8 coaching mistakes that cost you agents: How many are you making?

Agents need your help. They want to learn and be fantastic at their jobs. Who wouldn’t? Nobody likes to be the kid that has to sit out the entire soccer game or the one whose artwork isn’t held up for show in art class.

The problem is, though, that there’s some mystique surrounding coaching. It’s talked about, and people know it’s important. In fact, 63 percent of executives want to invest in more training and coaching. But more often than not, people approach coaching the wrong way. And if you don’t give your agents the proper coaching they need to succeed, they’ll leave.

If you were the kid who always had to sit out the entire soccer game, you didn’t stick with soccer as your sport of choice for too long. You likely ditched the soccer ball in exchange for something you felt good about doing. That positive feeling happens when you’ve been supported and trained along the way.

It’s simple, poor coaching creates a negative agent experience. That negative experience will keep your attrition rates hovering at the industry average of 45 percent – or worse. Plus, it will negatively impact your bottom line. Let’s solve this problem. Help your agents get off the bench and back in the game. Here are eight coaching mistakes that cost you agents. How many are you making?

1. You make coaching one-sided.

Coaching without conversations is simply lecturing. Coaching is a two-way street. Give constructive feedback and praise first, but leave the door open for questions and follow-ups. Be available for your agents when they need you, not just when you have a pressing question or comment for them. Your agents are a fantastic resource to help you learn, too. If you listen long enough, they’ll share valuable feedback on the way you coach and how you can improve the experience for them. And that will make you a more effective leader.

2. Lack of personalization.

If you don’t know agents on a personal level, you’ll never know the motivators and drivers they care about. An individual’s work should revolve around their key motivators. If not, your agents will leave. Recognize that your agents are thinking, caring, feeling humans. They need individualized training and learning to succeed. Empty, non-specific compliments or feedback leaves agents feeling uninspired and not empowered. Agents need to feel like you care about them on an individual level, so they can deliver the same type of personalization to customers.

3. You don’t coach frequently enough.

Don’t let your company’s standardized review schedule dictate when you coach. Sixty-nine percent of managers are at least somewhat uncomfortable giving feedback. You can bet with that many managers being uncomfortable with feedback, they put it on the back burner quite often. But coaching needs to happen every day. This doesn’t mean you need to schedule sit-downs with agents every day. Coaching moments present themselves constantly. When you hear a call that was fantastic, or you see an agent accurately respond to a chat response in a matter of seconds, point these interactions out. Similarly, don’t let negative interactions stockpile before you speak up. Review a handful of interactions daily, so you can give in-the-moment feedback to your agents. In-line training and quick, contextual lessons are instantly impactful. Frequent feedback empowers agents because they know they’re adequately prepped to help customers.

4. Too much negativity.

Constant negative feedback is demoralizing. Agents will hang on to the negativity, and it will spill over into customer interactions. Negative feedback puts agents on the defensive and breaks your coaching relationship. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positives, and give constructive criticism when needed. Use the feedback sweet spot, a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative feedback, to empower your agents and keep them happy on the job.

5. You don’t have clearly defined goals.

Without goals, your agents come to work every day and blindly speak to customers. They don’t understand the WHY of their jobs until you give them goals to work towards. Blindly showing up to work means bodies are in the chair, but minds aren’t reaching their full potential. Creating goals, and sharing them with your agents, gives agents a focal point. Then, every time they pick up the phone or answer a live chat, they know they’re doing it with the intention to become world’s best customer support agent. Or to close the case on the first call and raise customer satisfaction. Whatever the case may be, goals give agents the WHY behind their jobs.

6. Metrics and insights aren’t available to agents.

Just as agents need to have goals, they need to measure their progress, too. If agents can’t see metrics or insights about their performance, then they’ll never fully grasp the impact their job has on the contact center AND the entire company. Agents need access to insights to feel accomplished and effective. Metrics also help agents improve. If they have a monthly goal to close 100 cases but it’s September 22 and they’ve only closed 34, they’ll know they’re falling short. Use agent scorecards and regularly review customer interactions to give agents access to important, personalized insights.

7. Not giving in-person feedback.

Virtual feedback and quick notes in online channels are incredibly useful ways to give feedback during busy work days, but don’t use technology as a crutch. Sometimes giving feedback is hard. Don’t hide behind a device when difficult conversations come up. In-person conversations build trust and give you more insight into how your agents actually feel. When measuring total feeling during conversations, it turns out 55 percent of total feeling is expressed through facial feelings, meaning that you can pick up on agents’ emotions just by looking at their face. Plus, in-person conversations let you be more expressive. When you praise your agents and are genuinely excited, your agents will FEEL that excitement in person much more than they would in a chat message. Face-to-face conversations make you approachable, so agents will come to you with problems rather than hiding them and secretly heading for the door.

Want to make your feedback even better? Just for you, we mapped out three types of feedback to use in a coaching culture!

 

8. There’s too much emphasis on tangible rewards.

Tangible rewards, like pay and bonuses, can be great incentives to spark interest in a new skill, but they should be used sparingly. It turns out that our extrinsic motivators, like these tangible rewards, can have a negative impact on intrinsic motivation. These personally rewarding motivators are the ones that keep agents in seats. If you give agents more praise and more money but never help them feel connected to their job, they’ll leave.

Coaching agents the right way helps them flourish. And when agents flourish, so do your customers and your company.

Check out our agent success blog post to learn why agent success matters to your customers!