Call Center Coaching: A Must for Every Company
Being a leader in any market means that a company will gain trust and be considered an authority figure in the eyes of potential customers. Leading companies enjoy a higher market share percentage, better revenue, stronger pricing power and many other benefits. All of these success metrics are tied to the workforce.
When it comes to choosing a workforce, recruiting campaigns focus on identifying important traits, skills or abilities in individuals. Even if a call center can find an entire workforce of people who meet the qualifications, the agents still need training and continual coaching to be successful. Call center coaching is a critical element of continuing education in the workplace.
What Is Call Center Coaching?
Call center coaching is an interactive process between the coach and agents. Depending on the size and structure of the call center, the coach may be a manager, a team leader, the business owner or someone who is hired specifically to coach people. However, the process of call center coaching is the same regardless of who does it.
When it comes to the coach, the process involves as much listening as speaking. Call Coaches who do not listen as much are not effective since they measure the success of their coaching through listening to what agents say as well as watching what they do. If agents repeat important aspects of training and demonstrate that they know how to use the training, coaches can better gauge their own effectiveness.
There are several reasons to use call center coaching aside from initial training for new hires. Continuing education ensures that agents remember what they were trained to do and demonstrate it. Without continuing education, agents can develop bad habits that evolve into entire sets of destructive habits. They may deviate from scripts, develop poorer phone etiquette or do something else that could ultimately hurt the company’s bottom line.
Call center coaching is also useful for teaching agents about new programs, technologies or initiatives. Additionally, call center coaching is used to work on personal improvement on a one-on-one basis.
The most critical thing for coaches to remember is that the process must not only be about teaching but also about encouragement. When they encourage agents, the agents gain the confidence that is necessary to maximize success.
Why Is Call Center Coaching Important?
Call center coaching is one of the most underappreciated tools for success. Many companies use quarterly or even weekly performance reviews instead. While performance reviews are useful and especially in short intervals for promptly addressing critical weaknesses, they only provide agents with information. Telling an agent to change or improve something may not be enough and is a passive solution.
Think of call center coaching as an active solution. Call Coaching is proactive and is a good way to ensure that necessary weaknesses are improved. When agents are coached as necessary to improve or to learn new things, they are more effective sellers and are happier in their jobs. These are the top benefits of call center coaching:
- Happier customers
- High-quality product or service support
- Effective change management
- Confident agents
- Improved agent performance
- Higher agent retention rate
- Collaborative and supportive workforce
- Stronger team drive for goal achievement
Who Should Be a Coach?
Coaches also need training to be effective. As mentioned before, they must be good listeners and must know how to weave encouragement into every aspect of the coaching process.
Most call centers train managers to provide constructive criticism by praising an agent for a strength before pointing out a weakness. This is good. However, it is even better to point out multiple strengths and one weakness to make the agent feel that he or she has more positive skills than areas for improvement.
Call centers that want to promote healthy competition within the workplace and foster personal growth can make coach positions a reward. For example, if an agent stays with the company for a year and meets all sales goals, that individual could qualify for a coach position with a modest raise. Building multiple teams with coaches is a good structural idea.
One issue with any call center coaching program is that coaches cannot sit beside workers continually to monitor each person’s work. Although coaching from a person at necessary or regular intervals is helpful, agents need constant support to be as effective as possible. One way to protect the company’s bottom line while achieving this goal is to use a software program.
Programs such as Balto use artificial intelligence to detect what people say. Balto’s call center coaching feature provides prompts and even alerts if a person deviates from a script. It also gives users replies to provide in real time based on objections or questions. Also, the program has many other comprehensive benefits for call center managers and agents.
An A.I. program as a supplemental call center coaching solution is an excellent choice. It is a modest investment that is far less expensive than paying multiple people to coach agents every hour. Since constant coaching maximizes success, this is a two-sided financial win for any call center.
Effective Call Center Coaching Tips
To succeed in call center coaching, every company needs to follow a set of best practices. Each company should develop its own personalized set of rules and best practices for call center coaching that relate to its vision, mission statement and company culture. These tips will help any company develop a stronger call center coaching plan.
Incorporate Individual Reflection
While it may be easy for managers to identify strengths and weaknesses in agents, they should first ask the agents to identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Managers can compare these with their own observations. Employees have an easier time accepting constructive criticism and call center coaching when they understand and recognize their own weaknesses.
Make Personalized and Actionable Plans
Part of the call center coaching program should be the use of an A.I. program since most people will accept corrections from technology easier than they will from another person.
While the program will help agents continually improve and will cut down on future problems, managers should build personalized plans that show agents how to change behaviors or issues in addition to using an A.I. program. This is where one-on-one coaching through demonstration and observation is powerful.
Let Customer Feedback Provide Coaching Guidance
Most companies now use customer surveys as a way to measure the traits, abilities and knowledge of agents. If customer surveys show a trend such as an agent not listening well enough or asking questions that are perceived as rude, the manager has a verifiable way to address critical issues.
Also, playing back conversations with unhappy customers can show agents how they sound, and they may see ways to help themselves improve. This is another area where A.I. software is useful for call center coaching. It provides prompts and alerts when people deviate or ask unnecessary questions.
Make a Collaborative Action Plan
Most agents do not appreciate being told what to do. If they have a choice of what to do, they are likely to be happier with the option that they choose. This gives call center managers a chance to compromise while still letting workers know that change is necessary.
If an agent has a weakness that needs to change, the call center manager should let the individual know but should offer to build a collaborative plan. The manager should ask the agent how he or she thinks the needed change will occur. Both sides can provide input and work together to make a collaborative plan that the agent will be more likely to follow.
Provide Employees With Data
Rep’s data should remain confidential. However, it helps to compare their performance metrics with other top performers without mentioning specific names. This gives reps a better idea of how much room they have to improve.
The same idea applies for their achievements. Be sure to provide more data about achievements if possible. If an agent performs significantly higher than others in one area, this should be highlighted and praised.
Use Role Playing
When one-on-one call center coaching is necessary, set up scenarios. The manager serves as the customer, and the agent demonstrates improved knowledge or skills. This provides some practice and is a more proactive solution than just handing the individual a list of suggestions.
The first step to building a call center coaching plan is to invest in an A.I. software program such as Balto. Managers should familiarize themselves with the features and should build their in-person coaching plans around those program features while keeping the company’s culture, vision and mission in mind.
Interested in learning more? Request your Balto Demo!
Originally published Apr 18, 2019 9:15 pm