Coaching has emerged as a critical lever for call centers to improve customer experience and build competitive advantage. According to the CCW Market Study, “The Future of the Contact Center in 2019,” coaching and training is the most urgent investment priority for call center executives. However, not all approaches to coaching are created equal.
We learned in the first post of this blog series about how behavior-based coaching is dramatically more effective than its traditional alternative, call-based coaching. Behavior-based coaching is more efficient, more accurate, and stays focused on what really matters for the success of each individual call center rep and the business as a whole. In this post, we dig into one of the reasons why behavior-based coaching is so much better: it creates a strong, trusting relationship between the coach and the rep.
The tough aspects of the coach-rep relationship
The coach-rep relationship is often fraught in traditional call center environments. Coaches are overloaded, sifting through mountains of call data and firefighting call escalations daily. Their call analytics tools are rife with errors and only incrementally better than having no tool at all. All of these issues make it impossible to effectively coach or have valuable and consistent conversations with the reps on their teams.
Reps become frustrated with inadequate feedback, not trusting the guidance they do get from coaches since it’s based on incomplete context (such as only one call at a time). Reps are left unable to understand where and how they can improve.
If you read the above two paragraphs carefully, you probably noticed the issues with data and workflow that serve to damage the coach-rep relationship. This issue of trust in data is one we’ll address in a later post in the series. For now, I want to focus on a different aspect of trust and how behavior-based coaching helps it grow: trust in each other and the rep-coach relationship.
Clarity of information is important
As I said before, we’ll get into the issue of data in much more detail in a future post, but it’s important to recognize the impact it can have (for good or bad) on the “softer” sides of our businesses. With behavior-based coaching, both the coach and the rep are looking at the same “source of truth” information about what occurred across all the rep’s calls. Instead of relying on the coach’s subjective determination of performance listening to only one call recording at a time, both coach and rep can concretely see an objective roll-up of the rep’s adherence to key behaviors across all their calls at once.
This single shift in process makes a huge difference in how the coach and the rep can relate to each other. The rep immediately takes the coach’s feedback more seriously because they understand what’s behind it, and the coach can focus on providing more valuable guidance without worrying about the accuracy of their assessment.
Consistent two-way communication improves engagement
Since the behavior-based coaching approach provides information about specific behaviors across many calls, coaches can flag missed opportunities in calls as they come up - and reinforce great performance, as well. The consistency is key here: by repeatedly coaching on one behavior, the rep will understand the trend in their performance and internalize the advice the coach gives for how to perform better with each successive conversation.
Additionally, the rep has the necessary context to actually respond to the coach as they receive feedback, asking follow-up questions and deepening the context they have about how to improve on each key behavior. This reinforcement and two-way engagement can’t happen if the coach and rep only focus on one call at a time.
Coaching sessions that get below the surface
With behavior-based coaching, coaches can leverage the behavior adherence data provided across calls AND the two-way communication and feedback that happens consistently in between sessions to provide a much more productive 1:1 experience for the rep. Instead of spending the time listening to one call and discussing possible areas for improvement, the coach and rep can address clear performance trends that have already been identified and apply focused guidance on how to improve in the specific behaviors the rep needs it most.
We’ve just gone through a few important ways behavior-based coaching improves the relationship between the coach and the rep in call centers. When this relationship gets stronger, the rep feels more supported and empowered to change their behavior and improve their performance. As we’ll see in the next post, this has a direct impact on another important relationship: the one between rep and customer.