5 Ideas for Putting the Conversation in Your Coaching

I was sitting in the corner of a small conference room as the supervisor started their call coaching session with a CSR. The supervisor cut right to the chase, playing the call in question. I sat and listened. It was a decent call. Sure, there were a few little things that needed to be addressed, but it wasn’t bad at all. The call ended and the coach clicked the “stop” button.

Supervisor: So, whattaya think?


Supervisor: Good? Bad?

(CSR shrugs shoulders)

Supervisor: I thought you did well. You used the caller’s name three times and it was very conversational. You resolved the issue. You offered to help with other needs. You told the caller to have a nice day. You said, “I think” a couple of times which didn’t sound too confident so you need to watch that. There was a little bit too much dead air, so work on that. Otherwise, it was a nice call. Any questions?

CSR: Nope.

Supervisr: Okay. Have a good day!

CSR: Okay.

[exit CSR stage left]

They happen like this all the time. It’s like blogging without allowing comments. It was a management monologue. Supervisors do their duty and check another coaching session off the list. Yet, call coaching is most effective when there’s a dialogueand the session fits in context with an overall quality program. Here are a few suggestions for turning a coaching monologue into a dialogue:

  • Start the session with small talk. Small talk is great, because it gets the conversation rolling. You can also pick up some important cues regarding the CSR’s thoughts and mood that will help you in your coaching. It’s common for me to take a completely different tack with my coaching as a result of hearing about the CSR’s circumstances. As you converse, slowly transition into business related topics (How have things been going on the phones today?)
  • Make the session about more than just the call in question. Discuss the CSR’s quality goals and recent performance as it relates to their history and to the rest of the team/call center.
  • Make sure the CSR has a list of the call criteria to reference. It could be a list of a few call elements on which you wish to focus, or it might be the entire scale. Nevertheless, it helps the CSR focus on the expectations and gives you a reference (“Pick out a couple of elements on the form that you thought you did well.”)
  • Set the expectation. Ask them before you play the call to be ready to share two positives and two opportunities for improvement when the call is finished.
  • Score the call together. While I believe you should always have listened to the call and prepared beforehand, scoring it together can be beneficial at prompting conversation about the call as well as helping the CSR to better understand the criteria for which they are accountable. As a result, you also may find issues with the scale that need to be addressed.

Related post: 5 Ways to Help Your CSR Improve

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  5 comments for “5 Ideas for Putting the Conversation in Your Coaching

  1. May 14, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    This is much needed advice. I imagine that over time those being coached have come to conclude, rightly or wrongly, that a “so, whattaya think?” – isn’t the place to speak up.
    I really like “It’s not unusual for me to take a completely different tack with my coaching as a result of hearing about the CSR’s circumstances.”
    How can any coach know what is relevant till they have listened.
    Thanks Tom for challenging the management monologue!!!

  2. May 14, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks for the comment. You’re right, I think that CSRs often get to the point where they assume the supervisor/coach really doesn’t care.
    Actually, most of the supervisor/coaches I’ve worked with really do care, but they either don’t know how to engage the CSR or, more likely, they are intimidated and afraid of a potential conflict.
    Great point!

  3. May 16, 2006 at 2:53 am

    I agree with you that some managers don’t even know how to engage in conversation with their CSR’s. I used to be the type of manager that wanted everything to “go smoothly” and often didn’t take the time to ask CSRs for their feedback or how they felt about their job.

  4. May 16, 2006 at 6:14 am

    I know that it’s quite common for employee surveys to show that the front-lines value communication and recognition. Thanks for the comment, Maria!

  5. Joyce
    October 25, 2007 at 10:04 am

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