At Coplus, coaching is one of the most important staff development activities that we undertake. Coaching and mentoring have been effective in our contact centre for a long time, however in looking for improvements in our approach for new recruits we’ve seen great benefits by putting coaching at the heart of the process.

One explanation we like that differentiates between training and coaching says that training is about transferring knowledge, whilst coaching is about enhancing knowledge.

We use an agile approach now to staff development, especially the initial period of induction. This consists of a short period of classroom training to provide the necessary what and how, fortunately, coupled with some great technology improvements the how and what of navigating a claim is not onerous, giving space to focus on soft skills as well.

After the classroom time new claims handlers go into the live contact centre environment. The people who supported their learning in the classroom are coaches, they also have their own positions as claims handlers, and their role as a coach sits alongside this.

The new recruits spend a short period working in the live environment, supported by coaches all of the time. Then they return to the classroom setting for further knowledge transfer, again supported by coaches with their hands on expertise to enhance the learning. The process of classroom learning followed by live work with a coach is repeated.

The benefits of this approach have been three fold:

New recruits are keen to get started. They now get to work with customers in half the time. It’s engaging and provides an active environment to stimulate and motivate people to grow and seek out solutions to new situations they may encounter as part of their role.

The quality of service our new starters provide is slightly higher. By encouraging a peer-to-peer relationship, communication barriers are broken down which enables a safe environment for staff to ask for help and support. The quality scores for new starters, after three months, in the coach led process average at 95.5%, a 3% increase.

The coaches themselves also benefit greatly. It has provided a new opportunity for development and enabled them to develop new skills. It’s an alternative path for team members looking to expand their career with us.