A call center serves as the customers’ first interaction with a company. Thus, call center agents must be given the proper training to handle the job.
However, many companies simply leave it at that, and agents are left to operate like machines until they inevitably experience burnout and quit. A meaningful way to manage them would be to coach them effectively.
What is call center coaching?
Coaching is a vital practice if you aim to have your call center agents operating at a peak level.
Call center coaching is key to improving agent performance and increasing overall customer satisfaction. Providing specific and straightforward feedback and mentoring can inspire your agents to perform at their highest potential.
In a call center, a team leader or a more experienced co-worker may serve as a coach. Explaining “why” and “how” are essential in coaching. When agents understand why and how they are to improve, they are more likely to progress.
Benefits of call center coaching plan
It’s tempting to just go through the motions of standard employee training and leave the agents be afterward. But call center coaching calls for more meaningful involvement, especially in this age of hybrid working.
An optimal call center coaching plan should be continuous, ongoing, and cover a wide range of aspects.
If done right, it will result in a deeper skillset, important work feedback, and the ability to fix potential problems in customer interaction.
More importantly, a well-put call center coaching plan has the following advantages:
Increased agent retention
Call centers, in particular, have a higher average voluntary turnover rate compared to other industries. Well-coached agents are likely to stay in your company due to the skills gained from their coaching, allowing them the opportunity for career advancement or promotion.
Increased employee engagement
A meaningful coaching plan will show your employees that you value them not just as employees but also as individuals. By making them feel truly included in your company, they have more of a reason to engage. This then leads to higher productivity.
This can go both ways. Employees should also be encouraged to freely approach their coaches and give feedback on their coaching program.
Increasing the level of engagement among your employees produces better communication, resulting in better performance.
Enhanced agent efficiency
If an agent is put to work right away, there is an extremely high chance for blunders. It’s only to be expected, especially if they are new to the industry or the type of work being asked of them.
Coach them well, and see them reduce the time it takes to resolve problems such as customer queries. This is a better use of time when serving the customer and leaves the agents more time to reach out to more leads.
Improved brand reputation
Odds are you don’t want your company to be seen as low-ranking and unrefined. Higher customer satisfaction leads to higher revenue for the company. Consistently good service also better advocates your organization to more prospective customers.
Improved agent wellbeing
A call center agent’s job is believed to be one of the most demanding and stressful jobs out there. Mistakes in their work stemming from improper training will add to their feeling of burnout.
Better performance in their roles will contribute to satisfaction on the part of your call center agents. A mentally healthy agent is one who ends up working the best.
10 effective call center coaching techniques
Here are 10 useful tips to remember as you coach your call center agents:
1. Promise confidentiality
An employee’s work output can be very personal. Remember to have your call center coaching sessions in private spaces to avoid embarrassing your agents. If you are coaching one-on-one, your employee trusts you to correct their weaknesses without broadcasting them to the rest of the workplace.
If coaching a group, make sure to avoid specifically identifying people. Focus more on the area of improvement. Doing otherwise may create unwanted division in your team or an unstable environment.
This will allow your agents to be comfortable in your relationship and therefore be more open to hearing your feedback and teaching.
2. Set a regular schedule
Effective call center coaching is a continuous method and may even persist until departure from the company. Set a regular schedule for each agent to comprehensively discuss their progress.
During sessions, make sure your time is utilized effectively and strategically. A blueprint for coaching sessions can be made to ensure you stick to the objective. Observe the agents throughout the period between coaching sessions and bring up their conduct then.
3. Use new technologies
There are multiple technologies available now to make communication in the workplace much more effective. For call center agents especially, new tools allow them to better leverage their technical knowledge.
Aside from the well-worn email method, you can also make use of online video conferencing to hold your coaching. Experiment with different apps with your agents to help them improve skills such as time management.
Be sure also to monitor their performance over different channels, like voice or non-voice.
4. Tie performance to data
It’s hard to argue with hard data. At times, even the most stubborn employee may relent to your coaching if they see specific data on their performance. Doing so allows them to better see the actual magnitude of their issues.
5. Alternate positive and negative feedback
It’s easy to get distracted by the mistakes your agents make and only focus on criticizing them during coaching sessions. But this does not make for a holistic call center coaching plan. Employees are more likely to be inspired to perform better if they are also presented with examples of their good performance.
A good practice is to begin the coaching session with a review of the areas in which they have improved before discussing the areas they need to work on. It starts off the meeting encouragingly, and your agent will be more willing to listen afterward.
6. Role play situations
Role-playing is a highly effective call center coaching tip. It allows you to see how your agent solves problems and reacts to specific situations. From there, it will be easy to point out where your employee can act better to optimize their work.
7. Highlight points with examples and stories
When discussing issues, provide agents with specific examples to support your feedback. Call recordings are an invaluable resource for this. Point out key periods during the call that you like to highlight.
To be more comprehensive, consider putting together a knowledge base where agents can search for answers. This can be a good resource for future call center coaching plan improvements.
8. Set goals
Have a specific purpose when coaching. Personalize plans to individual employees if it will help them improve better. There is no truly uniform way of coaching, but you want to make sure that your employees perform up to standard.
During coaching, work with your agents to identify realistic goals that they can work towards. By doing so, you establish a plan for a future achievement, which can empower them to do well.
9. Track progress
Tracking your agents’ action plans. Setting benchmarks when discussing the plan will not only make them perceive their work easier but also enable them to practice proper time management.
Keep an eye on their checklist as they work through the day. Measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) is also an effective way to visually track progress.
When the call center agent can see how far they’ve come and how far they can go, it can spur them to continue in the journey.
Be open to listening to your employee’s needs. They may be experiencing a problem that hinders their performance but are unable to communicate it to you. Make sure that there are always open channels for you to talk with your agents.
Including agents when brainstorming action plans for their improvement is also helpful. Do not simply dictate plans to them, but have them act as a partner to you in the goal of attaining better work.
To really get the most out of your investment, call center coaching is heavily recommended. By creating a meaningful mentorship with your agents, you open your company to better business and customer satisfaction.