Handling on Floor Confrontation in Your Call Center

June 3, 2019

Handling Supervisor-Associate Confrontation in Your Call Center

Sometimes an issue may arise on your team. Maybe someone isn’t in a good mood, or a team has an argument, maybe an associate isn’t receptive to feedback. It can be hard to deal with it a professional manner that won’t affect other agents or cause an ongoing incident. We’re going to go over five tips for dealing with confrontation in your call center.

1.    Supervisor Respect

Your supervisors need tools to succeed, and it’s your job to give them those tools. The biggest tool you can arm your supervisors with is a management training program. Invest the time early to train your supervisors to prevent issues from arising later.

Supervisors have to lead by example. They should show up early, dress the right way, and be knowledgeable. They have to be your leaders. Spend some time with them to motivate them and teach them to be leaders. It must be ongoing, not just a week of training.

2.    Be Sure Everyone Understands Expectations and Consequences

Most companies have a progressive discipline policy, which is a great idea. What happens when your policy is broken? There must be clear expectations and consequences spelled out.

Sit down and think about your policy in-depth. It should have layers: from warnings, to suspensions, to terminations. It should have a linear progression. Put it in writing, in your handbook, and make sure everyone understands it. All of your employees should be educated about this policy. Consider administering a test to be sure they understand.

You never want your HR team or your management to have to make subjective decisions for every circumstance. It should be already spelled out for them.  This can lead to issues with favoritism or cause issues between your associates and HR personnel.

3.    Handling Issues that Arise

If an issue arises, handle it immediately. Don’t let it linger or fester. All issues must be taken off the call center floor. Never have a confrontation or argument on the call center floor. Make sure that all issues are documented. You can have your associate go home and cool off and come in early to hash out the issue.

Sometimes you may experience more serious issues, like a physical altercation, or verbal abuse between an associate and a supervisor. You as the manager need to immediately break it up. Remove the two parties to different areas to cool off. Try to talk them down. Do not take sides. And don’t act like you know what happened.

Talk to the associate first. Don’t jump in and try to fix anything or offer advice yet. Just get as much information as you can. Go to talk to the supervisor and get their side. If your supervisors are appropriately trained, they should be handling situations like this exactly as they should be. If your manager is wrong, they should apologize and fix the issue. Send both parties home to cool off.

Once you have al the facts, have a review about the incident with senior management. This may result in a suspension. A physical fight should be an automatic termination. Your supervisor may sometimes be wrong, so be sure to be fair. If your supervisor is wrong, punish them. Don’t favor them just because they’re a supervisor. On the flip side, trust that you trained them well and they should know how to handle conflict.

4.    Know Your Associates

This doesn’t mean you need to be friends and hang out with your associates. Acknowledge that your associates are people. Get to know them a little bit. Understand how to motivate them. One person may like a high five, another may appreciate a simple nice word. Others may need to be pushed. Don’t treat your associates all the same.

5.    How Your Supervisors Manage Their Peers

Your call center associates see everything. The floor is a huge gossip area, and somehow everyone knows what’s going on with everyone. It’s important how supervisors interact with other supervisors.

If you have a cliquey group of supervisors who stick with each other and talk down about other supervisors, that culture permeates onto your call center floor. Make sure your management understands that how they treat each other directly affects how the reps are going to treat each other, and other supervisors.

No matter if you like someone, there must be respect. You don’t have to be friends. Your reps will see how you interact. If you interact in a negative way, they will think, consciously or unconsciously, that they have permission to interact that way too.

In Closing

The biggest takeaway from this is that properly training your middle management will help cut down on a lot of issues. It has to be ongoing education, encourage them to constantly learn and do better. Conflicts should be handled quickly and decisively. Don’t allow anything to fester. Following this advice will help keep an orderly, productive, and positive floor in your call center.

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