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What Consumers Know about Coaching

Coaching consumer opinionsThe International Coach Federation recently released their 2014 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study.  The survey was done in 16 languages and utilized responses from nearly 19,000 individuals in 25 countries.  The study is an insightful look at how coaches and consumers see “coaching” in the marketplace.  The Executive Summary has its set of conclusions (p. 29).  Here are the four most important takeaways I had.

Coaching is a global phenomenon.   The size of the study is one indication of this.  Overall, nearly 60% of consumers are aware of professional business and/or life coaching.  17% (that’s nearly 1 in 5!) have participated in a coaching relationship. And participation is growing.

Consumers understand coaching as a definable activity.  Among the 60% of the population aware of coaching, there is also an awareness that coaching is distinct from mentoring, consulting, training, and counseling. The implications of this are important.

  • Distinct content lets you be a professional coach; you are distinct from counselors, trainers, etc.
  • Your prospective clients can see a difference between real coaching from a coach and quasi-coaching from someone claiming to be a coach.
  • The profession can develop best practices.  A good example of this is the ICF creation of evaluation markers to be used by assessors in awarding credentials.

The reasons for hiring a coach are becoming clearer. Are you a coach struggling to find clients?  Find out which reason they have and then speak to it.  New coaches often struggle with finding the right reasons to give.  Instead of being creative, you now have the opportunity reach into the consumer’s awareness of coaching to find the reasons they have.  What’s the most common reason?  “Defining strengths and weaknesses within oneself” is the reason for nearly have of those seeking coaching.  “Optimize individual/team work performance” is the most frequently cited reason for participating in a coaching relationship.

The more professional coaches produce more customer satisfaction.  For coaches, this is very good news.  The statistics on this make the conclusion a no brainer.  37% of all consumers were very satisfied regardless of the credential.  However, among the customers who were very satisfied with their coaching:

  • Of those who had a coach with a credential, 49% were very satisfied.
  • Of those who had a coach without a credential, 29% were very satisfied.

A 20% difference is very telling.  Credentialed coaches meet their clients needs much better than other types of coaches.

What do you think?  When you look for a coach, what criteria show u on your radar?

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