The average American works for nearly nine hours every weekday. That means people spend 37 percent of their five-day week at work. In that time, your agents could hike the Inca Trail and have some extra time to explore the sights. They could paint 11 average-sized bedrooms (double-coated and all). Or they could have 36 extra hours with their kids.
Your agents choose to spend more than one-third of their week working in your contact center. They even work more than they sleep. When people dedicate that much of their life to your company, they deserve to be recognized and treated as individuals. Janet deserves to come to work each day and have an agent experience that’s happy and empowering – one that works for her. And Janet, the go-getter, won’t be empowered if she spends a third of her precious time being treated exactly like Tim, the guy who likes to be micromanaged. Agent experience is about individual agents.
Coach to improve work for your agents, not just to improve metrics.
In this post, we’re giving you some contact center coaching tips for a healthier agent experience – one that’s specialized for Janet, or Tim, or Colleen. Follow these tips to coach better and personalize your agent experience.
1. Schedule regular 1:1s.
Take some time once a month, every other week, or weekly to sit down with each of your agents and have a conversation. Create basic guidelines, but let your agents choose how often you meet.
Some agents will prefer to dig into the details of tasks and customer interactions regularly while others will be happy with in-line coaching and prefer to have less-frequent formal conversations. One-on-ones should be a time for agents to bring their concerns, wants, and needs to the table.
You’re there to listen guide them, but this is your agent’s time to have direct, personal coaching.
Head over to our how-to guide on coaching more efficiently and effectively to find email templates and more actionable tips for running better 1:1s!
2. Ask each of your agents for feedback.
Build positive relationships with your agents, so they are comfortable sharing feedback. Then, use your one-on-one conversations as a platform to ask for that feedback. Leave your office door open for questions and concerns regularly, too, but recognize that not all agents will bring concerns to the table without an appointment on the books. Use your personalized one-on-one conversations as a way to gain insight about how you’re doing as a coach and a manager. Each agent will have a different perspective, so it’s essential to get everyone’s viewpoint. Then you’ll have a holistic view of where and how you need to improve as a coach.
3. Develop your Emotional Intelligence.
Use the feedback you get from agents, and take a quick peek at yourself and how you manage. Self-awareness and empathy are crucial to building better relationships. Knowing (and sharing) your strengths and weaknesses makes you more relatable. Empathy puts yourself in an agent’s shoes. Then you have a better understanding of how your agent felt when frustrations got a little out of hand on a call, or when an agent is late to his shift because he forgot he needed to get gas on the way in. Build this type of connection to show agents you care about them as people, not just as a means to hit goals.
4. Assign on-team mentors.
Take time to understand and coach your agents, but recognize your capacity, too. Find mentors who can help agents more frequently if they need it. Keep each of your agent’s personalities in mind, and pair them with mentors who will complement their way of working but still challenge them to tackle new obstacles. Pairing experienced agents with newer ones helps them learn the company ropes and grow their industry knowledge, too.
5. Don’t make all interactions formal ones.
Casual drop-ins and watercooler conversations are important. Pop by an agent’s desk and ask about the weekend or the kids. It’s okay, and in fact beneficial, to step beyond what happens in the four walls at work. Remember how much time your agents spend at work? Give them a chance to think about more than their to-do list when they’re at the office. You can’t help them hike the Inca Trail today, but you can let them relive happy moments and feel a little closer to home.
6. Discover agents’ key motivators.
It’s common to think that if an employee’s unhappy, you can throw more money at them to solve the problem. But, in dozens of surveys, money doesn’t even come close to being a top motivator. Less than 12 percent of people leave their jobs for money-related reasons. Dig in and find out what your agents want. See how they like to be recognized, what kind of work ignites their passion, and what incentives they prefer. Focus on intrinsic motivation rather than rewards and bonuses, and let those ambitions drive your agent’s work.
7. Create personalized career progression paths.
Don’t have a one-size fits all career path for every agent. Some companies create predefined paths to management or paths to top-tier technical support, etc. But, the problem is, a person’s career path isn’t always a vertical line to the top or even linear at all. Predefined paths don’t account for the individual wants and needs of agents. They don’t account for the changes of heart or circumstances, or even for the changes in business needs. Work with agents individually and regularly to design a career path that works for them rather than forcing them into a not-so-flexible funnel.
Don’t fret. Personalizing your agent experience doesn’t mean you have to scrap your plan and create dozens of new ones for each agent. Use the tactics we talked about to add a personal touch to your coaching, without ditching your routine.
To find more contact center coaching tips, head over to our blog post with seven more ways to optimize the agent experience!