Coaching: The Key to Contact Center Success

Sales Effectiveness Training

The right coaching can yield happier employees and more loyal customers.

How important is good coaching to the success of your contact center? If you answered “extremely important,” you are correct. That’s probably why contact centers allocate so much time and money to coaching. Research by McKinsey suggests that the average 500-person contact center in North America spends around $2 million annually on coaching activities.

Unfortunately, much of this effort fails to yield results. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average customer service representative (CSR) stays at one job for a far shorter time (just over a year for employees aged between 20 and 34) than most other employees. Turnover is double what is expected in other roles.

CSRs Endure Pressure from Customers and Supervisors

According to Forbes, the average contact center turnover is estimated to be between 30% and 45%. “The reasons are clear,” the magazine says. “The job is typically seen as stressful and anxiety provoking while monotonous and a ‘dead end.’ It boasts dual pressures of upset, angry and even rude customers pushing them in one direction and demanding supervisors pushing them in the other.”

The job has never been easy, and it’s not getting any easier. Huge call volumes, changing product lines, awkward workflows, and unhappy customers are just some of the challenges facing CSRs today. It’s no wonder that so many of them are eyeing the exits.

Customers Have Their Own Set of Complaints

On the other side of the phone line (or chat, text, email, social media, or whichever other channels your contact center employs), there is an equally long list of complaints from the customer:

  • The time it takes to listen to all the menu options and decide which one to choose.
  • Being bounced around between agents.
  • Needing to repeat the same information multiple times.
  • Being put on hold while listening to repeated assurances that “your call is very important to us,” which are relieved only by annoying “music.”
  • Hearing that the person you were hoping would help you can’t.
  • After being on interminable hold, suddenly listening to a dial tone or otherwise being disconnected.

Customer Loyalty Must Be Earned

Another survey exploring the relationship between consumers and brands found the following sobering results:

  • 86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience.
  • 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.
  • 79% of consumers who shared complaints about poor customer experience online had their complaints ignored.
  • 50% of consumers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them.

So, what can be done about this seeming impasse between customer and rep? The best way to bridge the gap and reduce the tension in this critical relationship is through coaching. Which brings us back to the $2 million question raised earlier: What kind of coaching? Unlike complimentary bathrobes at resorts, one size does not fit all when it comes to coaching.

Clearly, much of the coaching taking place today is ineffective, but “when managers get it right,” says Jaime Roca, Senior Vice President, Research & Advisory, Gartner HR Practice, “the benefits of good coaching are clear.” The company’s research shows that “employees reporting to managers who coach effectively are 40% more engaged, exhibit 38% more discretionary effort, and are 20% more likely to stay at their organizations than those who report to ineffective coaches.”

Quality Coaching Leads to Quality Customer Interactions

Whether you employ technology like speech analytics and AI or more traditional evaluation methods, there can be little doubt that good coaching benefits both your employees and your customers. For CSRs, developing a two-way line of communication offers the best opportunities to acquire the experience, skills, and capabilities they need. It can lead to improved employee retention, a reframing of their positions as a career instead of just a job, and the ability to better handle the inevitable problems that come their way. For the customer, greater satisfaction results from interacting with a representative who is informed and confident.

It’s a fact that customers are willing to pay more for a product or service if they can be assured that they are being cared for. If you’re convinced of the importance of exceptional customer service as the primary means of retaining customer loyalty, consider working with a company like ARC. We can help set your company apart from your competitors by developing coaching techniques that lead to consistent, high-quality customer interactions.