Coaching during COVID: 6 steps to engaging remote reps

By John Gardner


Coaching during COVID: 6 steps to engaging remote reps

Keeping reps engaged is always a top priority for call centers. But during the pandemic, it has become a lot more challenging, forcing site supervisors to rethink how they motivate their people.


Normally, supervisors spend their days walking the call center floor, listening to reps interact with customers, and encouraging positive behavior through leader boards and informal moments of coaching. But now that most reps are working from home, this culture of reactive, face-to-face performance management isn’t possible. And that’s a problem.


Turnover in call centers already averages 33%, in large part due to lack of engagement and insufficient training. The isolation of remote work threatens to increase these risks, while simultaneously making it difficult for leaders to determine who’s thriving and who needs additional support.


Fortunately, supervisors can circumvent these risks and increase remote engagement by leveraging the data tracking, and coaching tools available in their performance management platform. But to do that they need to rethink how they engage and train these workers, and how they track their results.


How to coach remote reps

Industry leaders know that behavior drives outcomes. The more call center reps are trained on those desired behaviors, the more successful they will be. This is true whether reps are sitting in a call center or at their own dining room table.


But now that reps are remote, call centers need to be more intentional in their coaching techniques.


While many supervisors still rely on an ad hoc approach to coaching – offering advice when they see a rep struggling or a team missing its goals -- the most successful supervisors take a data-driven approach to coaching. They establish a formal schedule for one-on-one sessions, and use trend reports to identify individual coaching needs, using key performance indicators (KPIs) to set coaching agendas and to track progress over time.


By attaching trend data, structure, and KPIs to every coaching engagement, supervisors gain visibility over the performance of every team member, and reps know exactly what’s expected of them and what they need to improve.


This approach was a best practice before the pandemic, but now it’s critical if call centers want to keep their remote people motivated and on track.


For supervisors who are trying to find their coaching cadence in a remote work environment, our experts compiled these tips.


  1. Use performance data to prioritize coaching.
    Just as you might spend more time with reps who you see struggling in the call center, you can use performance reports, rep rankings, and KPIs generated through your performance management platform to determine which remote reps require more immediate or frequent attention. Building coaching around trend data ensures you put your efforts where they are most needed.
  2. Tie performance data to individual coaching plans.
    Before every coaching session, review trend reports to see overall team performance and how that individual’s results measure up, then show the rep those results at the start of each session. This data-driven approach is an objective way to show reps where they are excelling and where they can improve, which can reduce the risk of pushback and encourage positive change.
  3. Document every coaching interaction.
    To generate the most value from these interactions, use the digital supervisor log to record your goals and outcomes for each coaching session. Include the KPIs to address, concerns raised by you or your rep during the call, and your goals for the coming week/month. This documentation provides an easily accessible history of coaching, which you can compare to the rep’s results over time to determine whether your coaching methods are working.
  4. Invite coaching feedback.
    Following each coaching sessions, invite reps to rate the session and offer feedback through automated surveys. This continuous feedback loop will help you vet your impact, and identify ways to improve.
  5. Track progress.
    Between coaching sessions, set reminders to review each rep’s progress against KPIs. This will help you determine who needs more immediate follow-ups, and will inform goals for future coaching sessions.
  6. Send tips and updates between calls.
    Use automated messages between coaching sessions to encourage the coached behavior, celebrate improvements, and reinforce the training. This will ensure reps don’t lose focus between engagements, and it lets them know that you are invested in their success.

Even when this pandemic ends, remote work will likely be a permanent part of the call center environment. Figuring out how to engage and coach these remote workers will help you lower turnover and foster behaviors that deliver better results.


To learn how TouchPoint One’s Acuity performance management platform and Sidekick supervisor coaching system can help you improve your coaching techniques, please contact me at jgardner@touchpointone.com.


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