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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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