8 leadership tips for contact centre managers

2nd Dec 2017

A former call center employee once remarked, “If, when I die, I go to Hell, I know that I will have to be a customer service rep for eternity.” Obviously, he did not have a good employment experience.

The turnover rate in call/contact centers is high. In fact, a recent Deloitte research report stated that high turnover was a major concern for organizations, at a time when 62% of those surveyed view the customer-service experience as key to maintaining a competitive edge.  Reducing turnover and providing accuracy and quality of information are the goals of 82% of those surveyed.

So, how does a call center manager achieve these goals? What leadership activities will foster employee tenure and give customers the right experience? Here are eight tips.

Get Personal

Your team has to know you as a person, not just a supervisor. And this goes both ways. Just as organizations now foster relationships with their customers, they should also understand that fostering the same types of relationships with employees is just as important. Your team members have to believe that you care about them as people. You should know about their families and their hobbies, so that you can occasionally ask a question about them.

Be on the Field

When his players are on the field, the coach is right there. When your team is “on the floor,” you need to be there too. Holing up in your office and just hoping things are going smoothly is not leadership – it is avoidance. You need to observe when a team member is having a difficult day or a particularly difficult call or chat. And if you have the right relationships established to begin with, they will tell you. They can’t tell you, however, if you are not there.

Get Your Hands Dirty

One of the keys to great leadership is to step in and do the job you are asking your team members to do. Spending a few hours a month on the phone or chat line will allow you to understand first-hand the challenges of the job and the types of issues your team faces. It will also give you key ideas about what types of training and development to plan. Perhaps your team needs empathy training – that’s a good place to begin.

Advocate for Resources

A good leader is also a servant. This means that you ensure your team members have the resources they need to do their jobs well. Outdated hardware or systems that are not maintained can frustrate employees and impact their attitude toward their job and the customers who need help. Go to bat and ensure that hardware is updated regularly. And as to system maintenance? Lobby your IT department to secure a good computerized maintenance management system, such as Limble CMMS, so that your team can work seamlessly.

Communication is Key

It’s a two-way street. You want your team to understand your goals and your vision for the department, and you need to communicate this personally. You also want them to feel comfortable communicating with you. They need to see you as non-judgmental but, rather, as someone who hears their issues and complaints and who works collaboratively with them to solve those things. Those in the trenches often have the best ideas for improvement and change. Honor every suggestion or idea, even if you do not end up implementing all of them.

Plan Events

It’s important to engage your team in a non-work environment. Are there any charitable initiatives in which some of your employees are involved? How about participating in those as a group. Are you planning recognition events and activities that reward employees for their service? Are you bringing in lunch every once in a while? These are the activities that show you care on a personal level and that serves to keep morale high.

Foster Comradery

As you spend time on the floor, observe the interaction among your team members. You will get a sense of the “politics” within the team, and both the bub-alliances and any tensions that may exist. When you have good “feel” for these, you can plan steps to correct negativity and tensions.

Read the Book, Fish

This is a fictional tale of a woman who has taken over a department that is completely dysfunctional and unproductive. One day, she stops by a fish market in Seattle (the fish market is real), where employees, despite their rather dirty and messy jobs, all work as a team and love what they do. She meets with the manager and takes his advice. Ultimately, she turns her department around.

Leadership is leadership, no matter what the environment and no matter what the tasks or projects involved. A call/contact center is a difficult department to manage and will take a strong and enthusiastic person at the helm. Be that strong and enthusiastic leader. It really is contagious. Remember this: you are responsible for great customer experiences. You are also responsible for great employee experiences.

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