Call Center Coaching: 5 More Tips to Ensure Success

by Peggy Carlaw

Our pre­vi­ous post on call cen­ter coach­ing titled, “Call Cen­ter Coach­ing: 5 Tips to Ensure Your Suc­cess,” gave tips to help you improve your man­age­ment style in a sup­port or call cen­ter environment.

We’re pleased to present the next 5 essen­tial skills that will help improve your coach­ing ability.

  1. Spend some time each day prais­ing your agents. Tak­ing time to give feed­back is an essen­tial skill of man­ag­ing. Offer­ing praise and con­struc­tive feedback—and know­ing when and how—will help your agents improve—often dramatically.

When you praise your employ­ees, gen­uinely and on a reg­u­lar basis, you help val­i­date their work and demon­strate your sup­port. Call cen­ter envi­ron­ments can be harsh—especially if you have an abun­dance of upset or dif­fi­cult cus­tomers—so it’s your job as a call cen­ter coach to ensure your agents feel supported.

When you find ways to praise your agents, you’ll notice that they’ll be more recep­tive to your con­struc­tive feed­back. Think of giv­ing praise as a foun­da­tion of sorts—by build­ing a base and giv­ing your agents con­fi­dence, you’ll then be able to refine their skills through con­struc­tive feedback.

You may find it help­ful to develop a reminder sys­tem to ensure you give praise every day. For exam­ple, cre­ate an alpha­bet­i­cal form of all of your agents and high­light each name that you’ve given praise to that week. Repeat on a weekly basis. Or, select an aspect of a team’s work that they’ve done well and send the group a col­lec­tive e-mail con­grat­u­lat­ing them on a job well done.

They’ll appre­ci­ate the sentiment.

  1. Be obser­vant and present. One of the best ways to build sol­i­dar­ity and show sup­port is to be in the trenches, so to speak, with your agents. Spend time each day on the call floor and observ­ing how your agents work. Take note of items that need to be addressed before a more seri­ous prob­lem emerges. Inter­act with your agents and give them praise and feed­back as you make your rounds.

You don’t want your team to feel uneasy or as though you’re “spy­ing” on them, so make sure you com­mu­ni­cate that you’re there to sup­port, not crit­i­cize or micro­man­age them.

  1. Get to know your team mem­bers. One of the best ways to build rap­port with your agents is to inter­act with them on a daily basis. It’s great to be on the floor, observ­ing and work­ing along­side your agents, as we dis­cussed in point 3, but take it a step far­ther by interacting—meaningfully.

When you get to know your agents on a per­sonal level, you set a tone of open com­mu­ni­ca­tion and dia­logue. Your agents will feel more com­fort­able approach­ing you with issues, and you’ll find it’s eas­ier to solve prob­lems once you under­stand the unique per­son­al­ity of each agent.

Inter­act­ing with your agents fre­quently doesn’t mean you need to need to take them out for beer or invite them over to din­ner, but it does require you take time to learn their back­grounds, pre­vi­ous accom­plish­ments, and interests.

  1. Get feed­back. In the world of call cen­ters, you reg­u­larly work with all sorts of feed­back, such as CSAT scores, res­o­lu­tion rates, and other call cen­ter met­rics, to name a few. Met­rics are essen­tial to run­ning a cen­ter efficiently—no doubt about it—but it’s also equally impor­tant to under­stand what’s going on with your agents that may be influ­enc­ing your met­rics. This is where agent feed­back comes in. As a call cen­ter coach, how often do you solicit feed­back from your agents on how you’re doing, what cus­tomer issues they’re deal­ing with, or whether they have sug­ges­tions for change?

How you ask for feed­back will vary based on the topic, but send­ing out ques­tions via email, cre­at­ing a sug­ges­tion box, or ask­ing directly are all great meth­ods. When you solicit feed­back from your team, make sure you ask open-ended ques­tions (so you’re not get­ting “yes” and “no” responses) and be sure to thank your agents for their input. Need a sur­vey to deter­mine your employ­ees' views of the work­place? Down­load one here.

  1.  Empower your team. Our final call cen­ter coach­ing tip to add to your arse­nal is empowerment.

Empow­er­ing your agents means that you demon­strate respect and equip each employee with a sense of respon­si­bil­ity. You’ll find that empow­ered agents will take more own­er­ship in their work, have increased moti­va­tion, and look for ways to improve at their job.
Every call cen­ter envi­ron­ment is dif­fer­ent, and the level of auton­omy allowed varies based on expe­ri­ence, but you can make your agents feel empow­ered by fol­low­ing these tips:

  • Communicate to your agents that they are professionals.
  • Del­e­gate appro­pri­ate por­tions of your job (with super­vi­sion) to help empower and spread the responsibility.
  • Allow your agents to take some risks.
  • Give your agents respon­si­bil­ity to make deci­sions that affect their work—don’t hand­i­cap them by mak­ing all of the deci­sions for them.
  • Ask agents how they would do some­thing instead of sim­ply telling them what to do—first get their input and ask them to think the prob­lem through.
  • Teach agents what you know.

Effec­tive call cen­ter coach­ing can improve your call cen­ter met­rics, cre­ate engaged employ­ees, reduce turnover, and help your oper­a­tion be more cost effec­tive. Most of all, devel­op­ing and refin­ing your man­age­r­ial skills will result in a team that works for you, not against you, which is a win-win for all involved.

Posted on April 20, 2012

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