Contact center managers have a variety of agent coaching methods at their disposal. However, contact centers come in all shapes and sizes, from two-person teams to thousands of agents spread around the world. 1-on-1 coaching may work for a small team, but may not for hundreds of remote agents.
We asked over 500 contact center managers about how they coach to see how different-sized teams approach the process. We found:
- The bigger the contact center, the more time managers spend each month coaching.
- The majority of contact centers of any size use at least two kinds of coaching methods, with 1-on-1 coaching as the clear favorite. Mid-sized teams also favor side-by-side/whisper coaching.
- Smaller contact centers are more likely to use only one method of identifying coaching opportunities, such as walking the floor, while bigger centers are more likely to employ multiple methods at once.
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Bigger Contact Centers Spend More Time on Coaching
In our previous report on coaching effectiveness, we found that current coaching practices aren’t producing ideal results. Managers often need to coach one skill more than once and spend hours preparing for each session; by our math, managers must invest 10-14 hours per coaching session. With an average hourly pay of $29/hour, contact centers are spending $290-$406 per coaching session.
We also found that as center size increases, agents need more coaching sessions in order to reinforce a new skill — adding hours to an already intensive schedule. In our previous report, we theorized that if larger contact centers needed more coaching sessions to implement a skill, maybe those sessions are divided into smaller chunks that take less time overall.
However, a new review found this isn’t the case. Managers in larger contact centers reported spending significantly more minutes coaching each month than those in smaller teams.
Managers on teams of 1-50 agents reported spending on average 159 minutes every month coaching agents, while 1000+ agent centers reported 348 minutes a month. Centers with 501-1000 agents reported the highest amount of time: 384 minutes a month.
Figure 1: Time Spent Coaching Each Month by Contact Center Size
Based on our previous data that showed the average coaching session takes 34 minutes, this means managers in larger contact centers are investing significantly more time into coaching sessions than their smaller counterparts. As we explored in our previous report, the majority of this time is likely being spent re-coaching agents on the same skills.
Meanwhile, smaller contact centers may be able to take advantage of on-the-spot coaching methods like walking the floor. Larger contact centers may have to plan more time in advance to ensure agents are using appropriate skills.
There’s evidence that more coaching leads to better results, but this relies on how effective a given coaching session might be. More coaching doesn’t always mean an immediate improvement in agent effectiveness. Contact centers with 250 agents or more need at least 5 coaching sessions before their agents can effectively use a new skill; centers with 1-50 need only 3.
Smaller Contact Centers Stick to One Method of Identifying Coaching Opportunities
An important piece of the coaching puzzle is being able to identify when an agent needs guidance. Today’s contact center managers have a wide range of tools available to meet this need, from tried-and-true tactics like listening to call recordings to using whisper-mode tech to listen in during live calls.
We asked our respondents to rate how often they used the following methods to identify coaching opportunities:
- Walking the Floor
- Reviewing Past Metrics
- Listening to Live Calls
- Listening to Call Recordings
- Using Technology Solutions
- 3-Way Calls
- Customer Feedback
- Multiple (More than one method reported)
- Nothing (No method reported)
Managers reported listening to call recordings as their only method of identifying coaching opportunities at 21.4% of all responses. This is nearly tied with those who described using multiple methods, at 21.2% of responses. The next most-reported methods, listening to live calls and walking the floor, each amounted to 15.2% and 11.3% respectively.
When categorized by contact center size, a trend emerges: Centers with more agents were more inclined to use multiple methods compared to just one. Centers with 1001+ agents reported using multiple methods 35.8% of the time, compared to 19% of centers with 1-50 agents.
Larger contact centers also had higher rates of using technology when identifying coaching opportunities and higher rates of reviewing past metrics (i.e. scorecards).
Figure 2: Methods Used to Identify Coaching Opportunities by Contact Center Size
One possible explanation for the increase in diversification is simply proximity. Contact centers with 1001+ agents had the highest rate of remote work, while centers with 501-1000 agents had the highest rate of hybrid work. Smaller contact centers had the highest rate of in-person work and the lowest combined rates of remote or hybrid work.
Figure 3: Rate of In-Person, Remote, or Hybrid Work by Contact Center Size
With more agents working from a variety of locations, it makes sense that managers in bigger contact centers need to employ more than one method of finding coaching opportunities. Luckily, multiple studies have shown no discernible difference in the quality of coaching if it’s in-person or virtual.
In our previous report on coaching effectiveness, we found that fully-remote contact centers did no worse than in-person centers on coaching and, in some cases, reported better coaching effectiveness. This may correlate with their multi-pronged approach to identifying coaching opportunities.
Most Managers Use Multiple Coaching Methods
In addition to how managers identify opportunities for coaching, we wanted to know what methods they employ for the coaching sessions themselves. Respondents were asked to select from the following methods:
- 1-on-1 Coaching sessions
- Team Coaching
- Side-by-Side/Whisper Coaching
- Encouraged Peer Coaching
Managers from all-sized contact centers overwhelmingly said they use 1-on-1 coaching, with an additional majority reporting regular use of team coaching. Mid-sized contact centers reported higher rates of using side-by-side/whisper coaching than the smallest or largest centers. Contact centers with 501-1000 agents reported the highest total rate of all methods.
Figure 4: Rate of Reported Coaching Methods by Contact Center Size
The high rate of 1-on-1 coaching is unsurprising, even in large contact centers. While all coaching methods have a degree of effectiveness, studies show individual coaching may be more effective at helping individuals obtain personal goals than team coaching. In our report on why agents struggle in contact centers, we reported that 81% of surveyed agents found 1-on-1 coaching to be helpful.
Managers shouldn’t dismiss team coaching as a viable option as well; many agents prefer a multi-faceted approach to target multiple skills and goals. In the same study, we found that 83% of agents find company training helpful alongside 1-on-1 coaching. Team training has been found to be successful in helping individuals obtain relevant knowledge — a key factor in coaching effectiveness.
While respondents were least likely to use peer coaching overall, our agent survey found that 82% of agents find asking other agents for suggestions to be helpful. All coaching methods have their benefits, and managers should employ them dynamically in response to coaching needs. If an agent is working towards personal goals, 1-on-1 coaching may be the best choice; when trying to teach a group of agents one skill, team coaching sessions may be faster.
Managers from Any-Sized Contact Centers Can Coach Effectively
Regardless of the size of your team, contact center managers have an increasingly-varied variety of tools at their disposal for coaching agents. In both large, decentralized teams and smaller teams with fewer resources, managers can employ effective methods to identify and capitalize on coachable moments. If one method isn’t working, it may be worth adding another into the mix, or reaching out directly to your agents to see which coaching methods they prefer.
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Cite this report
Balto. (2022, April 18). How Contact Center Size Impacts Manager Coaching Methods – Balto Ai. RSS. Retrieved from https://www.balto.ai/research/how-contact-center-size-impacts-manager-coaching-methods/