Successful Call Center Quality Assurance: Spotlight on Coaching

Call Center QA programs have many components that are mission critical. Coaching – a training and development tool to ensure employees have the knowledge & skills necessary to perform their work at a high level – is a popular tool for QA-focused call center managers.

Call Center Coaching – Imagine a Three-Legged Stool…

Most call center managers will monitor calls. The overwhelming majority of them will also evaluate or score those calls. Call agent coaching is the third leg of the stool. No matter how many times an agent’s call is monitored and evaluated, change can’t happen without good coaching.

Coaching allows call center supervisors to address specific competencies and areas for improvement, as well as target feedback to the most important areas of need. But it does more than that. Coaching communicates to the agent that they count. It allows supervisors and agents to set goals that meet company objectives. It also facilitates supervisor tracking of individual employee goals.

Call center QA tools like coaching are most effective when they are part of an overall employee-focused strategy in which call center agent development and retention are a company focus. That’s why the most effective coaching is done in a positive manner with the goal of providing constructive feedback for employee development.

Here are six things to consider when implementing an effective call center agent coaching program:

  1. Call centers are full of people, and none of them are alike. Coaching allows a good supervisor to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the individual. It’s all about providing individual attention and direction.
  2. Coaching sessions should be regularly scheduled. Avoid holding sessions only when someone’s done something wrong. These are sessions for positive feedback, guidance and development, not a negative time out for poor performance.
  3. Let the agent go first. People are often their own worst enemy, and it’s not uncommon for an employee to perceive shortcomings in themselves that are just flat out wrong.
  4. Accentuate the positive. The supervisor should always lead with what was done well. Yes, coaching is a forum for providing constructive feedback on what isn’t working. But it’s also critical to reinforce positive actions. Balance the positive with what could have been done better. An agent often won’t realize they need to change a behavior.
  5. Coaching sometimes means tough love. Difficult issues or repeat offenders should be tackled directly. It can be a difficult thing for some supervisors to do, but coaching sessions are all about steering the agent towards best practices – and communicating the consequences of not changing behavior is critical.
  6. Respect privacy. Remember Bullet #1, about how coaching focuses on the individual? One quick and easy (and, frankly, moral and ethical) thing companies can do to foster a positive employee environment is to respect each individual’s right to privacy.

So here’s my take: from a QA perspective, effective Call Center Coaching makes a difference in a center’s performance. And in the proper call center environment, it can make a huge difference.

Anyone have any thoughts?