Coach Bootcamp: A Strategic Approach to Transforming Supervisors Into Coaches in a Call Center Environment

Coach Bootcamp: A Strategic Approach to Transforming Supervisors Into Coaches in a Call Center Environment

Article by Lynn Holmgren, Posted by Chris Rios

 

Dr. W. Edwards Deming, who originated Total Quality Management, said, “It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.” Coach Bootcamp is a transformational approach used to develop frontline leaders; moving them from compliance supervisors into coaches of winning teams.

The role of the coach is the lynchpin in a successful Customer Experience transformation. Call Center leadership must ensure that coaches know the company’s performance expectations and have the information, insight and independence to make the right decisions. But, there’s a critical next step that equips coaches with the ability to help the company succeed.  Supervisors “earn” their stripes through an intensive Coaching Bootcamp Program.

 

Coaching Bootcamp is the 4th iteration of a supervisor to coach curriculum that I have developed with a variety of peers and implemented across 4 different Fortune 500 care operations.

It starts with selecting call center coaches who know the playing field – what skills and traits are essential for quality execution of the company strategy and game plan.  It is a movement from supervision to leadership and very different skills are necessary for success: supervisors “seek compliance through control;” coaches are leaders who “seek commitment to goals and driver performance through influence.”

To start, a full review of current talent bench at the frontline leadership level, using a traditional talent 9-box and last 2 years’ performance, as well as manager observations was completed to enable the senior leadership team to start to identify the gaps in the current state vs the desired state. Particular attention was placed on key characteristics of change leadership, resilience, confidence, emotional intelligence and executive presence.  From this data, cohorts were created, balancing top, middle and lower performers.  Similar to graduate school, another fundamental key was to balance the cohorts across queues and locations to make sure that a variety of points of view were heard.

Strategic Investment in People

Every coach must determine “What does it mean to put my team first so it, in turn, puts the customer first?” The Coach Bootcamp process was created to help answer this question and to ensure alignment with the company’s Mission, Values and align call center performance to enable delivery on the regional strategic direction. Making the Customer Experience easy was a key objective.  This strategy allowed each person to gut check each decision: “…is my action or decision making it easier or harder for the customer—internal or external?” Asking this question allowed coaches to challenge rules and processes, policies and procedures and to give permission for agents to do the same.

The Process

The Call Center leadership team partnered with the company’s Sales, Care HR, PMO and Care operations groups to create a unique Multi-Session Coach Bootcamp comprised of:

  1. Pre-Session Cohort skills assessment
  2. Pre-work preparation for Bootcamp
  3. Coach Bootcamp Experience (1) 2-day session
  4. Inter-session teamwork assignment
  5. A written exam
  6. Coach Bootcamp experience 2—2 day session
  7. An individual project and presentation with panel evaluation by senior leaders

 

Step 1 – skills assessment Pre-Test

The pre-test consists of set of basic business questions designed to understand the level of experience in key components of coaching, data analysis and people skills necessary for a successful transition from a supervisor mentality to a coach.  It was administered via survey. Source of the exam questions was a mix from customer care general knowledge definitions, basic business questions, basic statistics and internal policies and processes.  The results of the cohort performance allowed leadership to tailor the experience to the needs of the cohort.

Step 2 – Pre-Work

Pre-work was designed to prepare the coach for attendance at Coach Bootcamp and aligned to the discussions during the onsite meeting and includes readings, webcasts and facilitated discussion. Readings from The Effortless Experience, Strategic Customer Experience and Customer Experience 3.0 along with professional development work from Strengthsfinder 2.0 and Executive Presence were used.

Step 3 and 6 – On-site experiences

Onsite experiential practice. Coach Bootcamp was a 4-day 2-session (2 days each session) event dedicated to communicating the strategic direction of the company, the value of its products and services, and sharing best practices as well as practicing coaching techniques across a variety of situations.  Coaches from the regions call centers benefitted from meeting face-to-face and sharing best practices. Over several months, coaches from each center met with one another at cross functional locations. Similar to College practicums, coaches worked in cohorts of 5 to practice together and discuss ways to achieve Coach Bootcamp expectations.  In lieu of using outside speakers or facilitators, experienced company leaders and facilitators from within the business and across departments coached the cohort groups in practical exercises and case studies, demonstrating the coach of coaches’ mindset.  This minimized expenses and also provided the Coaches with valuable access to senior leadership, and to build stronger teams and relationships.

Each Bootcamp focused on developing coaching skills such as learning how to motivate teams and using data and statistics to coach more effectively.  For example, active examples of how to “huddles” for succinct updates of pressing issues and analysis of  several simulations of a challenging business situations and practice coaching sessions using real examples taken from recent business challenges.  The Coach Bootcamp process is designed to help coaches view each other as resources across the region, furthered the cultural integration across queues and promoted a deeper sense of community. In a practical way, Coaches are now be able to apply Company strategies and to truly drive a performance culture.

Step 4 – Intersession Teamwork

Each sub-cohort of 5 had inter session work designed to reinforce learnings from the onsite experience and to prepare for the next on site experience. This inter session work also provided opportunities for further team development and informal leadership opportunities in a peer to peer experience.  Each sub-cohort had a manager resource assigned for support.

Step 5 – The Written Exam:

Following Coach Bootcamp, each coach had to pass a written exam. The questions included a variety of topics, such as;

  • Understanding Regional, Call Center and Company strategies;
  • Identification of key leadership roles and responsibilities;
  • Goals and specific measurements;
  • Statistics terminology and graph interpretation;
  • How Wall Street measures success;
  • Understanding and driving change.

 

Step 6 – Coach Bootcamp Panel Review

The Panel Review was by far the most challenging part of the process.  Each coach presented for 30 minutes, to a panel of senior leaders and managers, about a specific challenge they faced, their hypothesis and actions for improvement, their results and demonstrated the practical application of the skills learned through Coach Bootcamp. The presentation was followed by a rigorous 20-minute Q&A by the leadership panel. The goal was to see how the coaches have used the lessons learned, specifically the use of data and coaching, to improve team results, their ability to execute the coaching model and how they motivate their teams to increase sales as well their ability to manage time effectively.  The coach’s method of handling difficult coaching situations was of special interest to the panel.

Those coaches who do not pass the panel review were given a second opportunity.

The results:

  1. Improved Sales: Implementation was 8-15% across the centers (4 different companies)
  2. Lower turnover: Previous implementation was 7-19% reduction across centers
  3. Improved employee satisfaction: Previous implementation resulted in 10%-18% improvement in employee satisfaction survey or eNPS.

 

Examples and quotes:

  • “Because of the Certification process I saw a 19% increase in revenue and 29% increase in work time” JH
  • “I manage my time more effectively; I spend 70% of my time on the floor with Customer Service Representatives versus 55% before Coach Certification.” LW
  • “I have been 100% or above on my revenue goals since Coach Bootcamp and I have been prioritizing my work to focus more on team results” SH

Three Coaches Weigh In

Certified Coach 1, Florida:

  • “Because of my new focus on data I have been getting better results. I saw an increase of 20% in transitioning to sales opportunities, 38% in asking questions to uncover the customer’s needs, and a 43% increase in presenting value statements.”
  • “I learned from other coaches about better ways to use my mid-month report. I now have the consultants (customer service representatives) draft their own plan of action which we then work on it together. The collaboration is yielding a more realistic document, and one the consultant can `own’.”
  • “The biggest change for me since Coach Bootcamp. is that I hold the consultants more accountable. They know that I am available and they know they need to make me aware of how I can help them help the team.”

 

Certified Coach 2, West Virginia:

  • “Since Coach Bootcamp my team ranking in our center went from 11th place in January to 4th place in March and to 2nd place in April and May. We are pretty proud and aiming for the top slot!”
  • “I tried a new competition between two teams, and 7 out of 8 consultants finished over 100% of their goal! These same consultants were all below 100% in the previous month.”
  • “Thirty-seven percent of the time my team was not `asking probing questions.’ I learned from Coach Bootcamp. that sometimes I needed to focus on individuals rather than the whole team so I began to meet one-on-one with them. I saw remarkable improvement. One consultant increased the number of questions she asked by 31% and her revenue per call increased by $1.07. Another consultant increased questions by 45% and her revenue per call increased by $1.48. That adds up!”

 

Certified Coach 3, Florida:

  • “I increased my awareness about breaking out monthly sales expectations into daily goals. For example, telling a rep `You only have to make 3.3 High-Speed Internet sales out of 100 calls to meet your goal’ is much more attainable to the rep than focusing on  the monthly goal.  That translates into more confidence and more sales!’”
  • “I learned to prioritize my to-do list. As a result I have since met the goal of spending 70% of my time on the floor with the consultants.  The floor is the core!”
  • “I learned from another coach about doing a `coach swap.’ Two coaches switch teams and are totally focused on giving the consultants attention and getting results. We were totally available to the consultants and saw things differently. We all learned from the swap.”

Overall, Coach Bootcamp is a proven methodology.  Where implemented it has had a huge positive impact in the quality of coaching, improved culture within the operation and dramatic improvement in the performance of the organizations.