. The plan itself is a great topic for discussion between agents and managers, it will fuel their thirst for knowledge. No more wasted trainings and resources. Your team is ready to reach it’s peak performance.

The cost associated with custom tune up is low while it provides great value.

Tune up your staff and see them soar.