Many contact centers had to shutter their doors, sending their employees home to work remotely, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While much about the paradigm is different, one typical activity that can be especially challenging to handle is coaching a remote contact center team.
Managers have to ensure that their teams stay on target and meet productivity and performance standards. In a traditional workplace, this process is usually pretty straightforward. Typically, the manager can sit down with the employee and offer feedback or guidance. A natural dialogue can occur, allowing both parties to find workable solutions to improve in the right areas.
Coaching a remote contact center team isn’t necessarily as simple. While managers may have access to the same performance data, discussing it with an employee may be a bit more complicated. Having feedback conversations via email isn’t ideal, as it isn’t possible to gauge the writer’s tone and could lead to misunderstandings. Even phone calls and video chats have their drawbacks.
Additionally, when an employee has a question or needs support, they can’t simply pop into your office to ask for assistance. This can be a significant hindrance, especially when guidance is needed quickly.
Luckily, there are things you can do that can make coaching a remote contact center team easier. Here are some tips and tricks that can help.
Focus on Availability
Coaching a remote contact center team means making yourself as available as possible. You want to make sure that your employees can reach you when they have an emergency or are struggling. After all, even a small delay in your response could be detrimental, either to the employee’s performance or their morale.
Dedicate a specific contact method for emergency support. That way, you know that when an employee reaches out through that channel, they need assistance immediately.
Additionally, be vigilant about team contact. Touch base with them regularly to see if they require assistance, and keep your eyes open for messages indicating that they need your input. Finally, let them know that your door is still open and that you welcome their questions.
Be Careful About Micromanaging
When you’re responsible for coaching a remote contact center team, you may be tempted to reach out frequently and request status updates. While touching base consistently can be beneficial, you need to make sure you aren’t overdoing it.
While a quick message once or twice a day asking how things are going may not seem bothersome to you, it could be distracting to your employees. This is especially true if you are expecting a lengthy reply about what they’ve accomplished each time, as it means they have to step away from their duties to report back.
What constitutes micromanaging may vary from one employee to the next. However, it’s important to have trust in your team’s capabilities, particularly if they are usually adept. When in doubt, exhibit a degree of restraint. If your team knows – as recommended above – that they can reach out to ask questions, a regular, but not overwhelming, check-in schedule is likely sufficient.
Watch Your (Written) Language
A major drawback to email and collaboration software messaging systems is the inability to gauge the writer’s tone. While you may share something that is meant to be humorous, the reader may take a statement out of context or assume that it in jest. Then, a misunderstanding develops, one that could damage morale or cause someone to take the wrong actions.
When you write, consider how your message may unintentionally be received. If there is a chance it could be misunderstood, you may want to rewrite it. Or, while not typically viewed as professional, you may want to add a signal that indicates your tone, like an emoji or a quick “LOL.” That lets the reader know you aren’t necessarily serious.
Offer Praise Openly and Often
Since causal conversation isn’t as easily managed when your working remotely, the coaching tendency may be to focus on areas that need improving. This can cause your feedback to become unbalanced, as reaching out to show your appreciation may not come to mind as often as touching base when there’s a problem.
Make an effort to offer praise openly and often. It lets your team members know that you see all of the good they are doing and that you value their contributions. Even a simple “thank you” can go a long way, so go the mile to highlight the good when you’re coaching your remote contact center team.