Coaching call center agents can be a challenging task for supervisors and team leaders, especially when the goal of the conversation is to address errors. Call center leaders must be good in dealing with such situation, since pointing out mistakes could lead to agents feeling demoralized. A simple change in tone or volume can be taken as a hint of aggression. The last thing you want to happen is see underperforming agents quit their jobs because of your poor coaching techniques.
There are many strategies that you can use to effectively highlight errors and come up with the right solutions when coaching your agents. Here are some tips that can help you maintain a positive and collaborative interaction when coaching agents.
1. Make it timely
Issues concerning agent performance must be addressed as soon as they are identified. This sends the message to your agents that you’re monitoring them closely and that you want them to become better at what they do. This also prevents the same mistake from happening again. Correcting mistakes shortly after they are committed encourages agents to be extra careful. Neglected agent errors can lead to negative effects on your overall customer service quality.
2. Specify the problem
Providing call center coaching means identifying what exactly went wrong and informing the agents about the consequences of their mistakes. Don’t attempt to be less harsh by giving generic or vague comments because it will only make your coaching session useless. You must also specify the goals or metrics that your call center agents failed to meet. Go straight to the point, and avoid sandwiching negative comments with compliment.
3. Focus on the issue
The goal of your coaching session must be to discuss the “what” and not the “who” of the problem. Don’t take things personally by unearthing your agents’ previously resolved mistakes. Focus on the current issue, and be objective about identifying its root causes. When doing a one-on-one coaching, avoid dragging other people into the conversation by setting other agents’ mistakes as examples. This will create a sense of mistrust and will prevent the agents from fully disclosing things that could affect their performance.
4. Agree on solutions
Your coaching session wouldn’t be complete if you don’t work with your agents in coming up with an action plan that would correct the current problem or prevent it from happening again. This part has to be collaborative, which means that agents must be asked to give their opinions and proposed solutions without being criticized. You may also suggest some tips, and ask the agents which ones they think will work best for them.
Spending time to discuss the things that cause your agents to underperform is one of the proven ways to refine their skills. Coaching doesn’t only help you have better agents, it also strengthens the relationship you share with them. With effective coaching, you can establish a positive call center environment where all members help one another in solving problems.