Technology has dramatically impacted coaching in these last years. These are five ways technology is changing coaching.
Worldwide Reach and Enhanced Program Delivery
The first and most obvious way that technology has impacted the coaching industry can be found in the breaking down of geographic barriers for program delivery. Coaches can service clients worldwide through video conferencing, and schedules no longer need to be disrupted because of the coach’s or client’s travel. As executive coach Rosalean Batool points out, this provides opportunities for increased or uncapped earning potential as coaches are no longer limited to the client base in their local market.
On this note, coaches and clients surveyed for this article overwhelmingly prefer video to audio coaching sessions. Coach Timothy Seeley CLC of TLS Legacy Coaching notes that video sessions allow him to
“pick up on the nuances of [clients’] moods and feelings through their body language. . . . With [video] technology, my coaching sessions are more engaging.”
Another of the more commonplace implications of technology on coaching is that it has made coaches more accessible to clients, using tools like email and instant messaging. This is a bit of a double-edged sword for coaches, who also need to establish and maintain boundaries for clients who regularly reach out in between scheduled coaching sessions. This dynamic provides one argument in favor of using all-in-one technology-enabled coaching platforms (see below) that keep all client communication, scheduling, and billing in one place, where it is easier to identify and address such issues.
Some of the benefits that technology brings to coaching programs are less obvious. For example, group coaching that brings in participants worldwide may surface more diverse perspectives than an in-person group coaching program drawing solely upon residents of a particular city. Coaches also welcome collaborative tools. Linda Lutz of Lutz Career Consultants notes that her clients seeking career advice or career changes benefit greatly from the ability to screen share in real-time when making or reviewing edits to a resume or LinkedIn page.
Finally, technology also helps coaches and clients capture more data that can be used to inform the coaching process. For example, Michon Pfeiffer, Senior Director of Health Coaching of StayWell, explains that the spread of wearable technology creates new and additional data that can be captured and analyzed. As a result, “more health coaches are [also] becoming health data experts” and health coaching is becoming more data-driven and effective.
Easier to get clients
Like in many businesses, online technology has made it easier for coaches to market themselves and attract clients, especially at a distance. As coach Katherine Bihlmeier puts it,
“I started my coaching business 20 years ago. . . . You needed to travel around, do introduction evenings and put in a lot more effort to meet clients and get noticed. With Facebook and other social media, I can reach out to so many more people (and getting new leads and customers costs so much less).”
More Crowded Marketplace
The flip side to it being easier for coaches to get clients is that this creates incentives for new coaches to enter the industry. As business coach Luisa Zhou states,
“the fact that technology has made it so easy to set up a coaching business is a double-edged sword: The industry gets a bad rap from people who aren't qualified to coach.”
That said, she adds that technology may also hold the solution to this dynamic, as coaching reviews become more accessible and standardized, which will neuter the effectiveness of marketing for substandard coaches and give productive coaches a chance to be recognized and to grow their practice.
In this more crowded marketing, one way that coaches can distinguish themselves is by helping measure the impact that they make with clients. As noted above, some fields like health coaching represent a large opportunity for measurement and allow coaches to measure outcomes for client health, stress, emotional regulation, and so on. In addition, as noted by Gina Curtis Executive Recruiting Manager & Career Coach at Employment BOOST, coaches and clients can also benefit from resources such as personality and motivation tests, self-assessments, quizzes, and 360 degree feedback, all of which imply measurement and the potential for measurable improvement.
Scaling and Program Delivery
Timothy Seeley also notes that technology has allowed him to structure his practice more efficiently.
“In the past, I was strictly a person who kept records on paper. The problem was that if I was not at the office I did not have access to the information. Now I keep most of my coaching records [on a secure platform online]. This provides me access wherever and whenever I need them.”
Similarly, coach Julieanne O'Connor notes that “everything from scheduling to connecting is now easily done virtually through technology platforms."
Applying technology to coaching has already led to a desire among coaches for all-inclusive coaching platforms. Kristin Wuhrman, VP of Business Development of Basepaws speaks of her company’s decision to use the all-in-one coaching platform awarenow.io as follows:
“we wanted to provide our customers with a branded modern portal where they can access all of their offerings - coaching programs, secure messaging, notes, journaling logs, forms and quizzes, e-content and blogs. And all of it to be easily manageable by our non-tech savvy team and coaches . . . . Literally everything is handled, from billing and scheduling to delivery and frequently-used resources, which allows our coaches to focus on what they do best: coaching”
Real estate investor coach Ryan G. Wright also observes that technology has helped him scale his practice:
“One of the biggest impacts for my particular set of [clients] is being able to record a conversation with one who is struggling and air it on my podcast, so that not only our students can benefit but we can reach a wider audience this way as well.”
Like many industries, the coaching field is profoundly impacted by technological changes, and will continue to be in the future. While some of these changes present challenges for coaches -- for example, increased competition from around the world or client expectations that coaches be available on-demand 24/7 -- these are outweighed by the many opportunities for coaches to grow their practice, make their coaching more effective, and, in the case of all-in-one coaching management platforms like awarenow.io, focus on coaching clients rather than internal administration. While technology is often disruptive, in the case of the coaching industry, we can impact its impact to be primarily positive.