Your vendor’s coaching capabilities, why you need to care?

In this post, I chose to talk about the most important piece that will determine the success of your outsourced contact center engagement.

Your outsourced partner’s employee coaching framework and capabilities

Often times in the outsourcing world, the business reviews are filled with strategies, roadmap and other higher level discussions leaving the actual agent performance and coaching for the front line managers to figure out.

How can I ever forget the first coaching session I received when I was a call center agent 16 years back, my first experience in the contact center world? Three months after I started working at a call center, one team leader met me during dinner and said “Bala, meet me in my office when you get back from dinner”. So, I did. (We worked night shifts so dinner at office started the workday.)

A few minutes later in his office,

“So, Bala I listened to a couple of your calls, I think you are doing OK. But, you have to work on your call handle time, it’s way too high, OK?”

And I nodded my head “yes sir”.

He wrapped up the session, “I have updated your action plan in PEX, make sure you review and acknowledge that we discussed your performance. OK?”

And here I go again “Yes sir”.

That concluded my 3 minutes and 25 seconds coaching session (Obviously, I am exaggerating but it wasn’t any longer than that). By the way, PEX was a tool that was used then for documenting team lead and agent coaching sessions. PEX stands for performance excellence.

When I got my back my desk and started reviewing the PEX summary, little did I know that I will end up using the notes I saw in PEX as an example for years to come. The notes in PEX read:

  • Performance summary: Employee doing fine on calls but handle time too high.
  • Action plan: Reduce handle time immediately

Well, Well, Well….

While the contact center industry has come a long way in terms of employee performance management, coaching capabilities and infrastructure compared to 16 years back. It is still seems like a challenge. A BIG ONE!

The outsourcing partners today bring in great technical capabilities, process improvement, performance transformation practices etc. as a part of their portfolio and it is very important to evaluate and understand these factors before you outsource your service engagement.

But, beyond the infrastructural and process management capabilities, to make your outsourced customer service program successful there is one factor that I consider to be the most critical one. Your potential outsourced partner’s employee coaching framework, capabilities and senior leadership’s investment in making effective coaching the heart of the overall operating framework.

Let’s face it, the outsourced contact center industry has one of the highest attrition trends compared to its peers, especially in strategic offshore locations (India & The Philippines). This makes learning, development & coaching of the customer service agents a critical piece in the service your customers will receive. The turnover rate at the team lead level also poses significant challenges to effective coaching & performance management

Some of the key questions to consider in understanding the coaching framework and capabilities are:

  • What is the coaching framework?
  • How the employee coaching tracked and documented?
  • How is the coaching effectiveness evaluated?
  • What on going programs are in place to improve coaching effectiveness?
  • What is the “coach the coach” program framework?
  • What is the senior leadership’s involvement in the overall coaching framework?

These are not just questions for RFPs or potential outsourced partners but should be an integral part of the existing client – partner relationship, given the criticality of employee coaching’s impact on the service provided to your customers.

With that said; Can you answer the above questions about coaching framework for your organization? Do you have a coaching framework in your organization? Can you articulate it? If not, this could the biggest business challenge you have to overcome.

About the Author: For more information, contact Balakarthik Venkataramanan at LinkedIn Profile:

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