How to Coach Agents for Attitude


Here are some tips to help correct an agent’s attitude, without showing them the door.

“Hire for attitude, coach for skill” is a familiar catch-phrase in the contact centre, with many believing that an agent with the wrong attitude should be fired.

However, all is not lost if your agents happen to have a personality transplant between their interview and first day at work…

Tackle the fear of failure with clear objectives

It is entirely plausible that an agent with a chip on their shoulder may just be lacking in confidence and feeling overwhelmed, especially if your contact centre is their first experience of real work.

You can help to overcome this by offering them extra support in their personal development, by setting small and achievable targets which are monitored through a series of one-to-one coaching sessions.

With clear guidance and positive reinforcement, you should begin to see some improvement.

Find out what is important to them

It can be a very telling experience to ask someone why they come to work each day. While some simply have a family to support, others may have dreams to travel the world or buy a house.

Whatever their end goal is, taking the time to understand it and connect it to the bigger picture can work wonders for employee engagement.

Encourage honesty by sharing some examples of where the company has helped others in the past. For example, offering a more flexible shift pattern to tie in with childcare or college arrangements.

Tease out any underlying problems

If you are really concerned about an employee’s attitude, especially if they show very little resemblance to the person you interviewed, it is well worth sending your HR team in to find out if anything else is going on.

Perhaps one of their relatives has been taken ill, they’ve hit a rough patch with their partner, or are struggling financially.

If this does turn out to be the case, it may be in everyone’s best interests to grant them some compassionate leave. Who knows? With some time to clear their head, they might just return with a smile on their face.

Lead with a confident smile

It is no good trying to promote positivity in your contact centre if even your best agents are second-guessing your actions or being confronted with panic whenever something goes wrong.

The best way to create a calm and positive environment for all of your agents is to lead with a confident smile – even when your SLA targets are going off track.

Peer pressure

Peer pressure can be a great way to help improve performance.

Using team-based incentives rather than personal targets can help to ensure that it is in the interest of the whole team to help out the poor performer.

Buddy up for quality scoring

Buddying up two advisors for quality scoring and monitoring can also be a great way to share experience.

Coaching is more likely to be of benefit if it is shared, rather than prescribed from senior management.

Surround them with positivity

Another way to perk up an apathetic agent is to put them in a team with your most positive employees.

You can even break them in slowly (as a “top up” training exercise) by getting them to listen in for a morning, before taking calls again themselves in the afternoon.

You may just find that this is the encouragement they’ve been looking for.

A good example can be found on the ‘Continue & Begin Fast Coaching’ clip by Nick Drake-Knight on YouTube.

Kick-start this incentive on a Monday morning for added effect.

Know when to let go

While there are a number of reasons an agent could have an attitude problem, there is only so much any contact centre manager can do to fix it.

Sadly, in an environment where sales and great service depend on positivity, you can’t afford to have someone dragging you down. If you have tried all of the above with no success, it is probably best to let them go.

What do you do about poor attitude in your contact centre? Have you tried any of the above?

Published On: 11th Feb 2015 - Last modified: 25th Aug 2017
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