I spent yesterday in some "group coaching" sessions with a client. This isn’t for everyone, but I have done it with multiple clients and it has always turned into a positive experience. It tends to work better with groups who are used to being monitored and coached one-on-one, and where call coaching is already part of the fabric of the daily experience.
Here’s how it works:
- Get three to five CSRs in a conference room together. Make sure you have a good mix of people/personalities. Be intentional about who you put together in the room to try and have a healthy mix of those who will be positive and talkative along with those who may need help to draw them out into the discussion.
- Have a couple of calls for each CSR screened and ready to go. The first time you do it you may want to ensure that all the calls are overwhelmingly positive so that people can get used to the process and find out they won’t be embarrassed. Eventually move to having calls that may not be perfect, but are still good calls – so that there are some things to discuss.
- Play calls one at a time.
- Let the person whose call was played respond first by asking him/her what they thought of the call. The coach really has to be a good facilitator at this point to draw out some conversation. When the CSR says "It was okay, I guess," you need to respond with "What was okay about it?" Don’t let the CSR be only negative. Ask them to name a few things they felt good about. Keep it balanced.
- Next open it up or their peers to respond. My experience is that peers will be mostly positive and encouraging. People will often share what they appreciate about each other’s delivery and what they learn from listening to that person.
- The facilitator should reserve any formal comments until everyone else has shared (but should feel free to be part of the conversation). Often, the things you were going to share will already have been mentioned by that point, and it’s better for it to come from the group. Often, the facilitator may be the only one being critical (besides the person whose call was played – people tend to be critical of themselves), but saving it until the end allows it to be a "by the way – don’t forget these things" balanced by all of the positive discussion that has already taken place. It’s the ol’ Mary Poppins principle: "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down."
Here’s what CSRs say they like about group call coaching:
- It’s something different.
- It allows them to hear/see how other people do things, providing them with thoughts and ideas for how they can approach their own calls differently.
- It often becomes a mini-training session, learning how other people attacked certain issues or navigated the system.
- The positive affirmation of their peers makes them feel good and helps build a sense of "we’re all in this together."
- The round table discussion often surfaces questions/issues that CSRs may be too embarrassed to ask in a one-on-one coaching session.
Have you done similar group coaching sessions? What other tips do you have to share?
If you try it in your call center, let us know how it went!