Coach teenagers like you coach contact center agents

Coach teenagers like you coach contact center agents

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My only child turned 14 last week. You can likely relate to the way in which she can make this educated person feel pretty inept at times. All day long I use customer experience data to predict behavior and to provide fair and trusted performance evaluations for contact center agents. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could coach teenagers like you coach contact center agents (and feel good about the process)?

I’ve been gathering data points about teenagers to learn more about how I can effectively communicate with her. I need more data. It’s certainly not as easy as when she was six years old! Now she has her own opinions and is learning how to process her thoughts and to make decisions as an independent person.

When I read Gary Chapman’s book, “The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively”, I discovered several things that will help me with my teenager but many things also ring true with agents and how we coach these individuals. This similarity should not be a surprise to you since you’ve probably felt that you were the parent to the agents in your center!

My daughter has what Chapman calls a love tank and I am one of the people who needs to fill this for her. Without words and behavior that fill her tank, unhappiness and trouble ensues. Tips on how to fill her tank with the five love languages was very helpful to me and I’m trying.

But reading this book made me think about my own love tank and how it easily runs dry. In general, adults are not great about filling each other’s tanks and agents in contact centers have their tanks drained every day by customers, supervisors, and managers.

When Customers Grade The Call, the resulting analysis is critical to the general management of the center. Necessary changes at a macro level are proved through the analytics of the performance evaluations from customers which then becomes highly effective information for the teams.

customers-grade-the-callsEach team has different strengths and weaknesses and by drilling down into the results, specific paths for performance improvement (as per the callers) are highlighted. Coaching with the customer performance evaluations is where you can help to refill their love tanks.

Love Language #1 – Words of Affirmation

Sincere praise adds to one’s love tank, whereas negative comments are a drain. When Customers Grade The Call, it’s critical to gather suggestions from the caller but also to gather compliments. Coaching with these report cards is more effective when there are praise-worthy items to off-set the coachable service disappointments:

“I was very pleased with my call today.  My representative, Amy, was extremely nice to me.  She treated me like a friend.  Like a very valued customer.  I appreciated that.  I would certainly go back to your company because I was treated very, very well.  Thank you.”

“First of all, you don’t stand behind the product.  If I purchased a car from you guys, and you have a record that I’ve had a history of having issues with car, you should at least stand by the initial obligation.  I’m not asking for a refund for the raggedy car I got. You don’t understand the value of customer service.”

Love Language #2 – Physical Touch

While we can hug our teenagers, it’s not a workplace technique that we use. However, high fives to celebrate great scores or praising comments is certainly encouraged. Handshakes are another form of acceptable touch in the workplace. Begin coaching sessions with a handshake and work in a high five to celebrate great customer evaluations.

Love Language #3 – Quality Time

With busy schedules and sometimes too many agents on a team it make the Quality Time Love Language a challenge. It goes without saying that time with an agent should be dedicated to him or her, meaning no multi-tasking. Always maintain eye contact and listen for expressions of feelings in order to express your understanding of what is being said.

Do not interrupt to insert your own thoughts and ideas. It’s surprising to learn that the average insertion of your own thoughts happens in 17 seconds. Pay attention to your agent’s expressions of thoughts and feelings and let them know that you understand their perspective. You value them and have a perspective to share with them regarding a particular call.

Love Language #4 – Acts of Service

Well, obviously we take care of our teenagers with all of the things it takes to run a household but those acts of service are not to be held over them as if we are being punished by doing their laundry. We teach them how to do things for themselves by showing them and we should not bribe them to perform, meaning that they do not get ice cream or get a ride to a friend’s house for cleaning their room. Rewarding behavior like showing up for work does not fill the agent’s love tank. Helping them with a challenging situation, assignment to a special project, and celebrating successes as they represent the company do fill their tank.

Love Language #5 – Gifts

Gifts are not bribes, but are given to show emotional love. With our agents, gifts show an appreciation for the relationship. The great thing about gifts is that it can be a small token and are given with a ceremony or in private. Thoughtful items given without strings attached fill their love tank. Make some coupons for some special little thing and stock up on some fun little items from the Dollar Store to use as gifts. Random acts of kindness in the contact center go a long way.

The presence of a teenager in a home has a dramatic impact on everyone else’s happiness. Much like an agent has a dramatic impact on peers, callers, and the management team. Pay attention to everyone’s love tank and do what you can to help them to keep it full, or at least not running on empty.

About Dr. Jodie Monger

Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the president of Customer Relationship Metrics and a pioneer in voice of the customer research for the contact center industry. Before creating CRMetrics, she was the founding associate director of Purdue University’s Center for Customer-Driven Quality.

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