Call Center Training Solutions

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Posts Tagged ‘improve your coaching’

Coaches Can Get Back on the Phones to Improve Their Coaching Effectiveness

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Sitting in my hotel room, I contemplate the day­s events and the management program I provided for a group of floor supervisors at an inbound call center.  In general, most were pretty good coaches and could demonstrate the coaching skills well enough.  The problem was that their sales skills were lacking.  They were not effective at responding to different sales and phone challenges I was giving them.  I cannot help but wonder.  How are they going to provide the right coaching to agents if their own selling skills are not up to par?  How will they be able to recognize whether the agent took the best action or not?  How will they be able to provide the best advice if they are not masters of the skills they are coaching?

If you are running into this same situation, you have two choices.  One will seem more painful than the other initially, but it will be far less painful in the long run.  The choice I am talking about is to get the supervisors on the phones for about thirty minutes each day until their personal sales skills get better.  Talk about building respect with your agents, too.  Agents always take and apply advice from supervisors they do respect.   My boss was willing to get on the phones and do my job, right next to me.  She rocks.

This is a timeless remedy for a common problem.  As supervisors­ sales skills die off, their recommendations become weak and even pointless.  Supervisors who have recently been on the phones stay current and their coaching is much more fruitful for everyone.

Watch the way your supervisors coach.  If their suggestions seem dated, it might be time to revisit the phones.  If their coaching is so general that they do not offer specific suggestions that agents can use on the very next call, this is also a good indicator that they may not have the right stuff to offer agents. 

As a general rule, we recommend that supervisors get on the phones and practice thirty minutes per day, three times each week until you feel they have become just as effective as the better agents.  Once they do this, their coaching will become significantly better and their agent­s results will improve quickly.

What was the other choice, if your coaches and their coaching have become stale and outdated?  The only other real choice is to continue on ± same old, same old – and watch your center fall into decay.  No one wants that.  Other attempts at improving performance will almost always fail when sups are not stellar.  Therefore, the only real option in this situation is to improve your supervisors­ analysis and judgment ± which means getting them back on the phones until their personal selling (or servicing) skills are much better.

Improve Your Coaching by Asking ¬What Do You Think?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

In our Call Center Floor Management workshop, we define two major types of coaches; Direct and Interactive.  This tip is for the Direct coaches.  Direct coaches tend to do most of the talking during coaching.  While this style can net great sales results, a better approach is to involve the agent.  Interactive discussions, those that get the agent to speak more, will net even better results.  We see amazing results with this strategy when strong, Directive coaches soften up just enough to get the agent involved.  They never lose their authority because Directive coaches will always have that air about them.  But they will start developing better, more effective agents.

A simple way to get started in this new, discussion-oriented world, is to start when an agent asks you a question or solicits any type of help from you.  If you believe the agent is capable of answering the question, STOP.  Do not answer the question for them.  Instead, thank them for the question, maybe acknowledge the question­s importance, and then probe.   Let me ask you, what do you think you might try in this situation?   What do you think the solution is?   What are some steps you can take to handle this customer if it happens again in the future?

By Probing for the solution instead of providing it directly, two great results will occur.  First, your agents will become more self-analytical.  They will improve their independent thought and their problem-solving skills, making them more independent thinkers.  Second, you will have more time away from all the questions.  Everybody wins.  It merely takes the coach­s willingness to ask, rather than tell.

Your agents may not be ready for this type of probing at first and may even respond,  I don­t know.  That­s why I asked you.  With a little reframing of the question (supportively – no intimidation)  they will give it a try.  When they get the right answer, give them a big praise and thank you.  The next time they run into trouble, they will be much more prepared.  All you had to do was not answer their question to accomplish this.  Now that was easy.