What is Call Center Coaching? 10 tips for better results
A call center’s success largely depends on the ability and professionalism of its agents. Call center agents represent your company to the outside world, and are responsible for conducting the vast majority of person-to-person interactions the public has with your business.
It’s important, then, that your agents are well-trained and have all the tools and methods necessary to perform their work at the highest possible level.
Call center coaching is an excellent strategy to employ when training call center agents. But what is it, exactly? Let’s get into the details.
What is call center coaching?
Call center coaching is an activity carried out by call center managers meant to improve the performance of their agents. The agenda for these sessions varies greatly from call center to call center and agent to agent, but is usually built around areas that have been targeted by managers for improvement. Managers may decide to have one long session that covers many topics, or several sessions dedicated to a single topic; there is no single “correct” way to do it.
Coaching sessions differ from performance reviews in that the purpose of the activity is not so much to evaluate agents’ performance but rather to take practical steps to improve performance however possible. There typically isn’t any grading done at the end of coaching sessions. There can be, in some cases, space for agents to offer feedback on coaching sessions, however. The feedback process is, of course, an integral part of what makes call center coaching truly effective in the long run. You can start monitoring computer activities to track the effects of your training and create detailed, objective coaching feedback.
So, what can you hope to accomplish by implementing a call center coaching protocol at your call center?
In short, better performing agents. When you pay attention to your agents’ performance, identify those areas that would benefit from improvement, and carry out call center coaches sessions, you end up with a more efficient call center team that is more capable of meeting and exceeding its goals.
Call center coaching doesn’t come without challenges, though. Below we’ll get into some of the common problems associated with call center coaching.
Challenges of call center coaching
Getting started with call center coaching can sometimes be an uphill battle. Oftentimes, agents aren’t very enthusiastic about having their performance watched and evaluated closely, even if it is within the context of making overall improvements to the team. Some of your call center agents may believe that they perform their work perfectly and don’t have any problem areas eligible for improvement via coaching sessions. Getting all of your agents on board with the plan can be one of the toughest aspects of implementing a call center coaching regimen.
Keeping all of your agents motivated and focused throughout the training sessions can be a challenge as well. The best way to approach this issue is, of course, to design engaging coaching session lesson plans that will capture and hold your agents’ attention.
Some call center coaching programs fail, despite the best efforts of call center managers. When this happens, it’s usually because interest in the sessions waned over time, or agents didn’t feel as though they were getting enough value out of the coaching to keep participating.
While you can’t safeguard yourself from every challenge that may arise when embarking on a call center coaching initiative, there’s plenty you can do to set yourself up for success. Below we’ll cover 10 tips and tricks to improve agent performance via call center coaching.
10 tips to improve agents’ performance
#1 Put time into planning your call center coaching curriculum: approaching the design of your call center coaching curriculum in a serious manner is the best way to guarantee success in the long run. Coaching sessions should be organized, well-thought-out and engaging.
#2 Pick the best topics for coaching sessions by smartly analyzing your agents’ performance and seeing where they need the most help: Powerful analytical call center tools like CloudTalk are specifically designed to help track and evaluate the performance of call center agents. Using a tool like CloudTalk will help you identify the areas your agents need the most help with, so you can plan coaching sessions that will give them a real boost.
#3 Have agents take notes on the coaching sessions: Having a written record of what was talked about during a call coaching session is an effective way to ensure important information and lessons are retained for use on the job.
#4 Keep your coaching sessions short and sweet: Including straightforward and easy-to-understand tips for improvement in your coaching sessions will keep agents interested and eager to learn more during subsequent lessons.
#5 Host coaching sessions at regular times that fit easily into agents’ work schedules:Nobody likes it when something like a coaching session disrupts their regular workflow. That’s why it’s important to canvas your staff before the sessions are scheduled to start and find an acceptable time for the sessions together.
#6 Don’t dwell on a single topic for too long: Mixing things up every once in a while is a great way to keep things interesting. Try not to string several sessions together that are about the same topic, it can get stale rather quickly.
#7 Check-in with agents during sessions to make sure they’re following along and understand the material: This tip is taken right out of the regular old teacher’s playbook. When you’re standing in front of a group of people giving a lecture, there’s a pretty high chance some of those in attendance are drifting off, not really taking in what you’re telling them. The best way to combat this is to periodically ask random members of the audience for their thoughts on what you’ve been saying.
#8 Have great software at your disposal when executing call center coaching sessions: Call center software can be a powerful tool in call center coaching. An all-in-one communication suite like CloudTalk, for example, can help in the demonstration of proper call center agent methods and behaviours.
#9 Summarize and reinforce key takeaways at the end of coaching sessions: It’s extremely beneficial for your audience if you take some time out at the end of your coaching session to summarize and reinforce the most important points you’ve made during the session.
#10 Periodically ask for feedback from agents about coaching sessions: Feedback is a crucial aspect of any coaching session program. You can ask agents what they liked and didn’t like about your coaching during feedback sessions, which can help you improve in future lessons.
Outdated methods of call center coaching
Back in the old days, call center coaching sessions used to revolve around criticism. Managers would practically line agents up and tell them what they’ve done wrong and what they should do to fix it.
While this kind of direct approach might work for some, call centers found that it was ineffective overall. Embarrassment as a form of discipline and in the pursuit of improvement may work for school children, but call center agents are grown adults who don’t appreciate being reprimanded in such a public way.
Newer methods of call center coaching emphasize giving both positive feedback and constructive criticism to agents. Special care is given to supporting any criticism with data. For instance, if an agent is struggling with the pacing of calls on their shifts, managers should cite their Average Handle Time as compared to the other agents on the team. This way, the criticism will feel justified to the agent and the manager can move onto the important work of improving their agent’s performance.
How CloudTalk can improve Coaching Effectiveness
CloudTalk is a powerful all-in-one communications platform, built for just the kinds of things managers need when developing and executing a call center coaching program. Whether it’s the 70+ features or the many easy integrations with today’s top CRM, Helpdesk and analytical softwares, CloudTalk is the software for you if you’re setting out on your new call center coaching journey. Try a 14-day free trial today!