Call center agents have a stressful job. It can be time-consuming, frustrating, and emotionally draining. As someone who has been in their position, you will be all too aware of how trying it can be on certain days. Calls are coming in all day, often from all over the world via a virtual phone number. As their manager, it’s your job to mentor and coach your employees to be the best they can be.

Implement some of these proven methods for coaching call center staff and you’ll soon find they’re more motivated and engaged with their job, their careers, and the customers they serve.

Call center manager observes agents

9 Proven Coaching Methods for Call Center Staff

Here are nine techniques every call center manager needs in their coaching manual, helping you bring out the best in every member of your team.

 

1. Be Clear When Feeding Back

Employees in any job value clarity when discussing their role and overall performance. When offering any feedback, be clear and concise. Vague or over-generalized points will leave an employee confused and frustrated. If possible, make every piece of feedback actionable. Give an employee key takeaways and pointers that they can implement straight away.

You should also consider the environment you’re in. If the coaching session is taking place at the agent’s desk, keep anything negative or constructive to a minimum. There is nothing worse than being called out in front of other people by your boss, so save your most constructive points for one-on-one sessions.

 

2. Be Specific and Provide Data

As an extension of providing clear feedback, it’s even better if you can provide specific examples. Often, you’ll find your call center agents aren’t aware of the little things that they could improve.

Perhaps they stutter or provide too many “ums” and “erms” during a call. Maybe they repeat themselves or jump the conversation around without speaking with clarity. These are things that we all do in day-to-day conversation, and most of the time we don’t even notice. Pinpoint a couple of specific examples to provide context to your overall feedback.

Even better, bring along data. You’ll likely be able to draw on some form of data that’s relevant to the call center agent’s performance. This offers a great opportunity to benchmark an individual’s performance and set clear targets for improvement.

 

3. Be Positive as Well as Constructive

A surefire way to demotivate staff and ensure your coaching falls on deaf ears is to only provide negative feedback. We all want to know areas we can improve on, but if it doesn’t come within a wider context of development, it can be demoralizing.

Open your coaching sessions with something positive to build your agent up. Observe their behavior and let them know of an area they’ve improved on since the last catchup.

Lots of managers recommended using the “sandwich” feedback technique. Open the conversation with something positive before moving onto something constructive. Always be sure to then end the session with something positive, helping your agent feel good about the coaching session that has just taken place.

 

4. Make Everything About Progress   

Motivating any employee in any industry is much more effective when it’s part of a wider strategy for career development. Call center agents tend to be young and early in their careers. They’re motivated to succeed in the long-term, so as a manager how can you make your feedback work towards in-role improvement and long-term achievement?

The first step here is to be aware of that person’s long-term goals. Where do they want to go in their working life? What skills do they want to develop? Where do they think they need to improve?

Use this as a framework for each coaching session. How can their day-to-day role apply to their career goals? When providing feedback, relate it back to those goals. It’ll add an extra layer of motivation for that employee to improve upon it.

 

5. Check-in on Progress

Each coaching session should include a series of points and actions an agent can take away and implement. Over time, you and the employee can monitor their performance against these pointers.

Use every monthly catchup with that agent to check in on their progress, tick off any achievements, and add more goals. This isn’t a one-time definitive list that’s disposed off once everything is done. Progress is ongoing. We all have things we can improve on and focusing on these will help keep your agent motivated.

Don’t just leave it until your next one-to-one session either. Progress can be checked weekly, it only takes a quick question or comment during the day to find out more about how they’re getting along.

 

6. Clear Roadblocks to Progress   

Sometimes, despite all our best intentions, progress is hard to come by. Things get in the way; workloads change and anything that doesn’t directly improve the bottom line can be sidelined by businesses that don’t value their employees.

As a manager, it’s your job to clear as many of these roadblocks as possible and to build a strong relationship with your agents. Are there simply not enough hours in the day for your agent to focus on development? Are they unsure of exactly how to get started? Do they have all the tools required?

There could be any number of roadblocks, and there’s only one way to unearth them – ask. Set some time aside in your next coaching session to discuss any barriers and work out how you might overcome them.

 

7. Try Something New

Call center roles are unique in that they require a lot of repetitive work. Dealing in a customer-facing role, when many of those customers have problems or complications with your service, can be emotionally tough.

If you find it’s becoming too much for someone, consider switching it up for a while. Is there anything else they can do that take their mind away from constant verbal exchanges? These small refreshers can give your staff room to breathe and recharge. Once they return to the calls, they’ll be suitably motivated to go again.

 

8. Use Roleplay

The pressures of dealing with customers in the moment discourages agents to move away from what they know. Sometimes a different approach is needed, one that thinks outside the box to provide more effective solutions to customers.

To teach these new methods of problem-solving to agents, try introducing roleplay. Playing out scenarios where you take on the role of the customer and the agent tries to handle your complaint in the best way possible. Then swap over and show them how you would do it.

This encourages agents to try different methods in a far less pressurized environment than dealing with real customers. Expand their knowledge and skills base and they will gradually become more proficient at their job.

 

9. Coaching Everyone Periodically  

Customer service is an ever-evolving field. As a manager, stay on top of the latest trends and developments in the industry and pass on that knowledge to your team. Hold team-wide training sessions every few months, focusing on a new tactic or skill that you think the whole of the team could benefit from.

 

Call centers are some of the most challenging workplaces around. As a manager, it’s part of your role to observe and mentor each member of your team to improve every single day. Using these effective techniques, you can craft a motivated team that’s ready to deliver better results.