20 call centre coaching tips

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To achieve a culture of regular coaching being the way we work around here, here are 20 tips to help you in your busy call centre environment:

  1. Have a policy of shutting down email from 10am for all coaches, that way you can swarm over your people and conduct side by side coaching, which is what you should be doing.
  2. Be clear on the coaching that will work for individual agents. You can use learning styles. For example, activist agents will respond well to side by side coaching as they are more than likely to come out with quick actions and responses. Pragmatists will like this too. Reflector agents will cringe with the rapidity of the side by side so will prefer the pre-recorded playback sessions in privacy so they can think through how they can improve. Theorist types will also like this, but will want to have access to the calls beforehand. You could get them to choose their best and perceived worst one to analyse, otherwise ensure you use intelligent software to choose the calls for you. Don’t spend time trawling through the whole lot, use technology to help you here.
  3. Rather than just one agent listening to their pre-recorded calls, encourage a small group to listen to them and all to add comments and share best practice. Allow each agent to complete your best practice checklist as they listen to the calls. Then you facilitate an empowering session.
  4. Have a “Caught you doing something great” emblem to plant on the desktop. One client of mine bought “Wow” lollypops – the large versions – and gave one to an agent when they did something wow.
  5. Have a lucky dip bin for great performances. Inside the bin will be booby prizes as well or ones requiring a forfeit.
  6. When doing side by side coaching, keep the feedback sharpish and precise. Use the session to work on a theme or encourage your agent to suggest a theme before the session starts.
  7. Feedback is mostly needed with side by side coaching. Don’t do too much of the “How would you do that differently?”, you can leave that for your recorded call coachings.
  8. Get a routine going with your agents. Allow them to expect lots of coaching from you. Alternate it with side by side coaching followed a few days later with some recorded coaching, some engagement Q&A type coaching and then back to some side by side. Get a routine going.
  9. Skills development is a fine outcome of coaching but use your side by side coaching to get an appreciation of the non-skill based performance inhibitors. Try to understand the real challenges they’re under, that’ll build empathy.
  10. In your recorded call coaching sessions, allow your agent to run the call best practice checklist themselves on their actual call before giving you feedback.
  11. If you’re dealing with a low performer, attempt to pick more than a couple of calls to analyse and coach on, the more the better.
  12. After every coaching session you must have the magical three outcomes. WHY is the acronym – what, how and you. Your agent should know what they need to do, how they can get there and what you and the business can do to support them. If they don’t know these, then you’ll have to spend time GROW-ing them.
  13. Use the GROW model by all means, but be aware that it was never designed for a call centre environment. It was originally designed for tennis players and athletes to help them achieve their goals. A tip is to start the GROW model at R = reality, by providing feedback or self-discovered feedback on performance. That way your agent is aware of their current performance where a goal can evolve to improve it.
  14. Always, always, always do coaching after any form of assessment. Even if it’s billed as a Q&A type observation, empower these people to do a little bit of coaching afterwards. Never leave observation and assessment in isolation otherwise it’ll get a “police” type reputation.
  15. Ask agents what kind of coaching and development they would like. The type, the duration, how else can you support their skills and development. Naturally your coaching outcomes must be beneficial for the agents otherwise they just might say “none please”.
  16. Have best practice meetings for 5 minutes each morning and evening to share best practices and great performances. Stand up and let different agents run them for you.
  17. Get your call recording software to burn calls onto a CD or SD Card, as many as will fit on, and get in the habit of listening to these on your way home or whilst in the gym. The habit of listening to lots of calls will help you to determine how your agents are doing and what ways they can improve.
  18. Have your call best practice checklist which contains the process plus all the soft areas needed to perform a great call. Also have your playbook which holds every technique, strategy and method which brings the call to life. Like a best practice bible. This would need to be added to continually from observations and agents’ new ideas.
  19. Have a No PC day once a week so you get to surge over your agents all day.
  20. Have a balanced scorecard approach for your metrics and measures. Learn to distinguish between lead and lag. Lead measures are those that’ll help you judge how the agent is doing and get in some coaching to improve things. Lag measures are after the event, and although coaching may help, the event has happened. A Balanced Scorecard approach could use 4 measures
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About Author

Paul Archer is the founder and Managing Director of Archer Training Ltd, a specialist training provider that brings practical sales and coaching skills to financial services firms. Paul has published 8 books and is a regular blogger and YouTuber - www.paularcher.tv and can be contacted at paul@paularcher.com.

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