By Judy McKee
Coaching really works. Executive coaches and life coaches are making a name for themselves, and there are numerous coaching businesses that offer support and help in guiding one’s career path and life. Many people are taking advantage of the benefits of a structured support system, a system that includes someone that will listen, support, and provide advice and guidance. Call center agents can benefit from this type of support system just as much as executives. With an active coaching program, you can make your call center more productive and profitable.
Executives are looking for a way to maintain a path for improvement and promotion. They are taking advantage of the availability of personal coaches. It seems reasonable that a call center agent would have the same intention. This is where call center coaching comes into play. We have all heard the saying “Take care of the small stuff and the big stuff takes care of itself.” Training and coaching your frontline call center employees is one way to have the “coaches” focus on the nuances, words, and phrases that can make a difference. This may look like small stuff, but it isn’t. Call center agents who are trained properly in product and techniques always make the “big stuff” like profit happen.
Training is the first step in developing the human capital of those call center agents. Coaching is built on the premise that a skill has already been learned and now needs to be increased or improved upon. Having a coaching program in place in every call center is vital. Each individual in your call center can continue to grow and develop with the support system provided by structured coaching.
Coaching must provide a platform for developing the talent of the employees you already have. Most people want to do a good job. Most people want to be noticed for the good work that they do regularly. Most contact with management, if there is no coaching system in place, takes place when the employee is noticed for negative behavior. Coaching, when it is approached as a way to acknowledge good work and encourage positive changes in behavior, can make the contact between agent and manager more productive and profitable.
Agents tend to be more productive when they are happy. Agents can raise the bottom line of any call center if they are safe to make positive behavioral changes. Instead of monitoring and providing constructive criticism, choose to coach and develop behavior that increases productivity and profitability. Focus positive energy on coaching and developing previously learned skills. You have spent time and money training your human capital; now use your time wisely and coach rather than give feedback.
A strong coaching system can keep your agents focused on the good things they do right every day. This creates the opportunity for your agents to feel good about themselves. It can keep the focus on constantly improving personal performance. Coaching for call center agents gives the agent the chance to be heard, to be listened to, and to be guided on the path for improvement and promotion. This is what’s working for executives with coaches, and this is what also will work for call center agents with coaches.
Positive coaching eliminates the stress on managers and agents typically associated with the perceived need for constructive criticism. It’s a proven method that gets results and maintains continuous performance improvement.
Eight Principles for Positive Coaching
- Create a Safe Environment
- Use Consultative Techniques
- Stay Positive All the Time
- Treat the Agent as an Adult
- Leave the Responsibility to Correct with Agents
- Create Learning Time Lines
- Use Questions to Obtain Results
- Develop a Plan for Performance Success
Judy McKee, of McKee Consulting, LLC, began twenty-five years ago as a call center trainer. About fifteen years ago, she added to her training classes a follow-up day of one-on-one coaching. She covers this important topic in her book, The Positive Coach Approach.
[From Connection Magazine – October 2010]