Everyone recognizes the importance of training to the development of an effective contact center workforce. Without it, customer service levels suffer – and so does your contact center’s performance. But what about one-on-one, in-person coaching? How important is coaching to contact center performance?
In order to get the best results from a coaching program, certain factors must be taken into consideration. The coaches themselves need to have been trained in the most effective methods for coaching, or the entire exercise can end up being nothing more than a waste of time. With that in mind, here are the top eight coaching tips for contact center managers.
- First, coach the coach. Anyone who will be acting as coach needs to receive appropriate training beforehand – but training often isn’t enough. The best way for a potential coach to prepare for his new task is to actually practice coaching, ideally with someone who is himself an experienced coach.
- During coaching sessions, stay focused. Any distractions detract from the purpose of a coaching session. It’s important to remain focused not only on the task at hand, but even on every detail of your conversation, in order for meaningful progress to be made.
- Timing is everything. The sooner after a coaching session that the lessons learned can be applied, the better. Retention will increase if a real-world opportunity for practice is available.
- Question and listen. Rather than telling an employee what they should be doing in order to grow, it can be more beneficial to let them discover it on their own, by asking a series of questions, listening carefully to their answers, and then guiding them to develop goals themselves.
- Give neutral feedback. The word feedback often has a negative connotation. Make sure that the feedback a coach gives is neutral instead – rather than talking about what an employee is doing wrong, try stating what needs to be done. The lack of negativity will help the employee internalize the feedback without defensiveness.
- Create an environment of trust. If an employee feels he cannot trust his coach to work for his best interests, and to keep sessions confidential, he will not take his coaching sessions seriously.
- Develop a culture of learning and coaching. It can be hard to implement a new training program into a call center that does not have an atmosphere that assigns value to learning and growing.
- Try peer coaching. Train employees on the basics of peer coaching, and then let them help each other from time to time! Who understands better than a coworker the exact pressures each employee is facing? Just be careful to hold employees accountable by having them write a report or summary, so that they are sure to stay on task during the coaching session.
By putting these eight tips into practice, your contact center’s coaching sessions can become truly valuable elements of your training program. And if you need help implementing a training or coaching program for your contact center workforce, contact KOVA for more information on our Enterprise Workforce Optimization Solutions.