Off Center
 
If you are looking for a way to engage your agents and improve performance without having it interfere with your nap time, have I got the solution for you:

Peer mentoring.

It’s one of the most effective and affordable agent development tools around – one that empowers your best and most experienced agents while simultaneously keeping your newer agents from getting laughed at too much by the quality monitoring team.

Most contact centers that have implemented a peer mentoring initiative report shorter learning curves, increased performance, and lower turnover among new hires, as well as a strong sense of "I no longer hate my job" among experienced staff.   



 Agent-on-Agent Education

Peer mentoring typically involves pairing up a rookie rep (protégé or “mentee”) with a veteran one (mentor) for several weeks or months after the former completes their initial training. In some centers, the mentoring relationship begins during training, thus giving the protégé a dedicated shoulder to cry on even before getting screamed at by their first caller.

Protégés sit with their mentor and practice the tactics they have learned in training or on the show Outsourced and receive invaluable feedback and tips from their experienced colleague. In addition to gaining insight and skills from the most knowledgeable people in your contact center, new agents often form a strong bond with their mentor, which helps to cut down on early attrition and assaults on supervisors and schedulers.     

As already alluded to, it isn’t just the new agents (and the contact center) that benefit from mentoring; mentors themselves truly appreciate that management recognizes the value of their skills and knowledge. Mentors also enjoy the job diversity and time offline that mentoring provides, not to mention having somebody to fetch their coffee in the morning. 



The Mentoring Scheduling Conundrum

One of the biggest challenges involved in running a successful mentoring program is scheduling. Since mentors are typically among the center’s best agents (if you’re doing it right), it’s critical not to have too many of them working offline with their respective protégés, or to have any of them offline during peak volume periods.

This problem can often be solved by having a solid workforce management (forecasting/scheduling) process in place, and by instilling a “queue is king” mentality among mentors. Make sure they know to keep an eye on the queue whenever offline, and that it’s okay to knock over even elderly managers or visitors while sprinting back to their workstations whenever certain queue thresholds are reached.



Choosing the Right Mentors

When selecting who will serve as mentors, it’s important to note that the most talented and experienced agents don’t necessarily make the best teachers. For example, studies have shown that many of the highest caliber tech support reps carry knives and collect human teeth.

Contact centers with the most successful mentoring programs have a formal mentor selection process in place. These centers typically have candidates interview for the position, take behavioral tests, or even complete some form of certification program. Each candidate’s results are compared against an “ideal mentor” profile to ensure that those selected are skilled, dependable, personable, autonomous, and have never punched a colleague in the head.


I’d love to hear some of your experiences with peer mentoring, but only the positive ones that support my points. Otherwise, people will start to figure out that I really don’t know what I’m talking about.


Vamsi Krishna Inti
6/3/2011 02:46:37 am

I ve been a mentor in callcenter and have realized the importance of the role. Thanks to my company for adopting the mentorship culture in my organization.

As a mentor: I was shared best partices witn the new hire. I acted as a bridge between traning and go live phase, ensure the new hire was comfortable with the process right from the very first call.

What was in if for me: I had a chance to groom my self on areas of coaching, Adult learning techniques, people management. This has helped me perform my current role as a team lead with more ease and effectiveness.

Reply
Vamsi Krishna Inti
6/3/2011 02:49:49 am

I ve shared**

What was in it for me**

Apologize for my typos

Reply
6/3/2011 03:05:06 am

Thanks so much for sharing your personal experiences as a mentor, Vamsi. It's great to hear from an actual agent who has seen the power of peer mentoring first-hand on the front line.

I wish you and your organization continued success!

Regards,

Greg

Reply
6/3/2011 07:25:31 am

Greg,
Back in my retail days I had similar success with this type of program. You do an excellent job of highlighting the benefits and challenges of this program. I also found that new associates are more comfortable asking questions of a "peer" than of a supervisor. Furthermore you're planting the seeds of a potential friendship between the new-hire and the mentor, which Gallup has proven is one of the keys to employee engagement.
Nice job!

Lee

Reply
6/3/2011 08:00:38 am

I appreciate your kind comments and valuable input, Lee. Right you are -- peer mentoring definitely fosters a strong sense of camaraderie between mentor and protege, and such bonds can have a big impact on new-hire retention.

Have a great weekend!

Reply
Mark Moore
1/21/2013 11:11:29 pm

For those of you that have a mentorship program, are your mentors incented? If so how is the trainee tested to ensure that the training process was successful?

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