If you want to have a prosperous and productive call center, it has to start from the top down. Your agents cannot create positive customer experiences unless they have effective and successful call center management.
It is the job of call center managers to motivate, encourage, and help agents do their jobs effectively. Managers are the ones that hold the overall call center accountable for establishing strategic business goals and meeting deadlines. Unfortunately, managers are often overlooked when it comes to improving call center performance, when, in fact, they are a crucial part of the overall success of the call center.
In this article, we’re breaking down how to manage a call center efficiently by applying the ten best practices every call center manager should follow.
How to Manage a Call Center Efficiently
If you want to manage a call center efficiently and effectively, there are a few best practices your management team needs to follow.
1. Hire the Right Employees—Look for Emotional Intelligence
Managers are only as good as the team they have behind them. That’s why it’s essential to hire the right call center agents who have the necessary hard and soft skills to get their job done. This requires your managers to put plenty of time and energy into the hiring process when it comes to reviewing resumes, interviewing, and checking references.
In particular, managers should focus on hiring employees who demonstrate customer service soft skills such as adaptability, initiative, teamwork, empathy, integrity, problem-solving, communication skills, and emotional intelligence. It’s these skills—though hard to measure—that are the best indicators of success within the call center. The key is to come up with the list of soft skills most needed within your team and then to hire employees who possess these desired attributes.
2. Thoroughly Onboard and Train Your Agents
Once you’ve hired the right call center agents, your job as a call center manager isn’t done. It’s only the beginning. Successful call center management requires that you train your team to perform at its best. This starts with a thorough onboarding process, regular training, self assessment and monitoring throughout their employment with your call center.
Both poor performers and best-in-class agents require ongoing training and coaching. The difference is how often you conduct training and the strategic focus of your training.
For poor performing agents, training should be based upon any negative customer feedback and on their QA scorecard evaluations. Using performance data, you should focus your efforts on which soft and hard skills require improvement, and in-turn provide them with coaching to fill those training gaps.
For everyone else, there should still be a commitment to regular training, coaching, with an emphasis on self assessment and scoring. It should not be a once-in-a-while action but a consistent part of your call center management best practices. By continually working on your agents’ skills from the moment they’re on-boarded, you can have a long-term impact on the customer experience and your NPS. Not to mention, that empowered agents will continue to strive for excellence and go the extra mile.
3. Demonstrate Call Center Manager Skills: Emotional Intelligence
According to the Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, emotional intelligence is the most important element that leads to effective leadership. The research paper reveals that emotionally intelligent leaders make better decisions in the workplace and creates a culture of learning, which is proven to boost employee satisfaction and customer service.
To demonstrate emotional intelligence as part of your call center management style, you need to:
- Listen to your agents and be sensitive to their needs and challenges
- Demonstrate empathy when problems arise
- Resolve conflict calmly
- Communicate your feedback, KPIs, and goals thoroughly
- Create a more collaborative and productive environment
- Anticipate agent requests/questions
- Educate your team through continual training
- Reward them for a job well done
4. Focus on Employee Engagement
Engaged employees are happy employees. They are more productive, motivated, innovative, and loyal— so they’re more likely to stick around. However, the sad fact is that only 34 percent of employees are engaged in the workplace, according to a recent Gallup survey. And, while this is a significant increase from two years ago when engagement was at just 15 percent, it indicates that managers still have a long way to go.
Successful call center management requires you to prioritize employee engagement as the central tenant of your management strategy. What this means is that you need to:
- Provide clear expectations, including goals and KPIs, so that your agents know what they are working toward.
- Support your agents’ efforts through tools, onboarding, and training.
- Offer regular feedback—both positive and negative. Scorebuddy’s real-time QA forms are a great way to do this daily.
- Listen to your agents’ feedback, allowing their voices to be heard during decision-making.
- Demonstrate emotional intelligence—as described above—so that your employees feel respected and empowered.
5. Develop a Highly Communicative Call Center Management Style
As we explained under employee engagement, listening to your agents and allowing their voices to be heard is critical to success. But listening is a two-way street. For this to be effective, it needs to be an important part of management's holistic style of communication within the call center.
As a manager, you should create plenty of opportunities, including scheduled sessions, where you can meet with your agents to share ideas, discuss performance ands goals. By developing a communicative call center management style, you give your agents an outlet to share their ideas and provide you with an opportunity to communicate your thoughts and impressions on their performance.
6. Routinely Listen to Agent Calls
If you’re not routinely listening to recorded calls, you will not have the ability to assess strengths and weaknesses in the call center which hinders your capacity to successfully manage it. By implementing a QA compliance scorecard such as Scorebuddy, you can prioritize calls based on performance—those that scored well and those that missed the mark entirely—so you don’t waste your time on inefficient learning tools. And from there, you can highlight which customer-centric actions achieved positive results and which failed.
The end goal of listening to agent calls should be to evaluate if your customer service agents are achieving the customer experience objectives and achieving the NPS that you desire. After carefully reviewing and evaluating these interactions this provides you with the insights to highlight call center trends, and then use it as part of your regular training and onboarding regimen.
7. Measure Call Center QA Daily for Successful Call Center Management
If you want to know how to manage a call center efficiently, you first have to have a deep understanding of how you’re performing, and that requires daily quality assurance. QA helps you assess how your call center—your agents, leaders, and customers—are doing. In this way, you can determine what adjustments are needed and where. It gives you a starting point for improvement.
Using a streamlined internal quality assurance process and software, such as Scorebuddy, you can assess every interaction in real-time. It helps you drill down into patterns and trends across your call center—individually and collectively—so you can create positive change. Furthermore, you can utilize the Analytics suite to do a deep dive into your data to aid you with insights, in order to better understand the performance of your call center as a whole.
8. Engage with Customers—Promoters, Detractors, and Passives
As a manager, you might wrongly assume that you don’t have to engage with your customers unless something goes wrong and your expertise is needed. However, that’s not the case at all. One of the most essential call center manager skills is the ability to respond to customer feedback, both good and bad.
You need to:
- Follow up with your Promoters to thank them for their loyalty and to demonstrate your company’s continued commitment to their satisfaction.
- Contact your Detractors to learn more about how your call center team could improve their actions to better meet the customers’ needs.
- Stay in touch with your Passives to find both small and large ways to better solve problems, so that you can move these customers up the scale to Promoters.
9. Track KPIs and Focus on the Data
Decision-making must be backed up by solid data. As a manager, it’s essential that you’re familiar with the most critical performance metrics in your call center—based on KPIs—and that you use that data to gain insight into your operations. The key is to measure the correct data based on your business’s strategic objectives and goals. Then, you need a way to analyze, interpret, and share the data in a way that results in action.
Within your strategic call center data framework, you should focus on:
- Net Promoter Score® (NPS) metrics
- Customer Satisfaction (CSat) indicators
- Agent self-scoring data via Scorebuddy scorecards
- First call resolution
- Call abandonment
- Average handling time
- Call resolution
- Critical KPIs as outlined by your QA strategy
10. Incentivize Your Top Performers
More than three out of four people (79 percent) quit their jobs because they do not feel appreciated, according to global studies. The reason for this is that employees don’t feel like they’re making an impact on the business or that management is not aware of their efforts, so effectively they just throw in the towel and leave. If you want to be a successful call center manager, you have to remember that people don’t leave companies; they leave poor leaders.
One way to combat this dilemma is to motivate your agents by praising top-performers and incentivizing them to continue their exceptional work. This can come in the form of contests, rewards, even a day off in-lieu, there are many ways to motivate your employees and help them feel appreciated for the work that they do. When your employees feel appreciated, they will go the extra mile for you.
Improve Your ROI with these Call Center Management Best Practices
The call center management best practices we mentioned above barely touch the surface of what it takes to be a successful manager. We could continue to list critical management skills for pages and pages, covering everything from balancing agent workflow to knowing the ins and outs of your business.
However, the ten tips we offered above, for how to manage a call center efficiently, are the most critical to a call center manager’s success. They dive into the data, training, soft skills, employee engagement, and quality assurance processes that will ensure that you create an environment for best-in-class performance.
To learn how Scorebuddy can help your call center managers provide better customer experiences, contact us today.