It’s no secret that coaching, leading, and running a successful team is challenging in any organization, let alone in a constantly evolving contact center environment. The number of hours spent planning coaching sessions, analyzing past call recordings, and determining the most tactical approach to re-coaching is time-consuming at best and all-consuming at worst.

Tim Claudin, Director of Sales at Balto, and Jason Cutter, CEO and Founder of Cutter Consulting Group, recently hosted a webinar to discuss the inefficiency of coaching in contact centers, and provide some tips about how to improve this universal pain point. Here’s what they revealed about how to coach once, coach effective, and coach in the moment with real-time coaching.

1. Remain in the Present, Not in the Past  

It’s not surprising for most contact center supervisors to learn that 45% of managers leverage call recordings to coach and re-coach agents. However, it might come as a shock to some that 47% of managers spend up to five hours per week listening to recordings. In other words, managers spend 12.5% of their workweek elbow deep in conversations that happened in the past.

“If you have a team of any size and they’re on the phone by lunch on the first day, you’ve already lost because they produced so many recordings that you literally can’t get to — and then you can’t coach from, right? … It’s like you’ve instantly lost and are now incapable of actually re-coaching your team,” Jason Cutter, a self-proclaimed systems and processes aficionado, explained during the webinar.

Relying on call recordings to learn where you’ve lost money means that agents are likely repeating the same mistakes as you listen to said recordings. Now, you’ve lost double the money as history repeats itself. In comparison, real-time coaching allows managers to ingrain key behaviors at the moment to solidify the skill set they’re trying to improve and potentially save a call in the process.

2. Make it Stick the First Time, Not the Fourth

Balto recently surveyed 500 contact center managers about how many rounds of coaching it takes before reps learn a new skill and learned the fourth time’s a charm. Managers reported coaching agents on average 4.2 times, with some coaching up to 5 times before agents implemented a new skill. Across the board, the first coaching session was seldom effective, ever.

Let’s make it stick the first time, in real-time. Minds respond differently when they actually have to take what they’re hearing and put it into practice in the moment, so coach in the moment. Similar to the idea of role-plays, which help ingrain skills, real-time coaching is like role-play 2.0 — it’s real-life in real-time, to help reps naturally facilitate and flex new skill sets in familiar environments.

3. Learn to Become Proactive, Not Reactive  

Did you know that managers spend 75% of their time, or three-fourths of their day, re-coaching agents? That’s a huge chunk of time and one that’s indicative of how much the inefficiency of coaching in contact centers might be impacting organizations. Even more, when you’re talking about that time, three hours are dedicated to preparation and just 34 minutes are spent coaching.

So, what goes into that time? Realistically, most managers have upwards of 20 hours of recordings to listen to for one single rep and spend the bulk of their time deciding what elements to pull out and act upon. Wouldn’t it be easier to act proactively, instead of reactively? To anticipate those key aspects to coach and improve on, and not rely on endless prep work?

As a manager, you know the faults that come up in calls, because you know your business and how these calls work. You foresee that Tim might struggle with a budget objection or Anne might flounder with a de-escalation statement — because they do every single time. Real-time coaching allows for customizable action alerts for key moments like these, so you spend less time planning to coach and more time actively coaching.

Can’t-Miss Quotes from the Latest Webinar

On the Challenge to Remain Current with Coaching

“If you have a team, obviously you can’t be everywhere all the time, right? So it’s like, which baby birds are you going to save in the nest and which ones aren’t going to make it? But real-time coaching is so important, because when you do the postmortem autopsy of what happened on a call that didn’t go well, then you’re looking backward.

Everything is subjective, everyone has an opinion, and then they have to remember to put that in place next time. Real-time, in the moment, when you can do that at scale is so huge. It’s so important in this hybrid, remote, at-home workspace where you can’t just stand in a cubicle row and then hear a bunch of conversations and know who to coach at the moment.” — Jason Cutter

On the Many Ways Administrative Tasks Distract from Coaching

“One of the biggest challenges I see in organizations where they have their managers focusing on either too much or the wrong things is that instead of coaching, they’re stuck in admin hell. They’re stuck in emails, they’re stuck in meetings, and they can’t coach.

And some managers need to address those things, some managers should be coaching. Instead, you end up with a team that’s under-coached and underperforming, and that’s where turnover starts happening. It just becomes this vicious cycle.” — Jason Cutter

On the Constant (Subtle) Cycle of Coaching and Re-Coaching

“When it’s laid out like this, it’s like, ‘Oh, well, obviously it’s a problem.’ But in reality, it’s a lot more subtle than that, where there’s maybe a department-wide or organization-wide initiative to say, ‘We’re going to double down on this skillset. We’re going to really focus on empathy. We’re going to really focus on objection handling.’

And I think what happens to perpetuate this cycle is it actually gets better. There’s a little uplift for maybe a week or two, and so [managers] are like, ‘Our coaching and our focus and our re-coaching worked!’ But then there’s that steep drop off and then the cycle starts again … the whole point is we need to break the cycle.” — Tim Claudin

On the New Dawn of Coaching Culture in Real-Time

“Let’s stop listening to call recordings. No more sifting through, no more trying to guess or pick and point and understand where did this break down, and what can we do? Let’s change the coaching culture.” — Tim Claudin

Coach Once and Win (Yes, Really!)

When you look at an organization and see the different managers, different roll-ups, and different personalities, how do you pinpoint exactly who’s doing what? You simply can’t — which is why most managers spend three-quarters of their time backtracking and re-coaching. Reduce the time and effort put into contact center coaching with Balto’s latest How to Coach ONCE and WIN webinar.

Want more insights to maximize manager and agent efficiency? Check out the rest of Balto’s available webinars, and don’t forget to learn more about Balto’s Real-Time Coaching capabilities that are shaping the future of contact center coaching.