Coaching Versus Training: Why Coaching Your CS Staff is Essential for Success

Customer service can’t be reduced to a formula. It’s more than your agents promising a good product or service, smiling, and wishing a customer a pleasant day. This is where customer service coaching for your agents can make a big difference.

A customer service role can involve endless amounts of training. And CS representatives indeed need to learn about new products, features, and policies regularly as they interact with customers.

However, great customer service needs more than training. It requires the intimate and personalized activity of coaching. Here’s why.

The Benefits of Coaching Versus Training

Before listing the benefits, it’s important to differentiate coaching from formal training. In business, coaching is the activity of having highly experienced or skilled individuals provide employees with guidance, feedback, and advice.

Coaching is different from mentoring in the sense that it isn’t part of a path toward personal success. Nor is it focused on an individual’s professional career arc.

At the same time, coaching is different from training in that it isn’t wholly focused on the transfer of knowledge or skills. While information and training are important, coaching takes things a step further by helping employees implement their knowledge in the best manner possible.

Effectively coaching a customer service staff can result in a plethora of different benefits, including the following:

Coaching supplements theoretical knowledge with experiential training: Training tends to provide information via lessons and sessions and then judges success or failure based on generic scores. Coaching uses personalized feedback to improve performance.
Coaching increases transparency and trust: Coaching opens up the training process by having employees perform with an experienced individual watching and guiding. While it may be awkward at first, given time, coaching can open up new levels of encouragement and trust. This enhances agent confidence and, by extension, customer satisfaction.
Coaching avoids flawed assumptions: When training fails, it is often attributed to a lack of knowledge or an inability to follow instructions. However, a coach can also identify if the failure is due to an unforeseen or unique factor that is present in a particular scenario.
Coaching allows for fine-tuning and tweaking: This can be anything from using certain shortcuts to understanding where everything in a CRM is located. When enough minor adjustments take place, the streamlining effect can lead to a dramatic improvement in performance.
Coaching increases accountability: Coaching can identify genuine stumbling blocks and missing information that can prevent CS reps from doing their job well. Evaluate what a CS rep might be missing and how you can fix the issue. Again, this typically should be addressed at a leadership level.
Coaching improves future innovation: The coaching feedback cycle can also garner critical data and feedback. This can inform and improve future CS applications, tools, and programs.

There are numerous benefits to coaching a CS staff. The intimate, personalized effect of coaching can immediately impact a team’s productivity and professionalism. It can also empower them to feel confident as they search for solutions for customers.

The Challenge of CS Coaching in a Remote First World

The benefits of coaching are difficult to argue with. However, the remote-first shift that took place in 2020 has made it challenging to reproduce coaching in virtual office spaces.

Coaching is traditionally an intimate, in-person activity that can be difficult to conduct in a remote setting. Nevertheless, it isn’t impossible, as can be seen with the success story of Tails.com.

The dog food subscription company (Tails) found an immediate increase in its telework customer service activity when the COVID-19 crisis began. Of course, Tails.com already had a robust online resource center to help with CS training. Even so, it noticed that many of its customer service reps were struggling when working with customers. This was most poignant when they had to answer unique customer questions asked at the moment.

In order to help its staff manage the uptick in remote customer service inquiries, the company continued using the quality assurance program they already had in place but now utilized the Screen Capture software that MaestroQA offered.

MaestroQA’s software allowed Tails.com’s QA team to see a visual of what was happening each time a customer service rep interacted with a customer. This equipped them with the knowledge required to provide specific, personalized feedback for each agent.

The coaching effort has helped Tails.com maintain its “Excellent” rating on Trustpilot.com in spite of the challenges that the pandemic presented. What’s more, it demonstrates that, regardless of the specific setting, the ability to provide detailed feedback through a coaching medium is overwhelmingly more effective than generic training and shared resources.

Customer service is an evolving field. Automation, transforming communication channels, and work from home have all affected the department. Nevertheless, CS coaching has remained an effective way to improve the customer experience, whether it’s in person or online.

Image Credit: mentatdgt; pexels; thank you!

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