Industry Insights

Five New Year’s Resolutions Every Customer Service Coach Should Make to Improve Team Performance and Customer Experience

By Kam Rawal / Jan 10, 2018

Customer Service Resolutions

In professional sports, when a team consistently loses and just can’t seem to perform well together no matter how many highly paid athletes are hired, the solution is often to replace the coach. While this doesn’t always solve the issue, there is a lesson here.

The lesson is that team performance—including customer support teams—is only as good as the quality of the coaching and mentoring that each team member receives. Now, I’m not suggesting that contact center coaches be replaced, but what I am suggesting is that far more emphasis be placed on helping coaches be better at what they do.

The following five resolutions (plus one bonus best practice for executives) can help coaches tweak and tune their coaching and mentoring skills and effectiveness.

Resolution #1: Coach to the behavior and not the number

Back to the sports reference briefly, if the coach of a soccer team wants a player to score more goals, he or she doesn’t just cite a target number of goals and expect the player to know what to do to achieve that. Instead, the coach discusses behaviors that lead to more opportunities to score.

We use the same concept in customer service. Behavior-focused coaching is based on helping team members understand and deliver the right behaviors to achieve the performance goals you’ve established, whether that’s customer satisfaction, first-call resolution or other core key performance indicators (KPIs).

Resolution #2: Demonstrate the right behavior

It’s not enough to communicate which behaviors you expect team members to exhibit, you also need to demonstrate the behavior. For instance, a frustrated customer wants to vent to your team member. Your support rep is polite and lets the customer vent, but it goes on and on without a resolution. Handle time for the call is way up plus the customer frustration is unabated because the support rep isn’t handling the situation properly.

It’s not enough to communicate behaviors you expect from team members, you also need to demonstrate the behavior.

A good coach picks up on the fact that a support rep is struggling with how to take control while still demonstrating empathy. By demonstrating the right behavior to use to handle the situation, you can show support reps exactly what the behavior should entail.

Resolution #3: Rely more on side-by-side coaching and less on remote monitoring

Monitoring systems make it easier to gain insight into how your team is performing. But relying too much on remote monitoring means that you miss out on opportunities to observe and guide team members, and build mutual trust with in-person communication. With side-by-side coaching, you can demonstrate the right behaviors and help them master them while they’re interacting with customers so this doesn’t become a “gotcha”.

Resolution #4: Spend more time on coaching than paperwork

The biggest challenge for many coaches is trying to balance the time and effort required for administrative duties with the time available for coaching and mentoring. An ideal mix is 70 percent of the time spent on coaching and 30 percent on administrative tasks. Many support teams have this in reverse. Look for ways to improve the efficiency of tasks such as reporting to make more time for coaching. Advocate for automation to free up more of your time, which is the top driver of team performance.

Resolution #5: Get organized and automated

Speaking of automation, coaches need a good performance/workforce management system (for example, Compas from Orbit Group Partners) to track feedback and performance of team members automatically. Look for one with a scorecard capability so that team members can easily access and track their own performance. The right system helps you and your team stay focused on the most critical areas for improvement.

Bonus Resolution for executives: Invest in your coaches

If you want consistently high-performing customer support teams, you need to invest in your coaches. Start by adopting a good coaching model. Train all of your coaches on this model so that everyone is applying the same methodology and techniques. Help your coaches align processes around the coaching model to make sure that feedback is consistent across all coaches and team members. Help free up your coaches’ time so that they can coach more.

If you want consistently high-performing support teams, invest in your coaches.

Apply the best practices here to your coaching and mentoring of your coaches. We are all responsible for helping them become better at what they do. After all, support center quality and performance will only be as good as your coaches.

Kam Rawal is Head of Global Services at AppDirect.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn. Click here to read it.