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Anatomy Of Coaching

The Objectives Of Coaching

Coaching is a form of instruction whose purpose is to modify a TC’s performance and encourage more successful and productive behaviour. An athletics coach actually gets down to it, (in track suit, with a stop watch) alongside the athlete, observing and giving him advice and exercises to improve his performance. Similarly, a telemarketing coach works with each TC, whilst they are making/receiving calls, to assist them to be more productive.

At no stage is the athlete or TC’s ability, willingness or attitude to the job called into question. These things are assumed to be good. Coaching is purely concerned with behaviour - what people do that works and what they do that does not work.

The Stages Of Coaching

First stage - using your senses

Before you do or say anything - Stop, look and listen. Look at their facial expression. What's the first impression their expression has on you?

Does it make you feel good and warm towards them? Do they look relaxed and attentive? Tense and agitated? In pain? Alert and enthusiastic? Whatever you feel like when you look at them is probably what the customer at the other end of the line is feeling.

Look at their posture. Do they look comfortable and relaxed? Or slumped? Twisted and contorted? Agitated and fidgety? Alive and energetic? Again, feel the impact they have on you - it's a very reliable indicator of the effect they'll be having on their customers.

A few more words about this. When you simply stop for a second and register the impact that someone has on you, in other words trust your instincts, you're in a much better position to assist them. For instance, you'll focus your attention on one of your team, and the impact may be of great apathy and lethargy - giving you a strong experience of "Hell, why should I bother".

Shift your attention to someone else and the experience will change. You may feel their frustration and irritation, feel tense and tight. With someone else, you may feel sad, dispirited and miserable.

What this shows is that their mood, their emotions and feelings, convey themselves to you. And if they convey themselves to you, they'll be having the same effect on the customers. So you can use your own experience of your TC’s, to intercept and alter the impact they have. Most people are largely unaware of the effect they have on other people, and usually surprised to be told what impact they have. Also, most people welcome specific and usable feedback.

Another thing to look at is the state of their desk, their immediate working environment. If it's well ordered and fairly tidy, then they are likely to be purposeful and productive. Similarly, if their desk is a mess it probably means that they also are in a disorganised, distracted state of mind. Use the appearance of their immediate work space as an indicator to you.

Listen to their voice. There are several factors to consider. The first is volume. There is a minimum effective volume for phone work. It's that volume which allows someone to speak clearly, powerfully and with energy and enthusiasm; and of course, it takes all those qualities to get results consistently. However, volume must be allied to an attractive fullness and richness of tone. There's nothing worse than someone speaking loudly with a harsh or strident voice.

The human voice is an extraordinary thing - you may have noticed that your voice changes depending on your mood, your energy level and so on. It sounds different when you're nervous, happy, angry, excited, or relaxed. This is because your body, which produces the sound, changes according to these factors. So, a tense body tends to produce a high or hard sound. There is more to listen for. Moods, emotions and feelings are also expressed in the rise and fall of the voice; in the emphasis placed on different words; in the pacing, whether slow or fast.

So, to summarise; the first stage in coaching is to look and listen, to use your senses plus your instincts in order to "read" someone. The trick here is to be simple, like a child, and feel the general impact or impression that someone has. Another tip - trust the first thoughts and feeling you have, rather than attempting to analyse or explain them.

Second stage - decide what to say

Feedback is more effective the simpler it is. Limit what you say to a maximum of three positive points and three developmental points. If you can't see a positive point, try to identify one This will have two advantages. It will be easier to receive and understand, and it will encourage a similarly concise and simple response. Make one point at a time - don't land a whole string of comments and observations on someone.

Information should be delivered in bite size chunks to ensure that it is fully digested. When deciding what to say, think of the area to develop which you think will have the greatest impact - other areas can be given at a later stage.

Third stage - get their attention

There are two ways of giving feedback to someone working on the telephone:- when they are actually speaking on the phone, and between calls. There are pros and cons with both methods. The former can have a much greater effect, as the TC can actually use the advice offered immediately: they may be able to change the course of the call, and get a positive result where a negative one seemed likely.

The drawbacks are that not all TC’s are capable of receiving advice at the same time as calling; and not all coaches are good at giving feedback in a direct, easily received and unobtrusive way.

To make it easier for both TC and coach, the coach should tell the TC what he proposes to do, so the TC knows what to expect "I would like to be able to give you immediate feedback and advice, while you are actually on the line ..." Then set up a series of simple and mutually agreed instructions, things like "slow down" "speak louder" "bring your voice down" "more energy". A system of hand signals is even simpler and less ambiguous, provided both parties understand the code!

If you decide to wait until the end of the call before giving feedback, then make sure the TC is ready to listen to you. Don't pounce on them as soon as the receiver hits the rest. Get their full attention first. Then give your feedback.

Fourth stage - give feedback

"Being given feedback" will quickly become synonymous with "being told off" unless these points are borne in mind.

1. Tell people what worked as well as telling them what didn't. It's all too easy to take someone’s strengths for granted, but both strengths and areas to develop need to be acknowledged equally.

2. Be precise and specific about what worked or didn't. It's not sufficient to say "you sound great" or "you sound awful". Remember that when you were looking, listening and deciding what to say, you were thinking in very specific terms. Tell them exactly what you noticed and use examples where possible.

3. Put yourself in the picture by telling them how you felt. Let them know the impact they had on you. This makes it more personal and less of a judgement on them. Never pretend to be objective; what you are telling them are your personal observations and comments. The value of them to the TC, is that the effect they have on you is likely to be similar to the effect they have on the customer.

Fifth stage - give instruction

Tell them something they can do, something simple and of immediate practical value. Again, be precise and specific and tell them what to do. In other words don't say "For God's sake, be more enthusiastic", say "speak much louder, slightly faster and with more -emphasis in your voice".

Where possible, give them a practical demonstration of what you want, then get them to copy you. Just as in Stage Four you told them how you felt, in Stage Five tell them how you would feel if they were to follow your advice, and encourage them to improve their presentation.

Sixth stage - validation and acknowledgement

It's important that you notice whether they did or didn't follow your instructions, and that you let them know what you noticed. So stay close enough to be able to hear or see them, without being obtrusive or over-bearing. Don't be too lavish in praise if they do follow your instructions successfully, and don't be punitive or disappointed if they don't. If necessary, ask why they didn't follow your suggestions; check that they understand what you want them to do and why; then repeat the instruction.

When you validate, you will make the whole process of coaching more valuable and of greater meaning to the TC. The advantage of this is that people gradually become self-coaching - they notice their own defects, remedy these defects, and validate themselves.

Your own communication must be impeccable. In other words, you should embody the good advice you're giving them. So, always speak loudly and clearly, with energy and colour in your voice. Be encouraging. Spot any tendency you may have to be abrupt, condescending, apologetic or whatever attitude you may take up when you're giving feedback, then correct yourself.

You should be physically unobtrusive. Don't stand right behind someone, or tower over them. On the other hand, don't be meek or apologetic in your stance. It generally works best to ask the TC where they would like you to sit and ensure that you are not obstructing their work.

Ensure that you are not staring straight at the TC’s face when they are on a call, as this could be off putting. You must also be aware of the impact you would create by looking out of the window or watching other people in the communications centre. Keep all of your attention on the call and ensure that your behaviour reflects this.

Further techniques

When someone seems to have a performance problem which is stubborn and not easily corrected by coaching, it can usually be solved by trouble-shooting with them.

Sit down with them (it may even be best to go and sit somewhere away from their desk). Find out what their personal daily target is; for instance, how many customer accounts do they want to have phoned; or how many orders; what total sales value etc.

Then ask what progress they're making towards that goal. So, for example, if they plan to have phoned 50 customer accounts by the end of the day, and it's now lunch time, they should have completed about 25 calls. If they've only phoned 18, they're behind schedule. It's not safe to assume that everything will work out, and they'll get back on course.

Ask them to come up with a few possible reasons why they haven't got through to as many customers as they wanted to. Work with the TC to come up with effective solutions and ensure that they make notes. It may be appropriate for the TC to adjust their personal target, this is fine as long as the goals are set towards the original target. The TC should do the troubleshooting themselves, your role is to facilitate the process.

 

Mechanics of Telephone Guidance and Instruction

 

Coaching Guide

 

This document is intended to help you carry out a coaching session with a Telebusiness Communicator (TC). It will provide you with guidance on what to look for during a session and how to record your observations and feedback.

You will have had the "Setting the Context" explained on the training, so I now offer you advice on what to do during the session itself.

I recommend you do nothing but listen for the first 10-15 minutes. Often people will try to be ‘perfect’ when being listened to. Give the person lots of space and, in my experience, they more often than not forget you are there. In any situation like role-plays or coaching, people tend to drift slowly back into their natural style after 10-15 minutes anyway.

Trust your instincts! If you hear something you like/dislike, file it in your head and then look for evidence, rather than jump to early conclusions. Remember that any feedback starts with a ‘critical thought’. Without specifics, that ‘thought’ will turn into ‘criticism’.

Here are the sort of things you should consider when someone is making or taking a call:

1. Greeting: What impact was created? Warm, friendly, professional, rushed, defensive, tired, etc.? How did that impact come across? Use specifics of vocal impact.

2. Vocal Impact: You have 6 elements to decide on: pace, pitch, volume, energy, articulation and projection: fast, slow, high, low, quiet, loud, harsh, smooth, clipped, dragged? Link your specific element to its impact and you then have "example and impact" parts of your feedback in place.

Assess their use of language. Was it positive, negative or neutral? Did they use appropriate terms like jargon in the right or wrong places?

3. Vias: Was the TC using any of the nine Vias you learnt on Induction and, if so, what impact did that have? i.e. Speeding - makes people sound hurried and impatient, or uncertain and wanting to get it over with, or over-enthusiastic about the subject. Name the Via and elicit or give its impact. Put yourself in the customer’s position and whatever you feel is likely to be the same as what the customer feels.

4. Rapport: Assess the TC’s ability to have a mutually beneficial conversation with professionalism. What makes rapport? Were they matching their customer? Were they demonstrating flexibility with their own style? If so, how and when? If not, where and how and what impact do you think they created?

5. Directing: Did the TC have a balance of Inform/Invite/Listen and Acknowledge? If the conversation was very one-sided, which part was missing or over-used? Did the TC ask too many questions? Did they not ask enough? Were they able to demonstrate that they were listening? Were mistakes made? Did they answer the right questions? Did they give the customer space to speak or were they so eager/impatient to speak that they, worse, interrupted? If anything was missing what effect did it have on the rapport aspect? If it went superbly well, it’s equally important for someone to know what they were doing right - never forget that!

6. Handling Objections: If a customer is complaining or is struggling, assess the TC’s ability to handle the situation. Did they use the conversation cycle effectively? Did they maintain control of the problem? If not, why not? What was missing? Most importantly, did they acknowledge the complaint or problem? There are two things people need to know; "have you heard and understood my problem?" and "What are you doing about it?" If they handled it well and the customer was satisfied, what part of the call really worked to enable that?

You don’t have to get EVERYTHING into a session. By all means make notes on what you observe. I then suggest you pull out the ‘extremes’ of positive and developmental areas. Once the TC improves on one developmental area, this may automatically improve other developmental areas.

For example: If a TC is speaking too fast and not articulating clearly, quite often, by slowing their speech down, their articulation improves.

This works well when the TC has many developmental areas. Telling them about all of the things that they need to improve could be de-moralising and overload the TC, therefore if you only mention one or two, these may affect other areas.

When you offer positive feedback never throw it away. Ensure that the TC understands why you’re saying it, make sure they accept it. Leave a pause after giving positive feedback to ensure that it is fully received. Watch your own impact at this point, i.e. rising pitch can make you sound insincere!

Never link positives to developmentals by saying, "That was good, BUT..." as that’s when feedback can appear like a beating stick.

 

It’s important to let people know the following:

Example quote examples from the call/s

Impact how did it come across to you?

Benefit if it’s positive, the result it had

Solution if it’s developmental, how to correct it

Result what happens if solutions to developmentals are implemented, then link it back to ‘example and impact’

 

Use the standard format coaching sheets supplied, as it is important that there is consistency throughout the Communications Centre. They are easy to use purely from the viewpoint that you can decide what to put in, rather than be guided by specific tick-boxes, categories, which can make you feel like you need to cover every aspect of communication skills each time.

You have the freedom to decide what to write about and how to write it. As long as you are specific, you can back up any instinct or feeling that you have. Remember to be positive, specific and behavioural and not to attack someone’s core being.

Coaching is highly rewarding to you as well as to the person receiving it if it’s done well and with the right intention!

 

 

 

Communications Centre coaching sheet

 

Name Level working towards

Current performance against target

 

Date:

Target / Goal

 

By when:

Actions to be taken

 

Strengths (i.e. Communication Skills, Self Management, Team Skills)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Areas to develop (i.e. Communication Skills, etc).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communications Centre coaching sheet

 

Name Level working towards

Current performance against target

 

Date:

Target / Goal

 

By when:

Actions to be taken

 

Strengths (i.e. Communication Skills, Self Management, Team Skills)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Areas to develop (i.e. Communication Skills, etc).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coaching Check-list form

Voice

Volume

Pitch

Pace

Energy

Articulation

Vias

(Sentence Shape, Energy Drop, Speeding, Breaking, Content Dilution, Word Drag)

 

Rapport

Matching

-Language

-Voice

Sensory Acuity

Flexibility

Impact

 

DTC Inform Invite Listen Acknowledge

Attention/focus

Clear Ideas

Level of Explanation

OCN’s

Use of Cycle

 

System/Keyboard Skills

Product/Procedure Knowledge

State/Stress Management

Visual Impact

Team Work

 

Coaching Check-list form

Voice

Volume

Pitch

Pace

Energy

Articulation

Vias

(Sentence Shape, Energy Drop, Speeding, Breaking, Content Dilution, Word Drag)

 

Rapport

Matching

-Language

-Voice

Sensory Acuity

Flexibility

Impact

 

DTC Inform Invite Listen Acknowledge

Attention/focus

Clear Ideas

Level of Explanation

OCN’s

Use of Cycle

 

System/Keyboard Skills

Product/Procedure Knowledge

State/Stress Management

Visual Impact

Team Work

 

Coaching Check-list form

Voice

Volume

Pitch

Pace

Energy

Articulation

Vias

(Sentence Shape, Energy Drop, Speeding, Breaking, Content Dilution, Word Drag)

 

Rapport

Matching

-Language

-Voice

Sensory Acuity

Flexibility

Impact

 

DTC Inform Invite Listen Acknowledge

Attention/focus

Clear Ideas

Level of Explanation

OCN’s

Use of Cycle

 

System/Keyboard Skills

Product/Procedure Knowledge

State/Stress Management

Visual Impact

Team Work

 

Coaching Check-list form

Voice

Volume

Pitch

Pace

Energy

Articulation

Vias

(Sentence Shape, Energy Drop, Speeding, Breaking, Content Dilution, Word Drag)

 

Rapport

Matching

-Language

-Voice

Sensory Acuity

Flexibility

Impact

 

DTC Inform Invite Listen Acknowledge

Attention/focus

Clear Ideas

Level of Explanation

OCN’s

Use of Cycle

 

System/Keyboard Skills

Product/Procedure Knowledge

State/Stress Management

Visual Impact

Team Work

 

Coaching Check-list form

Voice

Volume

Pitch

Pace

Energy

Articulation

Vias

(Sentence Shape, Energy Drop, Speeding, Breaking, Content Dilution, Word Drag)

 

Rapport

Matching

-Language

-Voice

Sensory Acuity

Flexibility

Impact

 

DTC Inform Invite Listen Acknowledge

Attention/focus

Clear Ideas

Level of Explanation

OCN’s

Use of Cycle

 

System/Keyboard Skills

Product/Procedure Knowledge

State/Stress Management

Visual Impact

Team Work

 

 

Video exercise

Area

Feedback

Scale 1-10

Visual

• Body posture

 

 

 

• Body movement

 

 

 

• Hand gestures

 

 

 

• Facial expression

 

 

 

• Eye contact

 

 

 

Vocal

• Volume

 

 

 

• Pitch

 

 

 

• Pace

 

 

 

• Articulation

 

 

 

• Energy

 

 

 

Content

 

 

 

Overall impact

 

 

 

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