Title: The Telephone Skills Coaching Manual
Author: Pat Cochrane
Volume One: Key Telephone Skills and Inbound Calls
ISBN 0 566 08300 0
Volume Two: Outbound Calls
ISBN 0 566 08301 9
(Two Volume Set : ISBN 0 566 08302 7)
Volume One £195.00
Volume Two £195.00
Both Volumes £350.00
My postman is not a happy man. Delivering these two weighty tomes with the rest of the mail caused him some problems. Not that I blame him, they are very heavy and not for carrying easily from place to place. For that reason alone I would have to say that they are aimed at the company trainer as opposed to the external training provider.
Within the two manuals are a wealth of handouts, worksheets, OHP's and guidance notes on just about every element of using the telephone in business. The contents listing follows typical training headings, such as; 'The power of positive language' or 'Building rapport with the customer'. Then a separate worksheet index sets out all the additional aids. So far so good. Did I read them cover to cover? No. These are manuals to be used not read. Pat Cochrane has provided within the 800 or so pages almost everything the experienced and not so experienced trainer will need to conduct short or long sessions. She includes a basic training needs analysis, pre-session and post-session checklists, top tips and how to introduce the session.
As I said to start with, I think that these manuals would be best suited to the company trainer where they can be used to meet any training need identified. Also, to be fair, any manager who carries out training or coaching with a large team. Training providers who have standard (off the shelf) programmes or create bespoke solutions will find much they already use or know. I certainly couldn't see myself following the almost scripted instructions:
'Introduce the session….Begin with….Now ask….Now ask the third question….Distribute the worksheet….Ask for examples….Summarise the main points'.
The above is not intended as a criticism, merely an observation. Pat does the work for you. Many managers and trainers will welcome these manuals as the answer to their prayers. The material covers a wide variety of telephone situations suitable for receptionists, call centre or telephone sales teams, credit control staff and 'gatekeepers'. Most of the sessions help the trainees build on their own experiences or share their successes and then practise new skills and techniques. Quite simply - What's the need? Find the section that covers it. Copy the handouts or OHP's. Deliver as set out.
If I had one tiny criticism and it is a minor one, it would be this. At the end Pat provides a simple quiz to test understanding. Two of the questions attracted my attention, one on open and closed questions, one on matching the caller. I wanted to check how up to date Pat was on these two areas. Could I easily find the sections that actually covered the topics? No! So a handy addition to the manuals, for my benefit, must be a more concise index at the end. This really is a minor gripe when you consider that I am normally a very difficult person to please, hyper-critical of most things and a total cynic. I was very impressed with Pat's work in both content and presentation.
Value for money? Yes. Business books, while much less expensive, go nowhere into the same depth. Many videos twice the cost skate over the surface and then leave the trainer to put together related exercises. For the equivalent price of sending one member of staff on a one day training programme you will be getting many days and months, if not years, of training solutions.