Every contact center manager wants a team of agents that perform at optimum levels. The path to getting to that point, however, isn’t always easy. While building a strong group dynamic is important, managers must also nurture individual team members with helpful guidance and thoughtful coaching.
As many managers know, there’s an art to delivering constructive feedback to employees. When executed correctly, regular coaching sessions can inspire agents to elevate their performance to new heights. Conversely, when such evaluations are handled poorly, they can crush confidence, alienate team members and destroy trust.
That’s why it’s so important to be as considerate and thoughtful as possible with call center coaching. While every manager has his or her own unique communication style, it’s worthwhile to take note of some successful call center coaching strategies. Here are five different ways contact center managers can make sure they’re getting the most out of their agent coaching sessions.
Keep It Confidential
Nothing will wreck an agent’s trust in your management approach faster than openly criticizing him or her in the presence of other team members. When offering critical feedback to agents, managers should find a private space out of earshot of other employees. Call center coaching sessions that are handled one-on-one can demonstrate respect, help foster mutual understanding and build a solid relationship between managers and employees.
When presenting constructive criticism to an employee, numbers are extremely helpful. For instance, telling an agent that his or her overall quality score has dipped in the past few weeks doesn’t explain a whole lot. There’s a big difference between dropping three points and 40 points, after all, and it’s important to quantify that for an agent so they understand the true scope of the issue. Likewise, when an agent rebounds, you can offer up numbers to complement the praise.
Part of a manager’s job is to assess performances, but asking an agent to grade their own work can be one of the best call center coaching strategies. Getting an agent to self-evaluate — whether through the use of anecdotes from previous calls or reviewing call recordings — gives a contact center manager the chance to listen and gain a new perspective into the agent’s performance while also opening up a dialogue. From there, the manager can build on the discussed topics while highlighting other areas in need of improvement.
As we mentioned earlier, providing data to help illustrate a point can have a big impact on agent coaching. Oftentimes, however, data isn’t always available for a specific task. In these cases, vagueness is still not your friend. If there’s a point you’d like to make when coaching an agent, say it, but give as clear an example as possible. If your contact center records calls, find an exact interaction to illustrate your position and play it back for the agent. For instance, “You’ve been ad-libbing too much of your customer greeting. For instance, on March 22, you said…” That way the agent knows precisely what you’re talking about and can start working on correcting the behavior.
“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”! The same is true for agent coaching sessions. A manager should not solely focus on areas where an agent needs improvement. That’ll only lead to discouragement and resentment on behalf of the agent. Instead, you’ll need to counter critiques with positive feedback. That way the agent can feel good knowing he or she is performing well in certain areas while also recognizing there’s room for growth in other spots.
Being a manager isn’t typically an entry-level position. The best managers have spent lots of time working under others and gradually rose to the position through merit. Managers should think about the previous call center coaching they experienced as an agent and figure out what was and wasn’t helpful. In any case, taking time to self-reflect and consider how your call center coaching is resonating might be more vital than any adjustments one of your agents could make. Not only can it help keep your staff’s turnover rates down, but it also has the potential to raise the performances of everyone around you.