Guest Post by Melissa Kovacevic

After this client and I had listened to a particularly bad vendor presentation together, during which the vendor discussed every feature except the one that the client had specifically asked about, my client simply turned to me and said:

“I always tell my sales people, no one ever lost a sale by listening”.

How appropriate for the poor sales effort we had just observed.  How appropriate for coaches who are fixated on “telling” instead of listening.

Many of our contact center coaches have training backgrounds or have acted as mentors with new agents before being promoted to a Quality Analyst or Supervisor role involving coaching.  There are many advantages to having that training experience, but as some have shared with me, there are negatives as well.

If the style of training they used was in a classroom focused on lecturing on products, procedures and policies, or telling an agent how to do the specific skills in a side by side mentoring situation, some find themselves bringing those telling focused methods into their coaching activities as well.

New coaches need us to help guide them with more than just a checklist of to-do’s or skills to coach.

One new coach I worked with recently told me that she had just realized that since her promotion to that role, she had been focused on telling.  She thought her goal was to explain, tell and make sure the agent repeated what had been taught. She had been asking few questions to find out what the agent thought, how they thought the customer felt during the interactions monitored, or why the agent used the skills that they did, whether good or bad.

Why are questions so important to our coaching activities?

  • Questions help our session to be more interactive
  • Questions help us to learn what is driving certain agent skills and behaviors
  • Questions help us to learn what agents know or don’t know about our products, processes, policies and expectations for customer experience
  • Questions help us plan an effective “action plan” to help the agent improve and feel motivated to continue to improve
  • Questions help agents feel a part of the solution if skills are a problem.

Teach your coaches how to ask great questions.  And be sure to ask them some questions about their coaching skills too!

Melissa Kovacevic is a  Customer Experience and Contact Center Consultant.  She has partnered with Contact Centers and Retail Service clients since 1983, helping them to develop strategies, operational processes and skills to successfully blend People, Process and Technology for Customer Experience success.  Her results-based “Coach the Coach” program for service and sales leaders focuses on real world “on the job” skills coaching with participants and development of quality monitoring processes and tools. Melissa’s articles have been published in Contact Center industry publications and blogs worldwide.
You can connect with Melissa on her website:  And you can follow Melissa on her Blog: Customer Service Power…Turn it On!

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