Wouldn’t it be great if our leaders all knew how to coach their people and bring out their best?
“Well, we don’t really need that at our level, but if you want to do some coaching in the call centre, that’s fine.” said the CEO to the Senior Manager of Customer Service.
A 12-month coach training programme was delivered for the quality coaching team in an online bank’s contact centre. The aim being to change the existing coaching process. Moving from a process where each customer service representative would spend an hour each week with a ‘coach’, going through their numbers and telling them what to do in the following week, to an ask conversation, with the quality coach asking each individual, what do you aspire to for the coming week? How would you like to own and improve your own performance? What are you hoping to learn or achieve?
I worked with this group of eight quality coaches over a 12-month period to elevate their understanding of what coaching is, why it’s important, and how to introduce it into their organisation. They embraced this opportunity with gusto.
This program was so successful that the call centre representatives, who had previously only enjoyed their coaching because it gave them an hour off the phone from customers, were now eager to go to their coaching sessions. They wanted to share how much progress they had made and what they were looking to do next.
There were clear gains throughout the 12-month learning period. However, to clearly measure the results, once the coach training programme had concluded, the call centre statistics were measured for the following 3 months and compared to the results from the period prior to the program. Within these three months, the programme had more than paid for itself.
The statistics showed outcomes like, incredible increases in first call resolution – more than double; much higher levels of customer engagement; and lower levels of customer complaint – less than a third.
Not only were the individual representatives in the call centre being coached, they also introduced a coaching approach when working with their customers. They used the GROW framework as a way of engaging customers in the solution to their particular challenges and problems – the reason the customers had called customer service in the first place.
In fact, the program results were so remarkable that instead of having weekly coaching sessions, the sessions were dropped back to fortnightly because this was all that was now required to support excellent performance and improvements.
Then there were the bonus outcomes.
As you probably know, retention of talent in call centres is challenging. There is a lot of turnover. Rather than accepting this as the norm, this group of young quality coaches decided they would add another layer of coaching to increase retention.
They added regular career coaching into their offering within customer service, and the call centre in particular, with the idea to create a next step. Creating career path options for the well performing customer service representatives into other parts of the business. Taking their incredible frontline knowledge with them into the rest of the business.
So this programme of developing coaching knowledge and skills in a small group of 8 people, resulted in a far bigger impact than the original program objectives.
This programme was so successful, the team leaders within customer service realised they would benefit from coaching too. This also proved incredibly successful.
We began this program with a focus on the lower levels of the organisational hierarchy. Creating exposure to coaching principles and adopting more of a coaching culture in terms of the way they did things. One where:
- we ask
- we invite people into the conversation
- we have positive intent
- we have an elevated level of listening
- individuals take personal responsibility and accountability
- we create opportunity
The statistical results spoke for themselves. Additionally, now the organisation was retaining the very knowledgeable people from customer service. People who knew the products. People who knew the customers. Creating opportunities to include these people into the rest of the business. So not only did we see increased retention and reduced turnover, the organisation also retained invaluable knowledge and corporate wisdom.
The icing on the cake was when the executive team of the organisation approached the quality coaches for executive coaching. They changed their perspective from, “No, we don’t need to be involved in this. No, we don’t need this. We have everything we need in our toolkit,” to, “Hey, we’d like to have some of this coaching opportunity for ourselves.”
Imagine the impact of bringing out the best of your senior and executive leaders by using a coaching approach. Imagine if they integrated a coaching approach into their leadership.
When I talk about equipping leaders with coaching skills, I am talking about all levels of leaders. I will start wherever I can, because the results of introducing a coaching approach will create the momentum to facilitate big change. To change and transform an organisation. To change perspective. To open up conversations, and to create opportunity.
If these are the measures that something is important, on so many levels this was a successful programme. It paved the way for many other opportunities to be pursued, and to continue to grow and develop the people within this organisation.
I am proud of it.
What I want you to realise though, is that we started small with eight people. These eight people created a wave of change in an organisation so that it reshaped the approach to customer service.
It reshaped the approach to leadership, and it reshaped the opportunity for every individual within the organisation. And you can only imagine the benefits that were experienced by the customers, by the stakeholders, and by each individual themselves.
Imagine if you had an opportunity like this, or a bigger one, that started higher up the organisation with a coaching leadership approach. What difference might that make?
Why aren’t you coaching yet?
I’d love to know your thoughts.
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