Welcome to the follow-up to “Coaching Misses and Fixes.” Last time we looked at some of the coaching improvement opportunities. Here are some more ideas for your consideration:
Avoid talking about other agents and their skill problems
Your agents don’t really care how coworker “Mary” struggles with the same skill issue or that coworker “Joe” is a natural at giving empathy. They are merely being polite when they nod their head in agreement as you talk about them. Plus Mary and Joe may not appreciate you sharing their coaching information with a coworker.
Our agents want the discussion to be all about them and their own individual experiences. It’s one thing to get successful agents involved in mentoring with new hires or role-playing with each other, but we need to avoid sounding like we are comparing an agent to others during our sessions.
Emailing coaching and scoring in place of in-person coaching
Unfortunately some coaches and quality teams are sending out impersonal emails of coaching forms and feedback to agents as replacements for interactive coaching.
If your job is primarily coaching focused, why are you not taking the time to discuss skills one to one with each agent?
I recently spoke with an agent who is receiving this type of email feedback. He told me he no longer responds to those cut and dried QA emails and in fact barely looks at them. He was insulted by the impersonal tone and lack of interest he felt this showed.
There is nothing wrong with emailing forms after our coaching session but using emails as your only form of coaching is not engaging or positive for many agents.
QA does all the monitoring and coaching at our center
If your center is lucky enough to have dedicated Quality Reps who monitor calls, emails and chat interactions, management should never become complacent and removed from the coaching activities. We need to schedule our own times for monitoring and coaching with agents.
Our agents benefit by hearing feedback from both QA and management. And, we benefit by having the chance to engage with our agents while demonstrating that we really do know what it is like to be on those tough customer calls and fast paced chats.
Inconsistency in scoring and identifying skill needs
A VP once told me that there was no need to do monitoring calibration sessions with his supervisors and managers because “all of our leaders have been coaching for a long time and know what they are looking for.” I asked him to hold one calibration meeting to confirm this and as expected, the skill scoring and observations were not all consistent.
The VP was surprised at the difference in some of the scores and started scheduling a regular calibration session with his leadership team every 2 months.
We need to make sure that not only the scoring is accurate but also that our coaching approaches are positive and consistently focused on the right goals.
Active coaching promised but not delivered
Your follow-up after a coaching session needs to be scheduled on a timely basis, and include specific skill related activities for you and your agents to do together. Both of you should have the coaching activities on your calendars.
There’s nothing worse than promising an agent your coaching help and then not following through on that commitment. It’s easy for us to get caught up in fighting our daily center “fires” or getting called into that last minute meeting right before our coaching, but where does that leave an agent who needs the promised help?
If some emergency does require you to reschedule with the agent, make sure that you have your coaching activity planned with them within a day or two of your original timeframe. The longer you delay, the more the agent will feel that you aren’t interested in helping them succeed, and may question whether the skill improvement is really that important after all.
Coaches need their own coaching
Another area that may be overlooked is the opportunity to “coach the coaches.” This begins with us taking a look at our coaches emails and listening to them handling customer and internal calls to assess the skills they demonstrate.
Schedule time to discuss their soft skills and knowledge level with them. Ask them what they would like to improve and what they feel is working well.
Observe your leaders and quality team conducting coaching sessions and let them watch you coach too. These are both great opportunities for us to make sure that our coaches have the support and motivation they want and need.