“But my way is better” – thoughts on a common coaching situation

“But my way is better” – thoughts on a common coaching situation and a Coach can manage the situation better

In a recent course, one of the Participants, ‘Roberta’ shared –

“Dan, I’ve just been promoted to a Quality Assurance role in my Contact Center.  And I’ve been asked to help our Center improve its call and email quality.

How do I handle a situation where the Agent believes that what they’re saying or writing to the Customer is perfectly fine, even when I know it can be better?”

Roberta explained that there was an Agent, ‘Deborah’, in the Center who had been there for many years and was set in her ways.

The Agent liked to use a colloquial expression when asking for the Customer name at the beginning of the call.

She would say –

“May I have your good name please?” 

But this Center served an international Customer base.

Not just Customers from one geographic region where that phrase may have been the norm.

Roberta believed that the Deborah’s phrasing could be confusing for their international Customers.

And all it took was listening to a sample of the call recordings to prove out the hypothesis.

Awkward pauses from Customers made it clear that the Agent phrasing was confusing to them.

When Roberta approached Deborah with the recommendation to change the phrasing, Deborah became defensive.

Her response was along the lines of –

“This standard is perfectly acceptable.  In fact, my sister in law who works in the Education Ministry in my home country told me that this standard appears in all the major textbooks used in school classrooms.”

On her side, Roberta was struggling with how to respond.

Without being rude or insulting.


Handling the common coaching situation of “But my way is better”

When you conduct transaction coaching – coaching to a specific transaction such as a call or live chat – it’s normal to have situations where Agents believe their way is ok.

And sometimes even better than what they’re asked to do by their company.

My first suggestion for the Coach is to listen to the Agent’s input without judging.

Remember that Agents do this for a living.  They may have great points and suggestions to make.

You may be listen and see that they bring some new thinking to a Customer conversation.

On the other hand, sometimes the Agent input is less about what’s better for the Customer and more about what is better for the Agent.

Or the Agent is resisting the change for some reason of their own.

Now let me carry on with our Roberta’s QA story.

The Agent, Deborah, has shared her input as to why it’s ok to ask, “May I have your good name…” instead of the company’s suggested approach.

Remember to first honor Deborah’s input –

“Thank you Deborah, I can see why you would support that phrasing.  I always appreciate Team Members with opinions because this means that you’re thinking about how we can deliver outstanding quality.”

Now transition your conversation over to the viewpoint of the organization.

I teach a 3 Parachute Technique when I share the organization’s viewpoint

If you skydive, they never strap a single parachute on your back.

There’s a ‘main’ parachute and then one or even two back-up parachutes.

So when you’re coaching, the first parachute represents the first thing you say.

And if the first parachute doesn’t open (or achieve the result), then you can proceed to pull the second parachute open.  And so on.

But if the first parachute opens – and achieves the result – then there’s no need to go further.  You don’t open the second parachute.

This approach is helpful for this particular common coaching challenge.

Let’s have a look at it in practice.

Parachute #1 comes first

“Deborah, each day when we come into work, we actively become part of  _____(name the organization). 

Through our individual efforts, we help bring ________’s vision, mission and objectives to life. 

In the case of the Contact Center and our quality standards, the Management Team worked hard to design the kind of Service that represents what we want to represent.

In the case of asking for the Customer Name, given our international audience, we implemented a consistent standard which is “May I know how to address you?”

While I honor your opinion, we have a responsibility to deliver the kind of Service we want to be known for here at ________, regardless of our personal opinion or experience.”

For some Agents, Parachute #1 may be enough!

If not then proceed to Parachute #2.

Parachute #2 comes, if needed, next

Remember to open Parachute #2 only if you believe it adds value to the Parachute #1 discussion.

“Deborah, do you know McDonald’s?  Starbucks?  Disney?  Great – I guess we all do. 

Can you imagine if someone who worked at Starbucks decided that they wanted to make a vanilla latte their own way? 

That they simply changed up the recipe or added an additional ingredient because they thought it would be better prepared their way?

Imagine if at Starbucks around the city, the country or even the world, the Baristas each began to make up their own recipes?  

Or at Disney the cartoon characters & mascots that wander the park can say and do whatever they want – even if that puts them out of character.  

Quality would be inconsistent.  All over the place.  The Customer would never know exactly what it was that they were going to get. 

Some suprises are not good. 

One of the ways companies such as ours impress their Customers is through consistency and design of how things are to be done.”  

When you’re sharing the approach of other well-known companies feel free to contextualize those to your location or region.

Just be sure that they represent ‘the best’.

Parachute #3, if needed, comes last

I urge caution here though my old VP of Contact Center Operations persona comes out here.  And represents my own personal tongue in cheek humour.

“Deborah, let’s put it this way. 

When you decide to open up your own coffee shop, service consultancy, insurance company, etc., you can select whatever standards you think will work well for you and your new company. 

And I’ll be the first person to come down, visit your business and talk to you and support your new business in whatever way I can.                        

But as long as we both work here and our paychecks say “_________”  on them, we have a responsibility, along with everyone here, to bring our company standards to life. 

So let’s move forward in our deli

very of our company’s quality and settle this point.



In closing

Coaches – don’t let the common coaching siutation of “But my way is better” throw you for a loop.

Not only can this common coaching challenge be managed, it’s an opportunity to build trust since you honor the Agent’s input.

Rather than argue about someone’s opinion which can be seen as personal and even disrespectful.

Transition the conversation to company quality.  And reach out for your 3 Parachutes – they can help.

Thank you for reading!

Thank you for taking the time to read this article today.

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Daniel Ord

[email protected] / www.omnitouchinternational.com

Customer Service
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