As a contact center manager, coaching your agents is one of the best ways to improve your call center’s performance and your most important responsibility. This involves providing feedback and support that helps agents improve their performance and meet goals.
But what makes for an effective contact center agent coaching session?
In this article, we explore some of the best ways to approach a coaching session—and share some tips on leading an effective coaching session for your contact center agents.
Steps to Handle an Effective How to Lead an Effective Contact Center Agent Coaching Session
Hold a Coaching Session in Private
One of the best things you can do for your agents is to have private, one-on-one coaching sessions. Such sessions are a great way to help them improve their performance and reach their goals.
You should remember the following things when you’re having these types of contact center agent coaching sessions. First, you should ensure that the sessions are confidential- you and the employee should be the only ones in the room. This will allow the employee to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns.
Second, you should be clear about what you expect from the session. What are your goals for the meeting? What do you hope to achieve? Being clear about your expectations can help the employee focus and make the most of the time you have together.
Finally, you should have documents, records, and any other material that could improve the agent’s performance.
Balance areas for improvements with positive feedback
When reviewing an agent’s performance, it is important to focus twice as much on the positive than the negative feedback. This approach involves starting with a positive comment on performance, followed by some constructive criticism, and then rounded off with more positive feedback.
This will help to boost the agent’s morale and motivate them to improve their performance. It will also soften the negative effect of criticism.
Positive reinforcement is a critical component of coaching call center agents. When agents feel that their efforts are appreciated, they are more likely to repeat the good behavior and go even far beyond what is expected of them.
Connect the Performance With the Data
To ensure that the performance evaluation of an agent is accurate and meaningful, connect it with data. Data that will help you map out a comprehensive picture of their strengths and weaknesses and allow for a fair assessment.
There are various ways to collect data on employee performance. One of the most effective is to use an AI-powered call monitoring and agent performance management software.
However, today most call centers only use a handful of QA auditors to review customer calls and score those calls manually. Manual grading is an inefficient and unreliable process. For one, the agent’s grade depends on which QA analyst reviews the call. Secondly, the QA analyst can only review a tiny fraction of the agent interactions which is insufficient to get the full and actual picture of his performance.
In contrast, an AI-powered agent performance software will score 100% of an agent’s calls without the subjectivity of a human grader. These software are also called AI-driven quality assurance management software and among other things, will track agent performance, identify performance trends, and evaluate performance on actual conversation data with the utmost objectivity of a machine!
Bottom line, if you want to improve the accuracy and fairness of your performance evaluations, start by connecting them to measurable data by using AI-powered call monitoring software. Doing this makes evaluations fair and ensures the performance management process is as effective as possible.
Provide Concrete Examples When Giving an Evaluation
During a contact center agent coaching session, a coach must provide concrete examples of an agent’s recent behavior. This helps the employee identify areas of opportunity and develop an improvement plan.
Concrete examples of an employee’s behavior during a contact center agent coaching session may include the following:
- Skipping the customer identity verification step
- Not actively listening and understanding customer requests
- Long average handling time
- Failing to resolve a customer issue
- Hanging up on a rude customer
- Not communicating effectively
- Not following through on commitments
Reviewing specific examples of an agent’s actions can go a long way in addressing performance issues. Advanced call center conversational intelligence platforms allow you to automatically flag conversations for specific issues such as the ones mentioned above, and easily find those examples to review during your coaching sessions.
Use Role-play as a Coaching Tool
Role-play is a useful tool for coaching agents. It allows them to think through their actions and reactions. This can be especially helpful in situations where there is a lot of emotion or where the stakes are high.
Role-playing can help agents learn how to handle clients effectively, their feelings, and their reactions in difficult situations. It can also help them learn to think more clearly and logically.
However, if you’re considering role-playing in a coaching session, you should keep a few things in mind.
First, explain the goal of the role-playing activity. Some people may feel uncomfortable acting out a scenario, so it’s important to get the agent to see the purpose of the activity.
Second, be sure to choose a scenario that is relevant to the employee’s current situation. This will help them see the value of role-playing and understand how it can help.
Ask the Agent to Assess Their Performance or Actions
Asking an employee to reflect on their actions and behavior can be an important part of a contact center agent coaching session. This process can help them see the impact of their actions and how their behavior might be affecting their work and relationships with others.
Reflection can be a difficult process, but it can encourage the employee to ask questions about themselves. These could include:
- What was my behavior in this situation?
- What were the consequences of my actions?
- What could I have done differently?
Allowing the employee to reflect on their actions can help them to learn and grow from their experiences and produce long-term positive effects for the business.
Collaborate With the Agent to Create a Plan For Improvement
A coach works with an employee to identify areas of development and create a plan for improving performance. The action plan should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). It should also be aligned with the company’s goals and objectives.
When they collaborate and work together to improve the agent’s performance, it creates a bond between the agent and manager and molds them into a better team.
The coach and employee should meet regularly to review progress and adjust the plan as needed. The coaching relationship should be supportive and empowering, with the ultimate goal of helping the employee reach their full potential.
Set Up a Follow-up Discussion With the Agent
Before ending a contact center agent coaching session, it is important to set up a follow-up discussion. It holds the agent accountable for the action plan. This discussion should be scheduled before the due date of the action plan. The coach can then check in on the employee’s progress on that day.
When a coach does this, it seals the employee’s commitment to their action plan. It also ensures that the agent stays on track and progresses toward their goals.
Coaching is a process that helps employees improve their performance and identify areas of opportunity for the employee to excel in.
A coach may also provide guidance, feedback, and support to employees as they work to improve their skills and abilities. If you want to build a strong team of agents, coaching sessions are some of the most powerful and effective tools for improvement.