Your Agents Need Customer Service Coaching and Less Micromanaging. Here’s How.

6 min read
A woman mentors a younger employee in the office.

Truly successful contact center agents require more guidance than just initial onboarding and training. If managers can learn how to train well from the beginning and eventually shift to customer service coaching, then anxiously micromanaging employees can become a failed tactic of the past.

The modern consumer landscape is ever-evolving, and agents need personalized coaching to adapt. In this blog, we explore what we really mean by customer service coaching and its role in a successful CX strategy.

What is Customer Service Coaching?

Customer service coaching is a personalized approach to the individual mentoring needs of each employee. When managers and employers stay checked into their team members’ strengths and areas of improvement, they can empower each employee to be the best CS support agent they can be.

If businesses want to scale, they need to remove as many roadblocks as possible that might be preventing the customer from purchasing, resolving their problems, or having a seamless customer experience. Coaching is not only a way to remove roadblocks, but also to keep them from happening in the first place.

A man smiles and sits at a table with a laptop and notebook in front of him. He is surrounded by other people, who represent a mix of genders and ethnicities, and they are all listening to someone in front of them.

Coaching Versus Training: What is the Difference?

Training employees and coaching employees are two essential components of a successful support staff; however, the method and purpose of each differ. From HR anti-harassment courses to PowerPoints that detail a company’s brand guide, all new employees go through various onboarding and training.

Training is typically considered a general, one-size-fits-all method to teaching employees something they all need to know without having to consider their individual knowledge and skills. To coach effectively, you have to have essential training processes in place first. When building a successful customer service training program, it’s important to document internal processes and procedures, assemble a formalized onboarding program, and create an advanced enablement program. Training is essential to getting all support agents on the same page from the start, but coaching uses different techniques and has a different purpose.

Coaching typically comes after training, when the employee is equipped with the baseline knowledge and begins to do their job. Think of coaching agents more like mentoring them: managers want to understand their employees’ individual approach to the job, assess their level of skills, and work with them 1-on-1  to help mold them into the best agent they can be.

Illustration of a business mentor helping employees up a ladder. All of the illustrated characters step higher and higher toward a red flag, which represents a common goal.

Types of Customer Service Coaching

All employees bring different skills and needs to the table and need to be coached accordingly to be as successful as possible. Here’s how:

  1. Set Employees Up for Success

Avoid writing customer support agents a script to read from. This type of micromanaging adds more work to your plate, inhibits the employee’s growth, and stifles the unique personality or perspective they could otherwise be bringing to the table.

Instead, provide agents with important notes to hit when in conversation with a customer. Maybe you’d like them to learn how each person heard about your company at the start, or you remind the agent there is a new service they should mention wherever it comes up naturally before the conversation is over.

It may help new employees in particular to have resources in place that they can use to find specific answers they’re looking for when they need them. Providing your support agents with resources they can go to before even having to ask their manager for help empowers them to help themself and frees up your time in the process.

  1. Set up Methods for Improvement

Successful customer service coaching is all about encouraging the employee to learn from others and then from themselves. An initial method managers could use would be to have new agents shadow more experienced support agents. For example, the new employee could spend a day with the seasoned employee and listen to how they handle various client interactions.

From here, it’s important to set the agent up to learn from themself. Use call center software that automatically records client calls, so employees can listen to their own interactions afterward. Encourage agents to go back through and read their own chat conversation with a client. They should look at it critically and determine why the conclusion was successful or why not. Have surveys in place so customers can provide their own feedback for the agent to learn from.

Working in customer service without critically thinking about one’s own performance is the easier choice to make. But, if you want your support teams to really grow, they need to shine a light on their own customer interactions and learn where their areas of improvement are and where their strengths can flourish.

  1. Conduct 1:1 Coaching

Feedback tends to get a bad rap. Managers often don’t know how to communicate feedback well, employees can get defensive when hearing it, then managers may start to avoid giving it until a problem inflates, and the cycle continues.

Conducting 1:1 coaching sessions is a great way to set up a predetermined and neutral environment to give proper feedback and receive it well. Listen and discuss your agent’s recorded calls together, read through one of their recent chat conversations and share your notes, and discuss survey results as a learning exercise.

Remember that feedback should never be constant notes on where the employee is going wrong. Managers want to support agents to grow, which means telling them where they need to improve and also where they’re excelling.

How Kustomer’s Team Pulse Feature Can Help With Coaching

In a technology driven world, tech and data can help managers to implement regular customer service coaching. With Kustomer’s Team Pulse feature, you can see what agents are working on in real-time, and quickly jump to the customers and searches that agents are viewing instead of relying on manual searches.

You can also use Team Pulse to understand the current state of your queues and manually move eligible agents from a less busy queue to one with a large inbound volume, resulting in a lower wait time for your customers and less pressure on your employees. 

Request a live, personalized demo to learn more about how this tool can help you to support your CS agents.

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