Ugh, Call Center Coaching…Let’s talk about it.
Ok, Call Center Coaching…what is it? Well, there are certainly textbook definitions you can find online. Such gripping narratives use exhilarating phrases like “annual performance review,” “call center coaching tools,” and “telephony integration.” Who doesn’t want to dive into that…?
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the call center: coaching, while massively important, just…isn’t that fun for call center managers and agents alike. Many call center managers avoid coaching, reporting that coaching one new skill takes at least 10 hours; even so, most managers believe coaching is the most important thing they could be doing — talk about a disconnect (no pun intended).
Given the well-documented challenges that plague call center coaching, it’s no surprise that coaching is no one’s favorite pastime. But what exactly are the challenges that make call center coaching such a tough task to tackle, and is there any way to remedy them?
Let’s explore the hurdles that stand in the way of effective coaching, show how the right approach can help you get past them.
Defining the Challenges with Call Center Coaching
We’ve all dealt with call center coaching challenges, and even though you might feel alone in your struggles, the truth is most of these issues are pretty common. Do any of these call center coaching techniques ring a…phone?
- Good coaching preparation takes A LOT of time. Smart call center coaching methods takes serious preparation. After all, nothing is more awkward than a bad coaching session between managers and agents. Being stuck in a conference room with disengaged agents isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, so preparation and planning are key. But even armed with contact center training program outlines, managers have to put in work before a session. In fact, most managers spend 5x as much time prepping as they do coaching.
- Coaching wreaks havoc on contact center bandwidth. During coaching sessions, call center reps and agents need to stop customer interactions and speaking with prospective customers, which is their job. With so many call centers already at capacity, that’s a no-go.
- Coaching doesn’t scale. Let’s say a call center manager with 100 agents has an excellent 30-minute coaching session with an individual agent. Naturally, the call center manager might want to provide that training for the rest of the agents. But that could take literally 50 hours — that’s more than two full days, and well over a full work week. So even if you were to crack the call center coaching code, it’s still almost impossible to deploy at scale.
These are a few of the most common challenges with call center coaching, but there are plenty more.
Call Center Coaching Best Practices: the Pillars of Successful Sessions
So…what do we do? Well, there are a few call center coaching principles to keep in mind: keep your coaching short, focused, and fun.
1. Keep your call center coaching short, like…really short. Listen, we live in the TikTok era, and we humans expect quick entertainment. Imagine if your call center coaching session was as viral as a TikTok video? All of your agents would become supernatural-super-agents overnight! So don’t hesitate to keep the call center coaching session under 10 minutes and hyper-focused on a single coaching objective – it will save you time, be a lot more fun, and call center agents are much more likely to remember and apply what they’ve learned.
2. Keep coaching focused. It’s easy to try and cover too much in a coaching session. After all, there are always a million things we could be doing better, from talk speed to active listening, objection handling (sales), or average handle times (customer service).
For example, let’s say you’d like to coach an agent on opening statements. Let’s break introductory statements down further, like this:
High-Level Call Center Coaching Goal
“I want to coach my agents on Introductory Statements.”
Drill Down 1
“Specifically, I want the tone of their conversation to be better.”
Drill Down 2
“And their opening statements have a few parts. Let’s focus on the first sentence of the opening statement.”
Rather than coaching “opening statements,” you’re now coaching on “tone” in the first sentence of a conversation. Plus, it sets up the foundation for further call center coaching sessions, since you can easily map out micro-coaching sessions that build on each other.
3. Finally, keep your coaching fun. Short and focused lend themselves well to the fun. In a warm and fun tone, ask the agent to practice the first sentence of the conversation 10 times over (one practice run for each minute of the session). Make it fun and informal; agents might think it’s silly, but it keeps them energized and, more importantly, excited about future call center coaching sessions.
There are plenty of call center management tips and tools — from software to coaching question pdfs — that can help you focus your coaching sessions so they’re quick and engaging. Explore all the available tools to figure out if your team responds well to something like call center simulation training software, or if live coaching is more impactful.
Whether you start your sessions by asking coaching questions, listen to call recordings to uncover coachable moments, walk the floor in search of opportunities, or take a different approach entirely, remember to keep any session short, focused, and fun.
Balto: the Cure for Common Call Center Coaching
If coaching call center agents isn’t your favorite part of the job, we get it — for a long time, call center managers and agents alike have viewed coaching as a necessary yet endlessly frustrating task. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’re passionate about call center quality assurance tips, so we designed Balto.
Balto understands call center conversations and coaches agents and reps on what to say, live in real-time. That way, contact center agents receive focused micro coaching on every single conversation, and develop good habits quickly.