Call center managers have a tough job to do. They need to have a strategic vision, make difficult decisions, and keep agents engaged and happy.
Great call center managers can align agents, resources, and systems to meet strategic goals. What are some qualities of great call center managers? What are their good habits and the actions they take every day to lead their teams, help them grow, and get noticed or promoted?
What Makes a Manager Great?
Hiring the right people
Nearly three in four managers have been affected by a bad hire according to a Carrerbuilder.com study. The average cost of one bad hire is nearly $15,000; the average cost of losing a good hire is nearly $30,000! The importance of scouting the right talent, not just for experience fit but culture fit, too, can’t be overstated.
To really drive the point home, two in three workers say they have accepted a job and later realized it was a bad fit, with half of those workers quitting within six months.
Clearly, agent recruitment is one of the most important tasks call center managers have. Hiring the right people is the first step in creating a team that will consistently deliver great customer service. Training and understanding of your organization’s broad goals are easiest when managers demonstrate:
- High EQ: Possess clear communication skills and high emotional intelligence (EQ)
- Decisiveness: Having a must-have criteria list so candidates can be objectively evaluated
- A hands-on approach: Give candidates and team members a real-time look at the job through shadowing and trials.
Keeping agents around
One of the biggest challenges for call center managers is retaining the agents they hire. Customer service is a challenging field to work in. Agents must resolve issues, navigate emotional interactions, and meet benchmarks. Overall attrition averages for the call center industry range between 30 and 45 percent.
But, the fact of the matter is: your call center benefits from experience. Veteran agents have deep knowledge of your organization, your expectations, and your customers. Great call center managers understand this and strive to retain every agent in your customer support team. They:
- Make sure the right tools are available when agents need them
- Keep agents engaged
- Empower agents by giving them more autonomy
- Create an atmosphere where questions are encouraged and training is viewed as an opportunity for growth.
Intrinsically motivating agents
Global studies reveal that 79 percent of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as their reason for leaving.
Great managers strive to motivate their agents intrinsically. They also give credit where credit is due for a job well done. When managers create a space in which good work is actively recognized rather than just reacting to poor performance, they cultivate an environment which grows happy, high-performing agents naturally..
Managers can intrinsically motivate your agents by acknowledging when they are doing something right. They can leverage speech analytics during call monitoring to call out specific things that went right in a conversation. This encourages agents to keep up positive behaviors. It gives them a boost of “feel-good energy” that can be associated with positive customer service actions. And, having actively sought out best-practice, managers are in a position to learn from it, and scale it across their teams.
Feedback, as an opportunity for agents to learn from things they did well, and things they did not-so-well, is the backbone of improving customer experience. But that feedback is meaningless without an actionable follow-up.
Great call center managers use feedback as training opportunities and encourage continuous growth among agents. They never give feedback without an actionable path for correction.
With speech analytics, managers are able to identify and listen to their agents’ most important calls that are most accurately indicative of their performance and then offer precise, data-backed feedback about conversations. Past interactions become examples of what to do right or what went wrong. As agents build off of each conversation, your call center’s ability to provide positive experiences increases.
Socializing performance data
The importance of metrics is undeniable. They provide quantifiable insight into performance and a path for how to improve your call center. Monitoring the right metrics is important for maintaining and improving customer satisfaction.
The responsibility of deciding which metrics to monitor rests in your call center managers’ hands. Do they rely on traditional metrics like average handle time? Or do they drill down into nitty-gritty key performance indicators (KPIs) using scorecards? Once the metrics are decided, how do they ensure they are reporting accurately?
When making these decisions, great call center managers don’t shy away from using analysis tools. Leveraging software helps them target what metrics they should be monitoring to accurately gauge the health of your customer service operation.
Call center software powered by AI helps call center managers report more accurately and bring more insight to reviews.
Communicating across channels
Communication channels the call center uses are no longer restricted to voice and email. A survey by Nielsen found that 64% of participants prefer to communicate using SMS messaging. AI-driven messaging with bots and live chat are also on the rise.
Great call center managers focus on how all of these channels relate and understand the benefits of seamless customer engagement. They understand that a successful customer journey happens across channels and strive to unify them. They leverage tools that provide knowledge and insight at every touchpoint.
Handling inbound volume surges
Inbound volume surges can be detrimental to customer satisfaction if your call center isn’t able to handle them. It falls to managers to make sure your call center is properly staffed.
Great call center managers leverage predictive analytics to determine when they need more agents on call. They also do not shy away from overstaffing. Managers can take advantage of idle time by assigning tasks like follow-up calls and self-assessments.
Walking the line
Call center performance management is a balancing act. You have to make sure your agents are engaged while at the same time maintaining meeting customers’ expectations
A good manager in any field, especially fast-paced spaces like customer service contact centers, leverages technology to see the big picture more clearly. They rely on metrics powered by AI technologies to create actionable plans. Successful management teams focus on continuous improvement of both the customer and agent experience.