We are all adjusting to a work-from-home virtual team using GRIT and HUSTLE, and it is important to remember communication skills are the same skills we have used all along – they just look a little different as a virtual coach. The purpose of a virtual coach is to keep the company culture alive every day. Helping contact center agents earn, learn, and live well (ELL Well) is our RDI way of winning smart. Every day that we adjust and create new solutions to bridge gaps, we grow together.
Here are some ways to be an outstanding virtual coach and continue winning smart.
What is a Target Gap?
Our current performance is our reality or where we are. Our ideal performance is where we want to be. The space between those two places is what we refer to as our Target Gap. A Target Gap is the highest priority issue that prevents us from being where we need to be. For a contact center customer service agent, it could be a habit they consistently have throughout multiple calls that prevents them from meeting a metric – such as a Quality Assurance score or a high priority KPI.
How do we identify a Target Gap?
Call monitoring is even more important now that some team members are working from home. Since we are unable to walk through the aisles and hear conversations that may be “off” and provide quick, on-the-spot coaching we have to be proactive and make time to monitor each contact center agent equally. Make sure that you are listening to multiple calls from each agent on your team. This ensures that you have a high-level view of their overall performance – not just one call where they could have made a unique mistake or had a perfect performance.
Scheduling Time with Our Teams
Prioritizing Your Virtual Coaching Schedule
Once we have the most impactful Target Gap identified for each sales and customer service agent, it is important to plan your schedule accordingly. We must take the time to meet with each agent. In-person we can become used to relying on contact center agents to reach out if they need help or development. However, when working online you can’t expect your team to communicate the same as before. Your team members may want to avoid “bothering” you or assume that you are too busy for their concerns. As leaders, it is your responsibility to ensure you are reaching out to your team members equally to address any concerns they may have been too weary to mention.
Being a Proactive Virtual Coach
We need to be proactive with our schedule. Make sure that you are planning for at least one full-length coaching session with every team member every week by contacting and working with our Workforce Management team. It’s important to honor the times you set with each team member and openly communicate if you need to adjust the time you scheduled with them. Adjusting your schedule last-minute can make others feel as though their time with you is unimportant – the opposite of how we want our team members to feel.
Be Realistic with Your Schedule
Schedule enough time to complete reporting tasks and other duties throughout your day. Set realistic timeframes for how long it takes you to complete reports, and allow yourself buffer time. For example, if you have a report that is due at 12:00 PM, and a coaching session that is scheduled from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM, it is unlikely that you will be able to stay 100% focused on your team member throughout the session instead of working on that report on the side, or rescheduling the coaching session for another time.
Virtual Coach Discussion Planner
If you are struggling with how to prioritize tasks, reach out to your immediate contact center supervisor or manager. It is our duty as leaders to make time for our teams – and we coaches are included in that! To help with planning your discussions, plan out how you want the conversation to flow. Be sure to guide the coaching conversation in a manner that addresses the Target Gap you identified and you are using the ARISE Coaching Method for the most effective coaching experience.
Virtual Coach Documentation
It’s incredibly important to document your coaching session. Your notes you use to prep for your coaching session can be used for this. Be sure to include the team member’s feedback and any comments they may have, date & time the coaching took place, and follow up or action items needing to be completed before the next coaching session is held. Most organizations will have a Coaching Form or consistent process on how to store your coaching documentation. At RDI, we use a form that is to be covered with our contact center agents each week and it is saved in the Performance Monitoring section of our internal system.
Virtual Contact Center Coaching Best Practices
Challenges of Virtual Coaching
As coaches, we may be used to face-to-face interactions being easier because our team members are physically with us. Walking by them and just saying a friendly “hello”, and asking them how they are taking no time at all. With virtual coaching, you have to consciously think about reaching out to your employees. It’s easy to forget to touch base with them because you aren’t actually looking at them. So making a habit of reaching out to each one as often as you can will really help.
Methods of Virtual Interactions
Virtual interactions should be prioritized in the following way:
- Video Conferencing
- Phone Conversations
- Chat Conversations
Video conferences mimics face-to-face interactions the closest, so if this option is available, it’s important to utilize it. If you are unfamiliar with Zoom, you can find several tutorials on YouTube about usage, attendance, and hosting to make the most of each coaching conversation. Be creative in your solutions! If you and your contact center agent don’t have the ability to use Zoom, other platforms may be available that you can use on your phone (off of the floor to ensure PCI compliance). Facebook Messenger, Skype, FaceTime, and GoogleDuo are available on most major smartphones and are great solutions if one party or another doesn’t have a webcam.
Phone conversations are a great alternative to video conferencing if our contact center agents don’t have a webcam or access to video conferencing software. Ask leading and open-ended questions to build rapport with your team members. The information you obtain from the agent not only helps you build trust, but it can build loyalty with this agent. A primary function of your duties will be to provide professional recommendations to your agent as an educated advocate for them.
It is highly discouraged to provide coaching through a chat platform. However, following up on the goals you set are a great way of letting your team members know that they are valuable and important. When you set a SMART Goal with a sales and customer service agent, you could chat with them the following questions to remind them of their goal and encourage them:
- How is your SMART Goal working for you?
- When were you able to apply your SMART Goal today?
- How did it make you feel when you were successful?
- What struggles or issues did you come across when applying your SMART Goal?
Remember to keep coaching smart, learning smart, and continue WINNING SMART.
To learn more about RDI Connect, contact us!