Micro-Coaching: A Growing Trend in Contact Centers


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Imagine meeting with your supervisor, and she brings up a performance issue you had several weeks ago. You can barely recall the interaction, but from what you remember, your supervisor doesn’t have the right context at all. Since you can’t quite get into the specifics, you simply nod your head while thinking to your supervisor doesn’t have your back.

These review meetings are almost always the same, and more often than not, the front line agent who is supposed to be benefiting from the discussions is watching the clock. If this sounds like your 1:1 meetings, the good news is that there is a growing trend that is vastly improving contact center performance and making agent-supervisor interactions much more productive.

The idea of micro-coaching has slowly but surely been catching on in contact centers big and small. The notion is simple and one that translates to any supervisor-employee relationship: employees receive specific feedback from their managers immediately following an action. In contact centers, this means that a supervisor relays positive reinforcement when an agent appropriately handles an interaction with a customer, or she or he is able to immediately jump in to course correct when an agent needs redirecting.

The appeal of micro-coaching makes sense. After all, anyone will respond better to an immediate example versus a hazy recollection of something that happened a while back. And the industry is seeing collective results. According to Gartner, effective coaching is the #1 driver of contact center representative performance. Moreover, popular brands like Harry’s, Brooklinen, and FabFitFun are successfully integrating micro-coaching into their day-to-day workflow and even saving on operational costs as a result.

Implementing a Successful Micro-Coaching Program

So micro-coaching is a growing trend that delivers results. But how does one implement an effective micro-coaching program? Supervisors don’t have time to listen into numerous calls across all their team members to obtain a representative sample. Nor could they deliver immediate feedback in a situation where so much of their time would be devoted to observing behaviors.

In order for a micro-coaching program to be successful, a contact center must employ a real-time feedback tool that ports customer perspectives into a digestible platform for managers to review. With this technology, managers actually reduce the amount of time spent listening to calls, gain more context when alerts are triggered, and as a result can offer more 1:1 coaching to agents who are routinely dinged, while offering praise to those who are leading the way.

Shaving down costs

When they implemented micro-coaching, the wildly popular shaving brand Harry’s not only experienced improved morale and overall agent performance, its contact center was also able to drive down operational costs.

Using technology platforms like Zendesk, Stella Connect, and MaestroQA, Harry’s first collects a bevy of customer feedback that is easily surfaced to agents and their supervisors. These automated, real-time data streams trigger alerts for supervisors to jump in and gather more intel (ex. listening to a recorded call for a specific agent), so then they can accurately determine whether an agent needs a performance boost or if the interaction was just an anomaly.

In instances where the agent made a mistake, the supervisor can not only address through an actionable 1:1 conversation, but also greenlight the service recovery team to proactively contact the customer and make it right. So, the agent is motivated to do better, the customer is pleased by the outcome, and the supervisor was able to make a swift decision. This impacts the bottom line through improved morale, increased productivity and retention of loyal customers.

Capturing the data and micro-coaching in real-time also helps supervisors spot trends. In fact, Harry’s was able to identify a password reset issue through their tech platforms. They notified their engineering team who resolved the issue and the contact center saw a decrease of 500 contacts per month while customer satisfaction scores went up. Micro-coaching enables these discoveries, as conversations with agents become more potent, thereby sourcing trends more efficiently.

Like Harry’s, all contact centers should look to micro-coaching to make contact center operations more smooth.

John Ernsberger
John Ernsberger co-founded StellaService with Jordy Leiser in 2010. John leads the company’s client success teams and is a passionate believer in the power of customer service as a driver of customer retention and sales. John graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in management.


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