Want Process Improvement? Don’t waste your time on Coaching Individuals


    The Futility of Call Center Coaching is a very interesting and thought-provoking article on how spending more money on coaching individual agents in a Call Center or on other business process participants is essentially a waste of money!

    The author says that spending more money in improving the entire system, adding money to improve systems and call flows (or process flows) for the entire set of agents is actually money better spent than on coaching individual agents.

    The author starts out quoting Edward Deming and his famous experiments that proved that perturbing a system introduces more variation and does not help in achieving greater quality. The same thing happens when one of the Call Center agents gets trained individually.

    Improving the entire system with expenditures on better systems, automation of call flows (in case of Contact Center processes) or processes help improve the end result, for example, Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT).

    The author also does a mathematical simulation of the above situation and proves his point. In practice, it is quite impossible to avoid individual coaching of agents, given employee turnover and new employees joining. The author makes a point that even in organizations with very modest turnover, the situation is still the same! So no point in wasting time on training individual agents if you want to improve end results!

    The above study also makes a subtle case for applying lean techniques to business processes first. These improve the flows at the process level and improves things for all agents, eliminating complete steps in some cases.

    Elimination of waste is always a better idea than training agents on skills that are spent on wasteful activities,anyway.

    A system is a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system. A system must have an aim. Without an aim, there is no system. …A system must be managed. The secret is cooperation between components toward the aim of the organization. We cannot afford the destructive effect of competition."  – W. Edwards Demindg, The New Economics