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Everything You Need To Know About Customer Service Coaching

customer service coaching
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If you want to deliver exceptional customer service (Customer Service), you need to coach your support agents.

Your customer service agents have a big impact on your customer experience (CX). Without them, who will resolve issues quickly enough to turn unhappy customers into satisfied ones?

In fact, for every $1 a company spends on a better customer experience, there’s a $3 return. This is why you should invest in coaching your agents. It’s the gateway to better CX.

If you’re already gathering insights into your Customer Service, that’s great! But it’s pointless if you don’t use this information to improve agent performance through coaching.

In this guide, we take you through what customer service coaching is, how to get it right, and our top tips for running successful sessions.

What Is Customer Service Coaching?

customer service coaching
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Customer service coaching is developing programs and strategies that provide agents with specific feedback. It’s also about giving them tangible tactics that they can use to improve their performance. 

 

The difference between customer service training and coaching

Customer service training is typically general and teaches overall principles. Training is aimed at new agents who don’t have experience in customer service at your organization.

An example of a customer service training program would be to provide all new agents with the basic skills to handle a complaint by understanding more about your products and services as well as general issues they can expect to see. 

 

Coaching, on the other hand, is more individualized and caters to specific issues and agents. It ensures that customer support principles are continuously implemented in real-world situations.

Coaching is more about tackling where an experienced agent may be struggling—like if their customer interactions regularly end with a negative sentiment or they repeatedly struggle to resolve a particular issue.

 

 

How customer service coaching can be delivered

Customer service coaching is usually done by experienced and knowledgeable Customer Service managers or senior agents.

Coaching can be undertaken in a variety of formats, each one with its own benefits:

  • Individual coaching sessions: This is when one agent receives training specific to their performance and needs. Keep in mind that agents might feel more at ease in an individual session, making it easier for them to speak openly about what they may be struggling with. Individual coaching also allows you to tailor your sessions to the specific agent and their needs.
  • Group coaching sessions: In this scenario, you would provide slightly more general coaching relevant to a group of agents with the same performance feedback. Group coaching is good for updates that affect everyone, ensuring they implement new procedures correctly.
  • Online coaching: If you have a virtual team, you could provide them with live online sessions. Training sessions could also be offered in a format that allows agents to work through them at their own pace online.
  • Peer-to-peer coaching: This is when a more experienced agent—or one who excels in a particular area—coaches another agent. An experienced agent might be well-versed in quickly turning tickets around— knowledge your team would benefit from.
  • Self-directed coaching: You could design a program for your customer service representatives where they can independently reflect on their performance and make improvements.
customer service coaching
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Why Is Customer Service Coaching Important?

There are several reasons why you can’t afford to neglect customer service coaching. Coaching helps you:

✅ Deliver better customer service

Coaching helps your agents become better at their jobs. Better customer service leads to higher customer satisfaction scores, potentially helping you retain more customers.

customer service coaching
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✅ Go beyond training

While it’s important that your agents receive training, they must also be able to apply what they have learned in real-world customer interactions. 

There’s a difference between knowing something and implementing it. This is what coaching can achieve.  

 

✅ Align your team

Coaching ensures your team performs processes and procedures consistently.

Additionally, your agents should be working toward clear and measurable shared goals. A lack of specific and tangible objectives leads to confusion and inconsistency.

It’s important to dedicate a part of your coaching sessions to defining what success looks like for your customer support agents individually and as a team.

 

✅ Improve employee retention

Coaching improves agents’ abilities to resolve customer issues, which may mean they enjoy their jobs more. 

If you provide them with targeted coaching, you empower them to de-escalate customer complaints quickly, which means that they may experience greater job satisfaction in addition to a better overall CX. 

This approach can help you retain good employees and ensure they develop in their careers.

What Makes a Customer Service Coaching Program Great?

customer service coaching
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You now know why customer service coaching is important, but how do you ensure you deliver good coaching? Here are some essentials:


👍 Implement a quality assurance (QA) program

A quality assurance program is where you constantly collect data from across your customer service team. You analyze this data to find opportunities to improve your customer service interactions.

There are two reasons why you need a solid quality assurance (QA) program before you can deliver agent coaching:

Reviewing Customer Service interactions: You need a process to review Customer Service interactions to pinpoint where your agents need support—a QA program provides this. It will also help you identify broader business issues relating to your product and procedures.

Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs): QA programs also track customer service KPIs. You can use coaching to improve them. One KPI you could set is first contact resolution, which is how often customer issues are resolved within their first interaction with your agents. Another KPI that might be important to you is average handle time, which is how quickly your tickets are handled by your agents.

 

👍 Arrange regular coaching sessions

Conducting irregular or sporadic coaching sessions can make your entire program ineffective. Instead, you should hold regular, scheduled sessions to maintain improvement.

⭐️ Top Tip: Listen to Your Agents

When scheduling your coaching sessions, ask your agents ahead of time what they need help with. What problems are they facing? What makes it difficult for them to provide the best service?

👍 Track agent progress

How do you know whether your coaching is paying off? By tracking your agents’ progress. 

If you notice an agent is struggling to handle tickets quickly and—after some coaching—this is improving, you know your coaching program is effective.

On the other hand, if you notice that this same agent isn’t making progress in their average handling time, you know you need to provide them with further coaching.

👍 Make training a part of career development

Agents need to know and understand how coaching benefits them. It shouldn’t just be a compulsory session to attend. 

Instead, agents should know that your coaching is intended to help them progress in their roles and that it forms part of your wider career development program.

This insight may make them less fearful of criticism and more open to your feedback.

👍 Use an AI-powered platform

An intuitive Customer Service insights and Quality Assurance platform like Loris can help you implement a coaching program based on all your customer service data from all your interactions, rather than just samples. 

Loris gives you real-time data and helps track and score interactions so that you can develop training for your agents that will make the biggest impact.

👍 Reward good agent performance

If your performance data reveals that agents are doing well, they should be rewarded for this. This could include incentives, raises, or promotions.

Rewarding your agents for good performance helps them stay motivated. It also encourages them to make the most out of their coaching sessions rather than viewing them negatively.

Our Top Customer Service Coaching Tips

customer service coaching
Source: Freepik

We’re dedicated to giving you the Customer Service insights you need to provide your agents with the best coaching. Here are our top tips for getting your coaching right:


➡️ Use the most recent interactions

Let’s say a customer service agent has made the same error on two calls—one three weeks ago and one today. There’s no point in trying to coach them on a call from over 20 days ago when they deal with hundreds of interactions per week. They likely won’t remember much about the call, and it would be counterproductive to provide them with feedback so much later down the line.

However, if you coach them about an interaction that’s just taken place, your feedback is more likely to help them improve their customer service. They can also start implementing your feedback right away.

A conversational intelligence and quality assurance platform like Loris helps you identify the most recent interactions where your agents could benefit from coaching. This saves you from having to find examples of messages, emails, or calls that went wrong.


➡️ Keep sessions short and simple

If your coaching sessions last an entire day, there’s a chance that most of your agents won’t retain what you’re teaching them. In fact, studies show that shorter training modules improve information retention by 20%.

If you have a lot to cover, try breaking your coaching sessions into chunks over several days. This makes your coaching easier for agents to digest, remember, and implement in customer interactions.

Another tip is to keep coaching sessions focused. Each session should have a singular goal or objective rather than trying to cover all the issues you’ve recently identified.


➡️ Be a critical friend

You should use your sessions to celebrate what agents have done right and encourage further improvement.

You can still keep the session positive even if criticism needs to be communicated. You can do this by mentioning any progress made and letting your agents know they’re improving.

Focusing solely on negative feedback impacts their confidence and brings down team morale. Finding a balance between negative and positive feedback in your coaching sessions is vital.

⭐️ Top Tip: Check In with Your Agents

Use your coaching sessions as an opportunity to gauge how your agents are coping. Check in with them and see how they’re doing. 

You can also use this time to ask them how happy they are in their roles and what you could do to improve their experience at your company. Always remember that your agents are human.

➡️ Identify coaching moments

Coaching that happens immediately after relevant customer interactions can improve agent performance by 12%.

Loris automatically scores customer interactions based on what needs improvement and what has gone well. This helps you in two ways:

  1. You can incorporate references to these conversations into your broader coaching as examples.
  2. You can speak to agents directly after a customer interaction so that they know how they can improve based on a recent example.

 

➡️ Micro-coach your team

Micro-coaching is when you identify interactions that could’ve gone better and then provide your agents with feedback right away. This approach could decrease the need of having to plan monthly, quarterly, or annual coaching sessions.

You can micro-coach your agents by identifying when they need support in the moment, rather than waiting for a formal coaching session to help them do better.

⭐️ Top Tip: Micro-Coach, Don’t Micro-Manage

While micro-coaching is an excellent way to provide feedback in the moment, you don’t want your agents to feel like they’re being micro-managed. 

Ensure that you deliver your coaching in a way that fosters a positive environment, not one where your agents fear you’re constantly monitoring them.

➡️ Coach your coaches

A high-performing agent might be one of the best people to coach the rest of your team. Your agents might learn and retain more if their coaching is delivered by a peer.

However, your high-performers might not know how to go about coaching others. You may need to provide them with training so that they can develop suitable programs and coach other agents effectively.

 

➡️ Treat agents as the solution

There are two ways to look at performance issues when it comes to your agents. Either they’re the problem causing poor performance within your customer service center—or, they’re the solution to improving your Customer Experience.

When you treat your agents as the solution to your challenges, you can work together to provide a better customer experience. Your agents have huge potential, and upskilling them is a good way to solve your customer service challenges.

3 Customer Service Coaching Mistakes to Avoid

customer service coaching
Source: Freepik

Now that you know how to run effective customer service coaching, here are some mistakes to avoid the next time you deliver a session:

 

❌ Relying on generalized, partial, or random data

Your coaching may not be effective if it’s based on a sample of your customer interactions—which would make it less representative.

Instead, you need a way to analyze all your customer interactions and then pinpoint the ones that are most impactful. This gives you the complete information you need to understand how your team is performing and where individual agents can improve.

A conversational intelligence and quality assurance platform like Loris provides data to address team-wide performance issues. This gives you the actionable insights you need to give your agents individual feedback on how they’re handling customer interactions.  

 

❌ Ignoring support agent needs

A common pitfall of coaching programs is failing to treat your customer service agents as individuals.

Each of your agents has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and your coaching needs to be tailored to them. 

When you’re developing coaching programs and collecting feedback, remember to include sessions that meet the individual needs of agents rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach.

 

❌ Not using a tool that enables you to be objective

If a QA manager or analyst consistently gives an agent low scores, they may feel like they’re being treated unfairly or that the manager is biased. 

With a platform like Loris, you can ensure all your agent interactions are scored objectively, consistently, and fairly—automatically. There are also mechanisms for agents to dispute grading and facilitate calibration. This means agents being scored are on the same page when it comes to interpreting and grading agent performance. 

Some other tools in the QA space don’t necessarily offer this benefit, which may result in your agents not being held to the same standards—or at least feeling that way. 

Get the Right Insights for Your Next Coaching Session with Loris

Coaching customer service agents is crucial if you want to improve your customer experience and retain your customers.

Without specific and clear coaching goals, your agents won’t know where to improve. They won’t know how they can better support your goal of providing excellent customer service.

At Loris, our philosophy is that agents should be coached on their most recent and relevant customer interactions. This helps you quickly address small issues before they become bad habits.

Coaching agents on their most recent interactions can help them improve right away and immediately implement what they’ve learned going forward.

Remember, when it comes to customer service coaching, identifying opportunities for micro-coaching is a powerful strategy. Loris helps you do that (and so much more).

Are you ready to see how Loris can transform how you coach your agents? Visit our website to request a consultation and see why we’re trusted by leading brands worldwide.

Heading to CCW Las Vegas June 4th to 6th? 

Stop by booth #1201 to connect with the Loris team or reserve your time in advance before schedules fill up!