In your business, anyone who answers the phone is a key part of your sales team. A phone handler gives your customers their first impression of your company. Part of your call handler’s goal is “selling” themselves and your business to book an appointment that contributes to the business’ bottom line.
Telephone performance and results should be top priorities for anyone answering the phone. If your team is not yet giving you the results you expect, or if you want your team members to improve proficiency and performance, you should consider coaching your staff.
Budget for employee training and coaching is a consideration. Hiring a 3rd party means making an investment. Often, business owners or managers cut corners appoint and internal management to take on the role of “call coach.”
Consider why you value your manager. Is he or she doing a good job? Will adding an additional heavy lift (when done correctly) like call management and coaching add value to his or her job or will it cause other functions to suffer? Outside, experienced call coaches exist to help businesses who do not have the expertise or time to manage their call handlers’ progress over time. Before you take on call coaching in-house, consider some of the following reasons.
Overcoming Challenges for Effective Coaching
Improvement means change; change takes effort. There are three main challenges to be overcome for effective coaching. Each challenge requires an investment of time and effort from the coach and coached.
A trained coach can address phone handling skill gaps through experience in listening to specific cues during a phone call and engaging the call handler to improve skills during each session. When a manager who is unskilled in call coaching must listen and re-listen to phone calls to identify skill gaps. Listening to phone calls requires time, developing a curriculum for skill development also requires a lot of time. True coaching is an ongoing process and requires a commitment and consistency on the part of coach and the phone handler. Call coaching session should take place weekly and last 15-30 minutes.
Let’s go over three hurdles that must be overcome to engage true improvement in employees’ call handling skills. Stay tuned for next week’s article for the number one hurdle, and what the required management processes and skills to be a successful call coach is.
3. The environment
Employees and their call coach may have conflicting priorities, time constraints, and a lack of support.
Adding another responsibility to management’s schedule and employees’ can create tension for all involved. Managers committed to coaching employees need to prepare for each coaching session. This means a manager must review phone calls, identifying skill gaps, create an action plan as well as a review of last week’s goals every week. This is on top of an already full schedule. Managers can find the commitment daunting as priorities may shift, triggering scheduling issues. This is counterproductive for keeping a consistent coaching schedule, which is imperative for effective coaching.
Athletes don’t miss regularly scheduled practices and still expect to improve. The same is true for call coaching.
2. The human factor
Another hurdle that managers who try to coach their employees will face is the human factor. This includes a lack of commitment, understanding, skills, initiative, and resistance to change.
Commitment must be followed through with on both the manager and employee’s part. As already mentioned, managers have a copious amount of duties on their plate –it is vital that management must be able to take on an additional responsibility of call coach for it to work. This means they will have to be trained to understand how to properly coach call handlers, develop the skills needed and keep up with their initiative. Some of the managers’ duties may need to shift to someone else or reprioritized.
Employees may be resistant to call coaching as an additional responsibility. Adding a new program requires human change management. Your call coaching program must be well crafted before you attempt to implement it. Poor implementation can create a hostile work environment where call handler does not feel trusted to fulfill his/her responsibilities.
But it doesn’t end there…subscribe to our blog and find out next week what the number one obstacle for managers trying to coach their own employees. We promise it’ll help you in your endeavors.