A few years ago I visited a customer in Italy, and we demonstrated the coaching and monitoring tools of OpenText™ Qfiniti. At the end of the meeting, the most senior person in the room thanked us for coming and said, “Ian, I’d like to tell you a story.”
The woman went on to share the fact that her sister plays the viola in an orchestra in Rome, and the musicians are part of a workers’ council, or union. She said that if the conductor hears her sister play too softly, too loudly, too quickly, too slowly…..he cannot say to her, “Please change your behavior in this way or that.” No, she said, the conductor must instruct ALL of the string instruments to play more softly, or more loudly, or quicker or slower.
The woman then explained that although coaching solutions to increase employee engagement are quite popular around the world, organizations with unions must promote a sense of fairness, and so they would not be able to provide one-on-one coaching that called out a specific employee for coaching in their contact center. This story has always stayed with me and has shaped my view on employee groups and employee engagement throughout Europe and beyond.
The key is to find the right balance of specific guidance and universal coaching, (and in accordance with worker council or union guidelines where required). An OpenText customer in the United States recently told me that, “Effective coaching in a unionized environment means that we must do what’s right for our employees and what’s best for the customer experience for millions of our customers.”
This is the balance that all companies should strike, and here are some best practice recommendations to define requirements and put technology to work.
- Employee Notification: It is always important to alert employees that they will be recorded both over the phone and on their computer. Employees should be given a chance to decline recording options for agreed-upon reasons as defined by your Worker’s Council.
- Balanced Selection: Another great idea is to allow employees to choose a few calls to evaluate and also have the supervisor choose a few calls. This alleviates any “my supervisor is only choosing bad calls” perception.
- Published Coaching Rules: Starting a new quality management or coaching program is also a great time to document evaluation forms, processes, agent feedback and workflows. Use this as a new start with your Human Resources team and start off with published guidelines.
- Agent Access: Consider coaching tools that track the workflow of evaluations and/or coaching sessions. Don’t rely on traditional “random” approaches to call selection, but allow agents access to view their recordings for self-evaluation. Agent access also includes agent acknowledgement. Look for digital signature capabilities for supervisors and agents to sign coaching forms.
- Feedback and Appeals: Look for coaching tools that allow the agent to post feedback within the tool and also allow for appeals and re-evaluations. This empowers the agent to become part of the evaluation program and not just the target of it.
- Unbiased Evaluation Assignments: Coaching tools that can objectively assign agent evaluations to the Evaluators without regard to agent or evaluator is can be extremely valuable. Allowing the tool to automatically assign evaluation tasks based on mutually agreeable criteria removes any perceptions of bias and allows for more diverse feedback.
If you can’t take each musician and coach them individually, don’t lose count (pun intended) of creating the perfect environment for coaching success. Your Workers’ Council representatives, your employees, and your customers will be there for the encore!