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Is agent attrition killing your performance and profit? Fix your Supervisor coaching!

A 2015 Gallup study of 7200 adults found that 50% of employees surveyed quit their job to "get away from their manager". Contrast this with a survey of highly engaged employees:

97% say that someone has encouraged their development;

92% say that someone has talked about their progress;

99% say that they know what is expected of them at work;

88% say that they have been praised recently;

98% say that their manager cares about them.

How effective are your contact center Supervisors when coaching their agents and in creating engaged employees? Sadly, if they are like most Supervisors, they are more likely to cause dis-engaged employees and to be a manager that drives attrition. Does this scenario sound familiar? A poor call review comes from the Quality team, the customer or the client. The Supervisor listens to the call and then has the agent listen to the call. He or she subsequently asks the agent what they did wrong? After listening to the agent cautiously and embarrassingly tell them what they think they want to hear, the Supervisor highlights the failure and reinforces the inadequate performance and feelings of failure on the part of the agent and then goes back to sit at his or her desk to "check the box" and respond that the agent has been coached.

To reduce attrition and drive performance improvement, agent coaching needs to be a central focus of every contact center manager. To create engaged agents, to reduce attrition and to improve KPIs, "check the box" coaching won't suffice. "Check the box" coaching sessions highlight poor performance and create defensive, unhappy agents. Rather than improve program KPIs, these negative feedback coaching sessions drive attrition and negatively impact KPIs by reducing the overall tenure of the agents on the program. To improve KPIs and reduce attrition, Supervisors need to be accountable to provide positive coaching experiences on a consistent schedule. A positive coaching session doesn't emphasize the agent's failure of the past but instead focuses on improving the agent's skill so that failure is eliminated in the future. Breaking the negative coaching cycle and helping Supervisors provide positive coaching experiences is not as difficult as it may seem. Supervisor coaching and communicating should be done in 7 simple steps: 1) Identify the skill that needs to be improved to eliminate the poor performance in the future. 2) Begin the coaching by complimenting the agent on something he or she has done well or are doing well. 3) Find out what the agent knows and confirm the agent's understanding of the skill to be coached by asking the agent to define the skill, including why the skill is important. 4)Practice the skill by asking the agent to provide examples of how he or she would use the skill during a customer call. 5) Role play the specific skill and have the agent use his or her practiced examples exhibiting and re-enforcing the skill. 6) Provide tips, assistance and examples of the skill throughout the coaching while still allowing the agent to do most of the talking and helping the agent to "coach themselves". 7) Re-emphasize what the agent is doing well and commit the agent to use the skill on future calls.

To re-enforce these 7 simple steps and to help Supervisors provide positive coaching, a contact center needs to provide Supervisors with content and coaching tools that focus on skill development. Supervisors need access to skill reference knowledge and they need pre-defined skill based coaching activities and coaching aids that will help them format their coaching in positive ways and that focus on skill development and improvement rather than past failure. Positive, customized skill based coaching content combined with online tracking and reporting of all coaching activities will provide Operations Managers with a complete tool to hold Supervisors accountable and ensure that positive coaching is taking place on a regular basis.

The negative impact and cost of agent attrition is exponential. Trostle and Associates, LTD estimates that a 1000 seat contact center, with only 70% annual attrition, is "wasting" $2.3 million dollars annually on attrition. The bad news is that these staggering cost estimates are not inclusive of lost revenue or the impact of low tenure agents on customer satisfaction, customer retention, sales and revenue. Lost production, productivity and performance multiply the fully loaded impact and cost of attrition many times over. To minimize attrition and improve program KPIs, a positive coaching program is essential. To provide a positive coaching program, customized, skill based coaching content is available online through Liberty Call Center Solutions.

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