It’s no secret that call centre managers have an inherently tough job; between managing a team of agents and juggling a plethora of deadlines and goals, managers in the industry have their work cut out for them. The high-pressure call centre environment tends to foster a ‘sink or swim’ mentality, with many succeeding while others struggle to keep the chaos at bay.
So, how do you define the hallmarks of a successful call centre manager? I'm going to explore five crucial qualities all successful call centre managers have in common - giving you the know-how you need to keep your agents happy and engaged, while keeping your call centre running like a well-oiled machine.
1. They talk to their team
We’ve all experienced a distant leader at some point during our careers - the manager who sits in their private office for seven hours a day, leaving only to replenish their dwindling instant coffee supply. These managers ignore the incredible value that open communication channels can provide in a call centre environment - allowing agents to voice both concerns and ideas, for the benefit of internal processes as well as customer service.
A truly successful call centre manager places an emphasis on the simplest and most powerful means of communication: talking. Naturally, emails and phone calls have their place - but the value of a face-to-face discussion is unparalleled when it comes to improving motivation and, subsequently, productivity. Taking the time to listen to and engage with members of your team will allow you to strengthen these relationships, while gathering all-important staff feedback - ultimately improving your call centre processes in the long run.
2. They lead by example
An effective leader must demonstrate their own aptitude and inspire their team to follow suit - leading by example to motivate and encourage their workforce. Managers who don’t practice what they preach risk losing the trust of their team, so it’s well worth taking the time to show your agents the ropes and help out wherever you’re needed.
Leading your team from the front line doesn’t have to be time-consuming, either. Taking a few minutes out of your schedule a couple of times a day to assist a member of your team with a particularly difficult call or advise on a subject they’re unsure of will solidify your position as a strong and capable leader - inspiring others to follow suit.
3. They show their support
Empathy is a sign of any great leader, and showing you truly care about the progression and motivation of your team is a sure-fire way to inspire others to do their very best. Support comes in many forms - from ensuring staff have the right training to perform their job effectively to providing the necessary tools they need to be confident in their role - but however you choose to support your staff, it’s crucial that they feel they have a network available to them.
An effective approach utilised in many call centres is to create a resource library in the content management system, so that agents have access to a network of product, industry and customer-related information during their ‘idle time’. Providing this resource will not only improve productivity, but also ensure that any periods where agents are not on the phone can be utilised to improve their skills and knowledge.
Offering support can be as simple as speaking to the team on a personal level, deepening the relationship and demonstrating your ability to empathise on a one-on-one basis. It’s important to understand the personal issues that your team members face; the best managers know they’re not the only ones who experience stress, and offering support to those who are struggling shows you really care about your team.
4. They keep things fresh
Monotony is the enemy of motivation, and introducing a sense of variety to your agents’ day-to-day routine will keep things fresh and give your team a welcome motivation boost. Shaking up the office environment can be tricky - particularly in the inherently repetitive call centre environment - but there are tactics used by the best managers in the industry that can have a powerful positive effect on productivity.
In call centres servicing a number of clients or promoting a range of different services, having agents switch campaigns halfway through the day can be effective when it comes to improving morale and keeping your agents on their toes. This way, you can encourage your team to expand their skill set - improving the adaptability of your workforce as a whole.
Better yet, keep your incentives fresh by updating reward schemes in the workplace - offering additional cash bonuses for exceptional work, or adding exciting alternative rewards to the mix to ensure that your staff are always motivated and striving for professional excellence.
5. They hold onto top talent
Retaining top talent is a constant struggle in call centres, so it’s no surprise that improving employee retention is often top of the call centre manager’s priority list. The ever-present threat of employee attrition is often wrongly labelled as a problem rather than a symptom - and there are a number of simple, effective steps managers can take to hold onto top talent.
Again, keeping things fresh is essential when it comes to keeping team members invested in and stimulated by their role. Actively encouraging your staff to sharpen their skills and expand their knowledge base is essential - especially in the case of ambitious employees, who may look to leave if the development opportunities available to them don’t present a fulfilling future.
Talking to your team is, again, critical if you’re looking to learn more about their wants and needs and discuss these further. Taking the time to speak to staff and find out how they’d like to progress within the company demonstrates not only that there’s room for growth, but also that you’re actively considering how their role can evolve, should they remain a part of the team.
High-pressure situations are part and parcel of working in a call centre environment - and managers ready to embrace true leadership (and everything that comes with it) can provide a vital lifeline to their agents. Successful call centre managers are independent leaders, just as capable of getting on the phone during call surges as they are of working with individual team members to help them achieve their personal definition of success. Productivity starts with professional satisfaction - and with our guide, you can ensure your team remains happy and engaged in the weeks, months and years ahead.