Sometimes coaches become a little like Santa Claus. Keeping the list. Checking it twice. Knowing who has been “naughty or nice” with the customers. Checking the coaching off as “done” and waiting for the next coaching time.
But, unlike Santa, our coaches need to find ways to not only document skills on a list but also help agents change those poor skills and behaviors to good ones. The challenge is to encourage behavior and skills changes without relying just on the promise of monetary “gifts” for improvements made.
I’m not saying that we should avoid monetary rewards for skills improvements altogether. What I do recommend is that you discuss in coaching sessions how their improvements will bring a variety of benefits for them. Here are a few ideas for your next coaching session discussions:
- Our attitude improvements can make work more enjoyable. I doubt that all of our agents consciously want to start their workday with a bad attitude, but some end up doing just that. This attitude affects their day and those they interact with. Your coaching can help them address the attitude “triggers” they encounter that make them angry, upset or depressed. Help them see that their job is never going to be 100% stress free but their goal is to learn ways to bounce back from negative situations and move forward with a positive attitude. Learning how to keep positive during these challenging times is key and their positive attitude will be make the day flow better for them!
- Better customer interactions result in more positive feedback for agents. Both observations and customer feedback tell us that an agent who is great with customers will receive more positives during their calls, emails and chats. Making sure that they see that their customer experience efforts, even with the most challenging customers, often result in compliments and shows of appreciation during these interactions. Help agents to see that the positive feedback they will receive from customers is an added bonus.
- Coworkers are easier to work with when you use soft skills with them too. The same skills our agents use in dealing with customers such as good listening, asking the right questions, being empathetic and showing appreciation are the workplace skills that will make other people want to work on their team. Agents who communicate with coworkers in positive ways will see results such as having more cooperation and less friction on the job. When we coach, we need to share examples of how these customer skills can be applied in the center workplace and with other departments to the benefit of everyone.
- Great skills and positive behaviors can lead to new job opportunities and promotions. For your coached agents to believe in the benefits of skills improvements for promotion opportunities, your center has to practice what you are preaching. Some centers forget that promotions should be based not just on length of time on the job, but also the best skills and behaviors consistently demonstrated. This sends a bad message to other agents you are coaching with who are trying to improve until they see “Chris” moved to a leadership role and know from working with him that he hasn’t been a good agent, just a survivor with job longevity.
- Learning skills that will help in life outside of work. Several years ago I coached with an agent who was challenged by poor written and verbal skills. Linda asked for help and some self-study material to improve. I loved her initiative and recommended some books and online tools to supplement the center coaching she was receiving.
I met with Linda again in a few months and was amazed by her transformation in such a short time. Her calls were more professional and polite sounding. She took the time to speak clearly and her emails were showing improvements in grammar. I congratulated her on her improvements but what really impressed me is how she had transferred the skills improvements benefits to her home.
Linda told me that her children had been using many of her previous poor word choices and slang. She was worried about how this was affecting their schoolwork. One of the children asked her why she was “talking differently” now. Linda explained that her goal was to improve and get a promotion to a better job and she knew that she had to speak well and write well to be successful.
The kids asked her to show them her books and teach them some of the new words and soon all of them were studying and learning together after dinner each night. She was thrilled to have inspired them to learn and improve and could see a positive difference in their schoolwork.
We need to coach our agents on the long-term benefits of having positive, professional and winning skills that result in more opportunities than just a gift card quickly spent and forgotten. A new year is fast approaching and we have the chance to help them be successful on the job and beyond.