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Call Center Coaching: 5 Tips to Ensure Your Success

By on Apr 13, 2012 No Comments

Man­ag­ing staff—in any form–is hard work and requires a well-stocked reper­toire of peo­ple skills, busi­ness acu­men, and the abil­ity to jug­gle mul­ti­ple projects and deal with pressure.

For those of you who man­age call cen­ters and sup­port cen­ters, you are tasked with watch­ing oper­a­tional costs in addi­tion to deal­ing with a team of agents. Your man­age­r­ial skills can mean the dif­fer­ence between an effec­tive call cen­ter or one that’s fail­ing. Good man­age­ment requires a heavy-dose of both intu­ition and tech­nique, and each cir­cum­stance requires a per­son­al­ized blend of skills. When prac­tic­ing call cen­ter coach­ing, there are a mix of meth­ods that we’ve seen work par­tic­u­larly well. Below we out­line 5 top call cen­ter coach­ing tips to add to your tool­box. We’ll tackle another 5 in the next post.

  1. Set spe­cific and mea­sur­able goals. The abil­ity to set tar­gets for you and your team to meet will give you focus and moti­va­tion. Choose goals that are real­is­tic. A quick test to see if yours pass muster? Ask:

What will be improved?

By how much or how many?

By when?

If you can’t spec­ify how you’ll mea­sure your goals, go back to the draw­ing board.

  1. Cre­ate action plans. Set­ting goals is one thing; imple­ment­ing them is another. Allow us to intro­duce you to the Action Plan.

For exam­ple, say you set a goal in Step 1 of com­plet­ing a coach­ing course so you can become cer­ti­fied in the Sup­port Staff Excel­lence pro­gram. That’s your goal—completion of the course. Your action plan will define how you reach your goal. Here’s how you might write that action plan:

“Set aside two hours every week on Mon­day and Wednes­day to go through the sup­port cen­ter coach­ing cur­ricu­lum. Next will be to pick three new skills from the course every week and apply it at work. Based on the study sched­ule, I’ll be ready to take the test by Octo­ber 15th.”

  1. Be pos­i­tive. Your lan­guage and tone matter.

Pos­i­tive think­ing has been cred­ited with every­thing from stress reduc­tion to bet­ter health. In a work envi­ron­ment, stay­ing pos­i­tive is just as pow­er­ful. So how do you apply the “power of the pos­i­tive” to your call cen­ter coach­ing? To start, exam­ine your lan­guage. Take these two examples:

“Unless you make those call­backs to the cus­tomers right away, there’s no way we’ll be able to give them the infor­ma­tion about the promotion.”

“We can still make this hap­pen. If you can make those call­backs to the cus­tomers within the next few hours, we’ll be able to get them the pro­mo­tional infor­ma­tion before it’s too late.”

If you were a call cen­ter agent, which phrase would you be more apt to respond to: the sen­tence with the neg­a­tive slant, or the sen­tence with the pos­i­tive? Which would you find more moti­vat­ing? Think about your lan­guage and all of the con­ver­sa­tions you have daily with your agents and fel­low man­agers. How often are you com­mu­ni­cat­ing using pos­i­tive lan­guage ver­sus neg­a­tive? Try this: Next time, before you ask an agent to do some­thing, or give feed­back, re-phrase your words so they’re pos­i­tive and see what type of reac­tion you receive.

  1. Lis­ten. Really lis­ten. Listening—effective listening—is a pow­er­ful skill that’s rarely used. Espe­cially in a high-stress envi­ron­ment, it’s easy to get caught-up in rapid-fire mode and neglect the very fun­da­men­tal coach­ing skill of hear­ing and under­stand­ing. How­ever, lis­ten­ing is an art form worth spend­ing some time per­fect­ing. It will help your man­age­r­ial abil­i­ties and pro­duc­tiv­ity, and will help you strengthen rela­tion­ships with your col­leagues (it’s also use­ful to try at home with your family!).

In call cen­ter coach­ing, try the fol­low­ing tips to improve your listening:

  • Focus: When someone’s speak­ing to you, don’t check e-mail or your phone. Look the per­son in the eyes and give them your full atten­tion. This com­mu­ni­cates respect and you’ll more fully absorb what they’re telling you.
  • Don’t inter­rupt: Do you enjoy being inter­rupted? Chances are, you find it annoy­ing. The per­son whom you’re talk­ing to finds it annoy­ing as well.
  • Pause before you respond: Often­times, when you take a moment to for­mu­late your thoughts before you respond, you wind up say­ing some­thing different—usually some­thing a bit more appro­pri­ate. The few extra sec­onds it takes to col­lect your thoughts before you respond will not dra­mat­i­cally impede every­thing else you need to cram in for the day.
  • Paraphrase—show you under­stand: Finally, to make sure you under­stand what the other per­son meant to say, repeat back the key points and ask the per­son to con­firm that’s what he or she really meant.
  1. Lighten up a bit. You may find it sur­pris­ing that one of the key tools in effec­tive call cen­ter coach­ing is humor. Why is it so impor­tant that it belongs in the “canon” of effec­tive coach­ing skills? Because humor is closely tied to atti­tude and your abil­ity to read a sit­u­a­tion. Be care­ful, of course, about when it’s appro­pri­ate to crack a joke or lighten the mood, and make sure you don’t offend or insult some­one at the expense of a few laughs.

Know­ing how and when to use humor will make you more approach­able, more like­able, and more human to the peo­ple you work with.

For more quick tips tips on call cen­ter coach­ing and improv­ing your man­age­r­ial skills, watch for our next post in the series, “Call Cen­ter Coach­ing: 5 More Tricks to Ensure Suc­cess.” And for a more com­pre­hen­sive look at call cen­ter man­age­ment skills, down­load our free, 8-page white paper, “Best Prac­tices for Improv­ing Call Cen­ter Super­vi­sory Skills.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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