Let’s face it. Receiving and accepting feedback is an essential skill that many never master. It can be tough to acknowledge one’s shortcomings.

The best customer service teams receive regular feedback and coaching. Individual and team-based coaching result in different outcomes. It’s essential to use both methods appropriately to maximize growth opportunities. Depending on the coaching needed, individual or team-based approaches will result in different outcomes.

Let’s explore the aspects of each.

Individual Coaching

Each customer service representative can become more valuable as an employee with investments in training and coaching. When management spends time one-on-one with employees, there are several benefits. Besides building rapport, one-on-one coaching signals that the supervisor and the company cares about the employee’s training and development.

For the most part, critical feedback should always be provided individually rather than in a team environment. Provide your employee a chance to save face in front of their colleagues and share negative feedback privately. But don’t use individual coaching time only for negative feedback, or your employee will come to associate one-on-one meetings with adverse outcomes.

Host weekly 15-minute one-on-one meetings with your associates. This allows your employee to bring up any concerns that they might not have otherwise. We highly recommend daily stop-ins for a quick “how are you doing?” or “do you need help with anything?”

Don’t rely on your employees to come to you. While an open-door policy is excellent, in practical terms, employees won’t know when you’re too busy or if you’ll think their issue is inconsequential.

In these coaching sessions, try to consider the situation from your associate’s point of view. Have they recently been written up? Have they been struggling with juggling personal and work demands? Make sure your coaching is based on factual data that can be shared with the associate, and the sooner, the better. When something is fresh in their mind, they are more likely to remember the details and better understand what went wrong.

Always give your associates time to speak, ensure their questions are answered, and their feedback heard. Don’t cut off communication because you think your associate is in the wrong. Make sure to hear their message in its entirety. Nothing causes a staff member to become frustrated than to be coached about their behavior and not have a chance to respond and be heard.

Working in collaboration, set attainable goals for your agents. They need a destination and a road map to get there. Identify resources they need to be successful. Always end coaching on a positive note whenever possible.

Even with the best coaching, some reps will never improve, or won’t improve enough to make it worth taking time away from the rest of your team. Learning when to say it’s enough and take steps to remove or reassign a team member can be a difficult lesson to learn. Don’t sacrifice the rest of your team or the customer to an agent who is incapable of catching up.

Group Coaching

Now let’s turn our attention to group coaching. When done right, group coaching can be a bonding experience for the entire team and help your associates feel they are part of a cause beyond themselves!

Delight your team members with tactful use of humor and good-natured fun. Keep your group sessions short and impactful. If you see your team members becoming bored, reconsider your material. Ensure these sessions are balanced with a different or rotating focus for each meeting. For example, product knowledge might be one topic and de-escalation techniques another.

Ask for your team’s feedback on scripts, policies, and practices. Sometimes the best ideas come from the most unlikely people.

Cover trends in customer engagements and prepare your agents to answer all sorts of questions from your customer.

Make sure to celebrate successes! Develop key performance indicators (KPIs) that are tracked regularly. When your KPIs move in a positive direction, make sure the team is recognized. Highlight positive interactions and use these engagements as best practices for the group. Recognize members’ contributions with awards and certificates or other fun incentives. These efforts can go a long way in developing productive and happy team members.