Coaching for superior customer service is about improving effectiveness and meeting customer service goals. However, holding customer service supervisors or team leads responsible for coaching but not giving them the tools or time to meet coaching goals is a recipe for disaster. Planning is vital to making sure coaches aren’t simply going through a metrics checklist but are doing what it takes to help all staff members improve and fulfill their potential.
Get Background Information
Observe agents and conduct call monitoring to assess strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities for development. This background information is essential for guiding an initial conversation, as good coaching is about helping an agent set and meet own performance goals — not telling an agent what to do or how to improve. Coaching plans, which form the foundation of the performance development cycle, ensure that coaching activities support an employee’s development goals and are linked to department objectives.
Ask the Right Questions
Customer service coaching focuses on interactions, skills training, career counseling, feedback, and actions. Planning is a joint effort in which both the coach and coach work together to set goals and expectations, define responsibilities and create a written plan. In an initial meeting, ask thought-provoking, open-ended questions based that encourage an agent to discuss not only what she thinks and feels but — more importantly — why. For example, questions that start with “what concerns you the most about,” “what is your desired outcome” and “what kind of plan do you need to create to accomplish” are useful for identifying issues and setting coaching goals.
A Coaching Plan Outline
The employee side of a coaching plan should include development areas, performance activities and benchmark goals. The manager or team lead’s side of the plan should include coaching activities, accountability milestones, and target dates. Barbara A. Reilly of Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business recommends limiting the plan to no more than three or four development areas at one time. If you identify more, prioritize. Include the most important and add the rest over time.
Writing a Coaching Plan
For a development area like difficulties with handling customer complaints, an employee might decide that listening in on an experienced co-worker’s calls to see how she handles complaints and writing a script that lists common complaints — along with action steps for resolving complaints — can improve her skills in this area. Benchmark goals might include reducing call time by 5 percent and reducing call escalations by two calls per week. The coach might decide to sit with the employee, listen to calls and provide immediate feedback, and also do role-playing. Accountability milestones can include the number of calls to sit in on per week and post-role-play feedback to discuss what behaviors and actions work and which don’t work.
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