High quality leaders are the backbone of every organization. Unfortunately, 77% of organizations struggle to find people who can lead.
Without a solid leadership team, companies can have a hard time accomplishing even the most basic tasks: hiring good employees, bringing in customers, and increasing profit. That's because leaders are the individuals who inspire and motivate your company to go from A to Z.
Call center managers are no different.
The Importance of Call Center Team Leaders
Call center team leaders who are uninspiring and ineffective can have an extremely negative impact on their direct reports. According to Forbes, the least inspiring and motivated leaders cause 47% of their direct reports to think about quitting, and 93% of the time they rate in the bottom 10% for productivity.
On the other hand, good call center managers and leaders are responsible for:
- Maintaining your organization’s vision and goals
- Inspiring employee morale, which decreases employee turnover
- Communicating new strategic directives while ensuring compliance
- Motivating employees to perform better and be more productive
- Providing the appropriate tools and resources to produce quality work
7 Essential Call Center Manager Skills
What does it take to be a great call center team leader and manager? It’s not something you’re born to be. Good leaders are made.
While there are many different styles of leadership and facets to being a good call center manager, there are a few essential skills and qualities that every good leader demonstrates. To help you get started, consider developing these seven essential call center manager skills.
1. Customer Service
As a call center manager, you are directly responsible for the quality of your company’s customer service. You’ll have to manage your agents and how they respond to and handle customer inquires, complaints, and problems. At the end of the day, you are the first and last line for customer service satisfaction.
Quality customer service isn’t just one skill. It’s a mix of call center manager skills combined into one, including but not limited to:
- Recruiting, mentoring, and developing quality customer service agents
- Responding to escalated customer service issues
- Coordinating and maintaining internal communications
- Assuring daily service levels meet customer expectations
2. Empower Others
Leaders who empower their employees are more likely to be trusted, according to the Harvard Business Review. That’s because call center managers who allow their agents to take on greater accountability and the opportunity to expand their knowledge, gain new experiences and grow; resulting in a more proactive workforce where all agents are engaged in driving success.
Studies show that empowered employees:
- Have greater job satisfaction
- Are more committed to the organization
- Demonstrate improved work performance
- Have lower stress levels and desire to change jobs
As former Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained, “It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do."
3. Employee Monitoring and Training
Agent performance is highly dependent on the quality of your call center management. It is the team leader’s job to consistently monitor employee performance in order to track progress and identify potential issues. Along with providing strategic vision, making tough decisions and the ability to motivate staff to reach their full potential and meet their goals.
As part of this process, your call center team leader should conduct regular assessments and testing to determine the effectiveness of their agents. A software such as Scorebuddy can help this process, by using the Scorebuddy analytics suite can make the monitoring process a breeze for the management team.
Then, based on the results, call center managers can create and deliver training programs that solve performance and goal-related issues. Examples of topics that should be covered within a comprehensive training program include:
- Improving staff knowledge of policies and procedures
- Providing recommendations for performance improvement
- Evaluating and improving customer satisfaction
- Setting agent targets and KPI’s
- Developing call center agent incentive programs
4. Effective Communication
When it comes to the most important call center manager skills, communication is always at the top. That’s because team leaders are responsible for driving a company’s vision, but without knowing how to quickly and directly communicate their goals to others, it’s not possible.
As G. Riley Mills, author of The Bullseye Principle explains, “The ability to communicate with clarity and purpose is the key to personal and professional success.”
Call center managers that can step back from the daily projects and emergencies to inspire, motivate, and persuade their agents to achieve their goals are always great communicators. There are three keys to being a good communicator:
- Know your audience: Call center team leaders need to know how to tailor their message to fit their agent and the situation.
- Simplify messages: Leaders who take a complex path to a simple solution confuse their subordinates instead of helping them.
- Listen well: Effective communication is a two-way street that requires team leaders to listen as often as they speak.
Customers can get angry, agents can get frustrated, and small issues can quickly grow into massive problems. The job of a call center manager is to keep a level head and quickly solve all problems before they become unmanageable. That’s why one of the most important call center manager skills you can demonstrate is problem-solving and conflict resolution.
Problem-solvers know how to get the results they want. They know when to step into a situation and how to handle it while maintaining the company’s stellar customer experience reputation. The key is being proactive about solving conflict before it occurs.
The best problem-solvers:
- Demonstrate patience in even the most frustrating situations
- Know how to step back and see the problem from a broad viewpoint
- Look beyond the obvious to find the most effective approach to resolution
6. Demonstrate Integrity
Call center managers that demonstrate honesty, integrity, and other moral principles are much more likely to lead high-performing teams. Leaders that prioritize morality are also linked to lower employee turnover, better-engaged teams, and more satisfied employees. When you are a team leader with integrity, you practice what you preach, which leads to greater trust from your agents.
A quote from Roy T Bennett seems to sum it up, he said; “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with Integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
Moral and ethical behavior can be demonstrated in a range of ways, but must be put into practice at all times. Even just one instance of questionable integrity can have far-reaching affects. Some of the best ways to demonstrate integrity include:
- Being transparent in your decision-making
- Displaying agent compensation and bonus plans up-front
- Emphasizing cautious and respectful behavior toward everyone
7. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is one of the soft skills most essential to the success of your call center managers. It’s a great indicator of the quality of your customer’s experience and your manager’s aptitude for leadership. Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to recognize and regulate emotions, which is directly responsible for successful call centers.
When your call center team leaders demonstrate emotional intelligence from the top-down, it will lead to an overall positive culture. You’ll discover that it results in a more collaborative and productive environment that’s focused on creating great customer experiences. That’s why according to the Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, “Emotional intelligence has been identified as the most important element that leads to effective leadership.”
Leaders who demonstrate emotional intelligence:
- Have more emotionally stable employees who are satisfied with their work
- Are more sensitive to employee engagement and their agent’s needs
- Are more like-able and empathetic
- Handle conflict and communication far better
- Build meaningful relationships with agents and other leaders
How to Hire Skilled Call Center Managers
The question then is, “How do you hire call center managers who demonstrate the seven essential skills outlined above?” It’s all about creating effective call center manager job descriptions, reviewing resume skills that match desired specifications, and developing the right call center manager interview questions.
Call Center Manager Job Descriptions
Hiring the right call center manager to lead your team starts with finding the right candidate, and that means writing a successful call center manager job description. How you outline your call center’s objectives, the type of metrics you analyze, and your expectations for providing reliable and efficient customer support will greatly impact the type of candidates that apply.
To help you out, there’s a very simple job description template you can follow.
- Opening: Start by introducing the job you’re looking for. Explain the role of a call center manager in broad terms: what is expected of them, your call center’s objectives, and the skills required to achieve success that directly align with the organizations strategic goals
- Responsibilities: Next, it’s essential to break down the call center team leader’s responsibilities in a bulleted list. You want to be as specific and detailed as possible. For example, one of the responsibilities might be to “Analyze call center data and develop reports that can be used to improve processes, enhance customer experience, and maximize efficiency.”
- Requirements: Lastly, detail the specific call center manager skills you require. This is your chance to list the seven skills outlined earlier in this article and to include other requirements such as educational requirements and how many years of relevant experience.
Call Center Manager Resume Skills
From your highly detailed call center manager job description you should receive a flood of resumes from prospective candidates. The next step is to go through each submission to see if the candidate demonstrates the skills you have outlined. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it seems.
According to CareerBuilder, 75% of employers have caught candidates lying on their resume, so you need to make sure you can appropriately cut through the applicant pool to find the jewels. This means focusing on keywords and phrases that represent the call center manager skills that most closely match the job specifications.
For example, you might want to perform a quick search for phrases such as “excellent communicator,” “problem solver,” or “training/coaching/mentoring.” When reviewing resumes, the goal should be to find candidates who say they match your qualifications as much as possible, but then use the interview to find the truth.
Call Center Manager Interview Questions
The interview is the most important part of the hiring process. It’s when you can screen for the hard and soft skills that the candidate stated they had in their resume. The key is to ask the right types of call center manager interview questions. Open-ended questions is the best way to tease out the candidates true inherent response.
Examples of good interview questions, include:
- Tell me about one time when you miscommunicated with one of your subordinates. How did you handle it? (Communications skills)
- Have you ever seen a co-worker do something wrong? How did you respond? (Integrity)
- Can you talk about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer and how you fixed the issue? (Problem Solving)
- What cues do you look for when trying to anticipate customer requests? (Emotional Intelligence)
How your candidate answers the above questions and their behavior during the interview process will help you determine if they are the right person for the job. Take notes and make sure you don’t forget to crosscheck the candidate’s answers with their references, that way you get more nuanced insight.
Developing Effective Call Center Team Leaders
Hiring the right call center managers is the first step in building effective call center teams. Once you have these individuals in place, you should start witnessing better employee morale, less turnover, increased productivity, and overall better quality work and customer service. The key is finding and training call center team leaders that deliver great customer service, empower others, monitor and train employees, communicate effectively, solve problems, demonstrate integrity, and display emotional intelligence.
When you build call center teams around great leadership, there’s no limit to how far your call center can go.