Coaching empowers your customer service team with expert support, guidance and encouragement — or, at least, it should.
Appointing the wrong person to coach your customer service team could leave agents without the skills they need to deliver a satisfying consumer experience. And that means you could lose buyers for good.
Sounds dramatic? A customer survey reveals 47 percent will switch to a competitor after consistently-poor service, even if they’ve been loyal to your brand for years. Committing to a solid coaching program reduces your risk of chasing customers away to higher-performing brands, but how do you know who’s the best type of employee to coach your agents in the first place?
Here are 7 key qualities to watch out for.
#1. Strong Communication Skills
Coaching is hard work at times. Giving feedback, offering advice and setting goals can be especially difficult when you’re dealing with sensitive agents or those prone to mood swings. You want to avoid confrontations and ongoing resentment as best you can.
That’s why being a strong communicator is a fantastic asset for any coach. You must be able to take performance results for each employee and help them improve, without being overly critical or rude. Your advice will be much more effective if you can engage people and express ideas in a positive way.
If you think your communication skills aren’t as strong as they should be, consider taking a course or watching some educational videos based around body language and holding listeners’ attention. Think about how your tone and words come off in any communication channel, whether over the phone, instant messaging etc.
#2. Being a Good Listener
Effective coaching isn’t all about talking — it’s about listening too. When you make an effort to hear what people are saying, you’ll find they’re much easier to understand and help.
Each customer service agent will have a reason for failing to meet targets and improve as expected. They could struggle when trying to engage customers, get confused easily or become anxious when they’re not sure how to help someone.
Take the time to listen to their explanations and digest their words. Practise asking more questions and focusing on what people say. If you feel they’re being unclear, don’t be afraid to ask them to elaborate.
Over time, you’ll pay more attention during coaching sessions and, ultimately, make them more rewarding for everyone involved.
#3. An Ability to Identify Strengths and Weaknesses in Each Employee
All customer service teams are made up of people. And everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.
As a good coach, you should be able to pinpoint these quickly based on their performance results and through conversation. The sooner you spot what they’re doing right and wrong, the sooner you can start helping them.
Try to look for common links between an agent’s performance and their personality. What traits help you identify their specific assets and flaws? Which need the most attention to achieve ongoing improvement?
#4. Seeing Situations from Other Perspectives
Coaches should have the capacity to empathize with agents and see things through their eyes. For example, they may have been rude to a number of customers over the past month but have good personal reasons to feel short-tempered.
This isn’t an ideal situation for the business, but being compassionate enough to understand their perspective can help make coaching sessions more effective. You would be able to advise them on overcoming their difficulties, recognizing when it’s important to think of their impact on the customer’s experience and focusing on the end result above their own feelings.
Seeing a situation through another person’s eyes can shed new light on problems and identify opportunities you might have missed before. Be more open to people’s views and explanations, rather than bombarding them with goals and critiques.
#5. Commitment to Finding Solutions for Diverse Problems
As a coach, you’ll face different problems when working with customer service agents. Perhaps some are taking too long to resolve interactions and causing a backlog of ticket requests, leaving consumers raging at massive queues. Maybe others are achieving low satisfaction scores after conversations because they’re not using the CRM right.
Whatever the issue, you should be willing to research the best solutions for any problem affecting agents’ performance. This may take more time and effort than you’d like, but it’ll pay off when your coaching sessions lead to better results.
#6. Knowing How to Make Expectations Clear and Reasonable
You have expectations of your agents when starting to coach them, no matter how minor they may be. Creating targets and guiding employees to hit them is crucial for an effective coaching session, but you need to make goals explicit.
Being too vague or demanding results without really explaining how won’t encourage anyone to achieve what you’re looking for. You need to be clear and honest when coaching agents, ensuring recognition of what they have to do and why.
Get used to asking people if they understand what you’re saying and suggest they explain it back to you. That’s a fast, simple way to test your clarity.
#7. You can Adopt Alternative Coaching Options
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” That’s a pretty fascinating quote, though it’s uncertain who actually said this in the first place, but regardless, its meaning is clear: don’t be afraid to try something different.
This is true when coaching your customer service team. If one technique or approach is failing to achieve the positive results you’re aiming for, look at your options and adapt your plans.
You may need to consult fellow coaches or managers for help. Never be too stubborn to admit when something isn’t working.
These 7 key qualities make coaches better at their job, helping you engage with others, understand their views and identify the most effective learning path for their needs.
It’s vital to work on all of these qualities and give yourself the tools to drive real improvement. Take the time to review your own coaching sessions and your entire approach to the work. Think about any changes you could make to achieve better results and maximize agents’ efficiency, no matter how hard it may be to admit when you’re wrong.
Are there any other qualities you think are essential for a good customer service team coach? Share your ideas below!