Providing excellent customer service is critical to succeeding in today’s competitive environment. Interestingly, line managers who rely on facilitative and empowering techniques in their interactions with front-line staff, as opposed to directive and prescriptive ones, might be better positioned to help their reports improve performance against organizational goals.
COACHING AND ORGANIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE
Wheeler (2011) investigated whether informal coaching delivered by trained front-line managers would improve customer service. She conducted interviews and examined organizational documents a year after organizational goals had been set, and front-line staff and their managers had received training on coaching skills.
Wheeler concluded that, to varying degrees, the managers were practicing the following coaching behaviors one year after they received training: helping staff through information and resource provision, encouraging staff to take ownership of performance, modeling excellent customer service or facilitating role modeling through the observation of high performing staff members, and utilizing various coaching dialoguing techniques (e.g., soliciting and providing feedback, holding back answers allowing employees to identify solutions, and utilizing question framing and perspective broadening/change). More interestingly, she found that sites with managers who were adopting dialoguing techniques had higher sales performance than sites with little or no evidence of these coaching behaviors.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Due to the qualitative nature of the study (i.e., observational and not data-based) these findings are not conclusive. However, they suggest that when it comes to coaching behaviors and customer service, we may be on to something. For those on the front-line, coaching behaviors – particularly dialoguing techniques – may just become part of the toolkit for customer service improvement.
Wheeler, L. (2011). How Does the Adoption of Coaching Behaviours by Line Managers Contribute to the Achievement of Organisational Goals? International Journal of Evidence Based Coach Mentor, 9.