8 Contact Center Management Tips to Transform Your Call Center
Contact center success doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work, focus, and consistency. But most importantly, it takes a strategic approach to contact center management. With the right tips and advice, you can transform customer engagement in your call center.
Why You Need to Rethink Contact Center Management
Call centers can be stressful. There’s the pressure to reach KPIs, the need to support your business or the businesses you work with, and operations you need to manage as well.
Next comes the human side of things. After all, you’re working with your agents who are dealing with the stresses of meeting sales goals while dealing with potentially challenging, angry customers. That attitude can be contagious. So, if you’re not careful, it could end up spilling over and impacting the overall performance of your call center.
To transform your call center, you need to rethink your approach to contact center management. It’s time to take a step back and see how you can implement these 8 contact center management tips.
This guide will show you how to be successful in everything from hiring to managing your team’s performance.
1. Define Your Call Center Culture
Your call center culture sets the guardrails and tone for how your agents operate. But defining your workplace culture isn’t easy. You need to take a step back and think about what your overall business goals are, what’s achievable, and what mindsets inhibit progress.
Your goal needs to be achievable. Too much change, too fast and you risk watching your efforts fall apart. Think of change incrementally instead. You want to slowly change operations in your call center to support your end goals in a way that your team will approve of and appreciate.
Start with your end goal: how do you envision your call center? What needs to change? And how do these changes line up with your business objectives?
From there, you should backward design your roadmap for changes in your workplace culture. Next, break it out into achievable phases. Aim for 6 weeks per phase and give yourself at least two weeks of gap between phases. This will give you time to evaluate successes, challenges, and insights that you can deploy in future phases.
Be sure to incentivize changes by illustrating for your call center agents what exactly is in it for them. Don’t expect them to change unless you show them how these workplace improvements will make their jobs easier, less stressful, and more productive. (If you try to pursue change for the sake of change, you’ll get a lot of pushback instead.)
Questions to Ask When Defining Call Center Culture:
- What are our business goals?
- Where are our strengths?
- What are our weaknesses?
- How can we make sure we don’t lose sight of our goals during the transition?
- What systems or guardrails do we need in place to ensure success?
- How do we motivate our agents to embrace change?
- How will we support our team members who struggle with adapting to change?
- Are there any tools out there that can make our agents’ work easier?
- How will management support this new workplace culture?
- How will we gauge the success of our changes (KPIs)?
Management’s Role in Defining Workplace Culture
One critical aspect of defining your call center culture is to define the atmosphere of your organization. Analyze the atmosphere in your workplace and ask yourself if it can support the changes that need to happen in your call center. Or, does there need to be a shift in the atmosphere/attitude as well?
Your call center atmosphere is what people “feel” when they’re working in your organization. Should the overall management style be lenient, strict, or fun?
There is no right or wrong answer. However, you need to be uniform across the board. Consistency is key here. And they need to line up. Otherwise, they’ll work against each other and slow down your call center transformation and results.
2. Hire Based on Your Call Center’s Culture
Once you’ve defined your call center culture and aligned it to your business goals, you need to hire the right agents. But, who are the best candidates to work in a call center?
Effective Call Center Agents Have:
- A background in providing excellent customer service
- Emotional intelligence so they can diffuse agitated customers
- Great communication skills and are willing to honestly share their insights
- Problem-solving skills so they can apply established guidelines to a range of situations
- The ability to self-policy their actions and hold themselves accountable
- A desire to improve their performance.
- A willingness to work within a team and support the overall business goals
- The right mindset for the call center culture your business needs
Call center turnover is high because being an agent can be stressful without the right systems in place. But you also need the right team players working together to bring about the lasting change and success your organization needs.
If leadership is buying into your company’s culture, you will have a great call center, and your employees will carry the baton. The employees will be the ones self-policing and pushing that culture. As such, you will want to refine your hiring process in response to your newly defined company culture.
For most organizations, a fit is simply someone who can do the job. That isn’t the best approach. You need to go deeper than glancing at a few resumes to see if the person checks a few boxes.
Instead, you need to look for someone who is the right person for your organization based on the call center culture you need. So, how do you find those people?
Leveraging Social Media for Better Hires
An easy way to attract suitable candidates is to clearly define your brand on social media. Create and manage your own social media page, for example. That will help prospective employees see what’s happening inside your organization. They’ll get a taste for what work’s like in your call center and they’ll reach out to you.
3. Maintain Positive Employee Engagement
One of the best ways to foster a pleasant work environment in your call center is to maintain positive engagement with your call center reps. As mentioned earlier, call centers are difficult places to work. Your agents have to work with customers facing challenges. Their mission is to diffuse tension and ensure brand loyalty. It’s not an easy task.
There are a lot of ways you can engage your employees positively. Whether you take time out of your day to check in with your agents or you have regular team building activities depends on your goals and needs.
Either way, it’s key to make sure your agents feel as though they’re part of a team that’s there to support them. That way, they stay motivated and perform at a high level.
4. Control the First 30 Minutes of the Day
At Expivia, the supervisor controls the first 30 minutes of an associate’s day. The goal here is to start the day with the right mindset and energy. Plus, it’s a great time to address any problems before they get the chance to start. That energy carries over through the day, and this period of time gives agents a place they can return to mentally when they face challenges.
Our supervisors use these first thirty minutes to create an electric atmosphere filled with upbeat enthusiasm. They also use the time to review the prior workday and discuss any challenges or issues that they may face in the day ahead. After that, we set the tone for the workday ahead.
5. Create a Call Center Leadership Group and Suggestion Board
Your call center agents need to be heard. They’re the ones doing the heavy lifting in your call center. As a result, they have unique experiences and insights they can share with leadership to further improve the call center experience for everyone.
Leadership groups and suggestion boards help amplify your agents’ voice. They allow agents to share their ideas in a way that gives them a chance to be heard. And it helps management gain insight into the daily challenges their agents face.
Here’s how to set up each:
- Leadership Group: Designate a group of reps that will meet monthly to discuss workplace issues, new equipment or technologies, call center concerns, and any tips or strategies they’ve developed that could improve performance.
- Employee Suggestion Boards: Suggestion boards or boxes give your agents a way to share their ideas with management. These should be accessible and management should review ideas and discuss them.
Your contact center management teams should evaluate the concerns brought to them through these channels. And they should either decide to pursue these suggestions or table them with the team. Whatever the outcome, they should share their reasoning with the team so they feel heard and respected.
6. Create Call Center Committees
Committees are a great way to foster a positive workplace culture and encourage team building. When your agents feel like they belong to a team, they perform better, enjoy work more, and find healthy ways of releasing stress. You do not want your agents to feel alone. That leads to high turnover, poor performance, and other negative outcomes.
Expivia hosts three central committees:
- Games Committee: Sets up fun, engaging, and motivating games for team members to play based on their interest.
- Equipment Committee: Manages and handles call center equipment.
- Welcome Committee: Welcomes new employees, provides guidance, and helps them forge lasting, professional relationships with other team members.
7. Rotate Management Trainees and Leads
Your management team should know the ins and outs of your call center agents’ jobs and the situations they have to navigate daily. The more they understand about the role, the better they are at coming up with ways to increase productivity while reducing stressors.
At Expivia, our management trainees shadow HR for a week. This gives them direct insights into what our call center agents face on a day-to-day basis. Plus, it helps them understand how difficult situations need to be managed.
The more your managers know about who your agents are and what challenges they face, the better position they’ll be in to manage your contact center more effectively.
8. Remain Consistent
You are the leader.
You can either enhance your call center or be the person who stiffles change. After all, if you don’t embrace positive change from the top down, it will not last. The key is to be on board, to be the driving force of change, and to be consistent. If you don’t adhere to the guidelines you set for your contact center management, your agents will never follow.
Look around on your call center floor. Ask yourself if your employees are enjoying themselves. Give your employees a chance to share their thoughts anonymously. Look at your employee turnover. Speak to your management. Listen to your customer reviews. Evaluate your call center performance. Finally, compare all that data to your business objectives.
What does it tell you?
If it doesn’t line up, then you need to make changes. But for any change to last, it needs to be backed by data, have effective change management, and be consistent across the board.
You may experience some pushback in the process. However, you have to stay the course and focus on bringing those data points into alignment with your business objectives over time. That is the true measurement of contact center management success.
What did you learn as a call center leader?
Share your insights in the comments below!