How to Coach a Customer Service Representative (Free Guide)

One of the most important parts of any manager or team leader’s job is helping their team members grow in their careers and perform at their very best.

This is especially important in the world of customer service, where agents are viewed as the face and voice of your business to customers, and less than stellar interactions can have a detrimental impact on your company’s bottom line.

In fact, according to research from American Express, more than half of Americans have pulled the plug on completing a purchase or transaction because of bad service, and 33% have reported that they’ve considered switching companies after just one negative interaction with a support team.

No pressure, right?

We know coaching isn’t always the easiest part of a team leader’s job. That’s why we’ve put together some of our favorite tips to make your 1:1s actionable, ensure your agent feels respected and heard, and gives you concrete ways to keep them on the right track.

How to Coach a Customer Service Representative

Show Confidence in Your Agent and Their Skills

You know your agents are capable of correcting performance issues and are eager to improve. But you need to show this in the way you coach.

Setting a collaborative tone will lead to better outcomes and pave the way for more productive customer service coaching sessions in the future.

Show your agents that you understand how much work they do, that you see the thought and care they bring to each interaction, and that you recognize how tough it is to be on the frontline of a business.

Build them up when you have the opportunities to do so, and make it clear that you trust them to bring their A-game each and every day.

Give Them First-Hand Access to Their Feedback

Imagine going into a 1:1 with your manager with no insight into your own performance – no metrics to look at, no positive commentary to reference – nothing.

For many front-line customer service representatives, this was the norm. They had little visibility into how they were performing, and certainly no way to reference customer commentary on their performance to show their manager just how great their calls were going.

At Stella Connect, we’ve taken an agent-centered approach to customer feedback. When customer feedback comes in, each agent is set up with their own personal feedback stream. From brand new team members to more senior reps, every individual can keep an eye on their personal feedback and the metrics that matter to them, to your organization, and to your business.

For front-line agents at FabFitFun, keeping their Stella Connect feedback stream always in view on a second screen has become the norm.

“I actually see it as I’m walking through the floor, people being motivated and excited about these ratings they’re getting. The negative feedback is not as pleasant, but it’s an opportunity for them to get motivated to do better.” – Caitlin Logan, FabFitFun’s Director of Customer Experience. 

For agents, negative customer feedback isn’t a deterrent; rather, it’s an extra burst of motivation to go even more above and beyond for the next customer they interact with. Plus, when it comes to coaching customer service representatives, it makes your job a whole lot easier.

With Stella Connect, agents can not only keep a pulse on their own performance in real-time, but can spot trends in their feedback to help them implement self-correcting behaviors right away, creating a more engaged and higher-performing agent in the process.

Engage in Micro-Coaching Moments

While having set time each week or every other week to talk about performance, a strict 1:1 schedule may not be the best fit for every single agent or team lead.

That’s why we recommend taking your coaching strategy a step further and implementing micro-coaching.

Micro-coaching, or coaching in short bursts, is one of the most effective forms of customer service coaching. In these impromptu sessions, managers pull agents aside to discuss specific, real-time performance data, making the session both personal and actionable for the agent.

At brands like Kijiji, Brooklinen, and RevZilla, teams utilize micro-coaching to tackle service issues as they arise.

Say goodbye to waiting until days after an interaction when the agent’s memory might be foggy, and instead review poor customer feedback reviews as soon as they appear to set course-correct immediately and set them up for success in their next interaction.

Get 9 actionable ways to take your coaching program to the next level with our latest guide, Customer Service Coaching Plan: 9 Tips for How to Coach More Successful Agents.

Use Data to Guide the Conversation

At Stella Connect, we believe the best and most effective coaching is coaching that is based on context.

With Stella Connect 1:1s, team leads have the ability to bring real-time, agent-level metrics directly into their 1:1 conversations.

You’ll be able to get a quick view of overall agent performance in relation to the metrics that matter most to your team, like CSAT or FCR, and then drill down deeper into specific customer interactions without ever leaving the 1:1 environment.

Plus, when you’re coaching an agent, you want to make sure you’re coaching on solid ground.

By basing the session on a call you listened to, customer feedback, or other performance data tied to a specific interaction, the session immediately becomes more meaningful and more impactful.

Implement a GROW Strategy

The GROW model of coaching was developed during the 1980s by three business coaches named Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore. 

This model seeks to simplify the complexity of coaching (and being coached) by helping people clearly articulate their aspirations and plans for the future.

GROW stands for:

  • Goal: What do you want to achieve?
  • Reality: Where are you now?
  • Options: What could you do?
  • Will: What will you do?

With the GROW model, you can have meaningful conversations about what your agent wants to achieve, like a certain CSAT or QA score, and help them discover the things they need to do to make those goals a reality.

By focusing on agents’ personal aspirations (not just high-level corporate objectives), you’ll not only serve your brand’s strategic interests, but also challenge and inspire your team.

End on a Positive Note

Everyone loves to feel appreciated at work, and we all know that working on the frontline of any business is not without its fair share of challenges and tough days.

Use your coaching and 1:1 time to really show your appreciation for the hard work your agents do every day to represent the brand. 

With Stella Connect 1:1s, you can easily give kudos to your agents on a job well done. Kudos are your opportunity to shout out wins and accomplishments, and an opportunity to say thank you to your team members for their hard work.

Using this feature will help you celebrate your teams’ successes, knowledge or expertise, effort, or prowess for demonstrating your company’s values, and will serve to remind them of their essential role and their value to the team and the company.

With some team members still working from home, the ability to provide positive reinforcement is an asset to team leaders looking to boost morale and ensure their agents feel supported and appreciated.

Coaching Customer Service Representatives in 2021 and Beyond

Don’t let your agents’ growth be put on the backburner. Invest in their success with customer service coaching and training programs built to help them take their skills, and careers, to the next level.

Get even more insight on how to coach your customer service representatives with our latest guide, Customer Service Coaching Plan: 9 Tips for How to Coach More Successful Agents.

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