Call Center Coaching: 5 Tips to Ensure Your Success


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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.

Peggy Carlaw
Peggy Carlaw is the founder of Impact Learning Systems. Impact helps companies develop and implement customer service strategies to improve the customer experience. Their consulting services and training programs help organizations create a customer-focused culture while producing measurable business results. Peggy is also the author of three books published by McGraw-Hill including Managing and Motivating Contact Center Employees.


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