One-to-ones are a fantastic tool for improving agent performance, activity and engagement. But, you don’t get all that time for free.
Every one-to-one you run takes an agent away from frontline customer interactions for a period of time. And, of course, any team leader will tell you that the process of scheduling, preparing for, running and following up on one-to-ones is a time investment too!
For this time investment to pay off in the long term, you need to make every meeting count.
Some of this is in the planning, and some of this is in the execution. Below, we’ve mapped out six key actions you and your colleagues can take to make sure you’re making the most of your one-to-one time with agents.
1. Share What You Are Going To Discuss Ahead of Time
There’s no point in keeping the subject of your one-to-one a surprise. It increases anxiety, reduces likelihood your agents will buy into the process and reduces the potential for productive discussion.
Sharing key topics in advance allows agents to mentally prepare and think about any questions they have in the area. They might even find useful angles that you hadn’t thought of at all.
As part of this process, you should also schedule one-to-ones a few days in advance, so that agents have plenty of notice to prepare and clear their schedules. As well as ensuring your agents are free, this emphasises that one-to-ones are an important part of your workplace culture – not just an ad-hoc thing that managers spring onto people from time to time.
2. Explain To Agents What Is Expected Of Them
Agent workforces often skew young and (relatively) inexperienced. There’s a real chance they haven’t had any one-to-ones before and don’t know what to expect.
You will have better, more productive one-to-ones if you explain this ahead of time rather than leaving them to work it out by themselves. As well as explaining what the session is about, take them through the process. What data do you look at? How will these sessions help them going forward? What sort of actions might they be expected to take as a result?
3. Never Cancel Your One-to-Ones
Commitment to one-to-ones should be a cornerstone of your contact centre’s people and performance strategies. Without them, you will struggle to see any sort of agent improvement over time.
This means they should be scheduled as recurring meetings, so that everyone knows and expects your one-to-ones as a regular event.
It also means that you should on no account cancel your one-to-ones. Even in an emergency. Even if it means a temporary drop in service levels. Because if you cancel one, then why not another? If things are really dire, you could opt to rearrange – but make this a last resort. Otherwise you’ll find yourself sliding and cancelling more whenever it’s convenient.
4. Make Your Coaching Actionable
Generalised advice or feedback is more difficult to apply to your day-to-day work than concrete actions.
To get the best results from your one-to-ones, make any coaching actionable. In other words, you should assign particular tasks or actions to agents to help them implement the feedback and coaching you provide them.
At a later point, you can then review any outstanding actions and see which have been completed to see how effective the coaching session has been.
5. Ensure That There Is Space For Reflection
Your managers and agents will have a range of different outlooks, personalities and preferences. These will affect how they process information, and how they feel comfortable behaving in a one-to-one.
Making sure that all agents have the opportunity to reflect and ask questions after the one-to-one has ended will ensure no-one feels too anxious about confrontation to clarify key points.
Emphasise that you will be available over email or workplace instant messenger for any follow ups, and perhaps use your contact centre software to provide a space for reflection.
6. Make Sure The Rest of Your Organisation Knows The Value of One-to-Ones
As a team leader or manager, there is some degree of managing upwards when it comes to one-to-ones. Senior stakeholders will want to see some benefit to taking agents of the phones. Out of everyone in the organisation, you are best placed to provide this.
As well as remaining resolutely positive, you’ll need to show some hard data to win over the organisation at large. Keeping track of key internal metrics like QA scores and customer data like CSAT or NPS is a great source of insight here – track improvements on an individual agent level and as a general contact centre trend.
EvaluAgent: the Tool That Maximises One-to-One Impact
Our newly launched One to Ones and Actions tool enables your team leaders to schedule, run and follow up on one-to-one meetings.
EvaluAgent pulls in data from both QA processes as well as enabling users to upload external documentation so team leaders can schedule one-to-ones around specific, actionable topics. A library of one-to-one templates reduces pressure on team leaders and allows them to focus on the conversation at hand.
The result? Useful, productive conversations that result in genuine agent engagement, with measurable performance improvements over time.
For those senior stakeholders who want to see tangible benefits from one-to-ones, EvaluAgent offers full visibility over one-to-ones and coaching, with the ability to track completed actions for further granularity of insight.
In the meantime, agents can interact with meetings and actions to own their performance improvement and maximise the value that one-to-one coaching offers them.