Don’t Just “Coach Them On It”

A post at Call Center Cafe recently stated:

"A major performance management problem in organizations today is ignoring poor
performance. Ignoring poor performance tells everybody that mediocrity is
acceptable. In a hyper-competitive world this is deadly. The negative impact on
even the top performers is only a matter of time."

Amen!

QA coaches should be part of the performance management solution, but they often become part of the problem. One of the most common slippery slopes that QA coaches fall into is to "coach them on it" – as in "I won’t mark them down for it, but I’ll coach them on it."

"Coach them on it" is generally rooted in:

  • Wanting to avoid potential confrontation and conflict with the CSR by actually marking down their scores. So avoid the confrontation, give them credit on the QA form and "coach them on it."
  • Not having confidence in your QA methodology. If the CSR argues the point I’m not sure I can defend it, so I’ll give them credit and "coach them on it."
  • Not having a QA scale or scorecard that clearly and directly addresses the appropriate behaviors you’re attempting to drive in the call center. There’s no where to address what the CSR did, so just "coach them on it."

High School psychology taught me that behavior change doesn’t happen without the motivation to do so. My years of experience in call centers have taught me that CSRs won’t alter their behavior unless the standard is well defined, well measured and they have been given motivation to change. The motivation required for some will be positive (e.g. incentives and rewards) and for others the motivation will have to be negative (e.g. potentially losing your job).

When you give CSRs credit on the QA form and "coach them on it", you’re sending the message:

  • "We’re suggesting you do this."
  • "We want you to do this, but not really."
  • "This would be a great thing for you to do, but we’re not that serious about it."

If you want CSRs to change their behavior and meet the standard, then you have to define the standard, measure to the standard and make people accountable to meeting the standard.

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  1 comment for “Don’t Just “Coach Them On It”

  1. November 20, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    Tom – in your work how often is it a failure to “define the standard” as you suggest vs. a failure to measure and hold accountable?
    I often see people not know what the standard of successful performance is and therefore be blindsided by a review.
    But is that true in the “call center world”?
    Always good of you to pull back the curtain and allow the rest of us “see” the challenges behind managing the voices we hear when we call for help.
    Thankful…this week and every week, Mike

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