Coaching Dramatically Improves Call Center Performance

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A financial software giant improved contact center employee experience Â? and the bottom line Â? by reinventing its approach to coaching.

A financial software giant improved contact center employee experience — and the bottom line — by reinventing its approach to coaching.

The Problem: Lack of Tools and Employee Dissatisfaction.

In mid-2002, a Mountain View, California-based financial software giant formed an eight-person internal task force to examine coaching and performance management practices. To assess the role these practices played in the employee experience, the task force reviewed the results of “Voice of the Employee” (VOE) surveys, which the company conducts periodically, and held focus groups.

The task force reported that employees were dissatisfied with the quality and quantity of coaching they received, and noted that managers were frustrated by the absence of the tools — and the incentive — they needed to coach effectively.

Renee Starnes, then Senior Manager of Contact Center Development for the company’s four customer service centers and a member of the task force, partnered with her colleagues to select a pilot coaching skills program. With help from Interaction Associates, Inc., a global performance improvement company, she launched what has become one of the most successful human resources initiatives at the company’s Contact Centers.

The Solution: Essentials of Coaching for Managers

After receiving approval to bring Interaction Associates’ Essentials of Coaching for Managers (EOCM) workshop to Contact Centers in Plano, Texas, and Fredericksburg, Virginia, Starnes and Interaction Associates’ Collaboration Consultant Bell Zeidman developed a pilot program. Feedback from participants in the interactive workshop — which uses video simulations, practice sessions, and group discussions to maximize the effectiveness of coaching relationships — was overwhelmingly positive. The successful pilot set the stage to roll out the program in the other sites.

Within 12 months of bringing EOCM to Contact Centers worldwide, more than 300 managers had been trained, and several of Starnes’ colleagues had been licensed to lead the workshop. Starnes also had the opportunity to test the global applicability of the program. “One of our Contact Centers is managed by an outsourcing firm in India. While planning our training sessions for this location, we wondered how effectively the workshop would translate to another culture. Seeing how readily this group of managers embraced the EOCM concepts was amazing.”

RETURN ON INVOLVEMENT: Improved Satisfaction Scores

For Starnes, the results of recent VOE surveys confirm the efficacy of the program. “When Contact Center managers are coaching a lot, their employee satisfaction scores are high. But during our peak season, when managers have less time for coaching, the scores drop. Since managers’ coaching skills are now assessed as part of their year-end performance evaluation, there’s a tremendous incentive to make coaching a top priority.”

Starnes concludes, “I love the EOCM program’s focus on coaching as a relationship-based activity. In most coaching models, the manager is responsible for leading the coaching activities. But with EOCM, the manager and the employee are equal partners. Both parties prepare for coaching meetings because both are responsible for the results.”

Interaction Associates, Inc. is a 36-year-old leader in learning and performance improvement. The firm helps clients build the needed collaborative capability to produce extraordinary results, improve critical business processes, and create and maintain trusting and productive work relationships. More information about Interaction Associates is available on the company’s website at http://www.interactionassociates.com.

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: http://www.HRmarketer.com) on behalf of the company listed above.

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