Coaching in a virtual call center definitely has its challenges. The biggest challenge: communication. Managers don’t have the luxury of calling an agent into a meeting room to talk or to directly observe how they work, which is why utilizing the best communications technology is extremely necessary in managing a virtual workforce. Doing so ensures that communication between managers and agents is not hindered by geographical location.
Having the best communication tools allows three things to happen:
- Managers can give agents the proper time and attention they need
- Agents have the ability to access managers when they need them
- Agents can contact other agents
Chat is one of the easiest tools to use in virtual environments. Agents can send a quick message to their project manager while on a call if they need assistance, or they can converse with other agents while they’re waiting for their next call. Other applications like Skype allow managers and agents to get some “face time” in one-on-one or group settings.
It’s important for managers to maintain consistent communication with their team. A quick “Hi!” or “How’s it going?” to the agents daily, whether it’s verbal or via chat or email, not only lets them know their manager is there, but also helps create a friendly relationship, which can be difficult when working remotely.
Beyond the challenge of creating effective communication channels, coaching virtually doesn’t differ greatly from coaching in a brick-and-mortar environment. Be sure to provide constructive feedback. If an agent is having difficulty with a task, ask him what his perspective is and try to come to a solution together. Encourage agents to discuss any concerns and questions they have with other tasks. Doing so helps to build a strong bond between agents and their manager.
Feedback isn’t just about what someone is doing wrong – it is also about what she is doing right. It is a great morale booster and confidence builder for agents to know which areas they are improving and that they are doing a good job, especially when the kudos comes from a customer they’ve helped.
Coaching in a virtual call center means overcoming challenges brick-and-mortar call centers don’t face, but ultimately the ways and means are the same: support and great communication.