Call Centre Management – creating a team out of strangers.

Feb 9
call centre management techniques

Call Centre Management – creating a team out of strangers.

The nature of call centre jobs can be transient. Sometimes it’s because agents don’t like the work, don’t think it pays enough, or maybe it’s because the job is a stop gap before moving on to something different. If you’re a Call Centre Manager, you’ll be replacing your team members at a scary rate each year. That’s a lot of new faces, a lot of inductions, on-boarding, training and farewells. Your team loses people they connect with, and the camaraderie that can make coming to work much more enjoyable. So how do you build a team when people are leaving on you left right and centre? How do you inspire people to perform well and meet their targets, when half their mind is on the job, the other half thinking about their next adventure? It’s not easy. The good news is there are some Call Centre Management techniques you can try to build a team of high-performing, committed agents. It’s a matter of thinking about the team you want and adjusting your own behaviour and style, to inspire the best in others.

Treat them like the team you want them to be

You know the reality of your team; you’ve said goodbye to enough faces that you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that even the brightest recruit brimming with potential will probably move on in the not so distant future. That, my friends, is admitting defeat. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s The Secret. It’s the constitution, it’s Mabo, it’s justice, it’s law, it’s the Vibe and, no that’s it, it’s the vibe. I rest my case. Sorry I digress, but you see what I’m saying, if you treat your team like they are visitors, and don’t invest in them, then chance are they won’t feel any connection to the work, the team or to you as their manager. A leader of a strong, unified team invests time into their people, has conversations with them, listens and tries to understand what makes them tick. They address issues proactively and spend time mentoring and coaching. It might seem like a giant waste of time when churn is so great, but if you build it, they just might come.

Simplify what you’re all trying to achieve

Ah, call centre metrics. They’re a beast aren’t they? So many, always changing, each with their own acronym to get your head around. Average Time to Answer (ATA), Average Handle Time (AHT), First Call Resolution (FCR) tend to be the more commonly used metrics. It’s easy to get bogged down and confuse yourself, your team and the broader business about what you’re trying to achieve. Consider shifting from cost-reducing metrics to more qualitative metrics, or metrics that truly represent business performance. In other words, rather than measuring against a target of the number of calls the call centre receives each day/week/month, try measuring performance on how the customer feels when they hang up the phone. If you have a happy, satisfied customer, chances are you’ll retain them. We all know it costs a lot less to retain a customer than recruit a new one. Break down the myriad of metrics into the ones that can truly define your performance – metrics like consumer sentiment, customer churn rates, repeat business. Share this simple plan with your team so they’re clear about what they’re trying to achieve. Confusion breeds discontent.

Talk, a lot

It’s a call centre management technique that seems kinda obvious. Chat to your staff, find out about them, what they like, where they live, who their family are. Anything really. Just keep the lines of communication buzzing as you’ll then pick up little murmurs of discontent before they become unsurmountable. It starts with the recruitment process, consider throwing away the script and have a conversation. Try to dig a little deeper. Listen for cues around their self-motivation, see if you can make a connection with them. After all, you’re hiring them to make many connections, every day with your customers. Keep the dialogue going, regular catch ups, coffees, chats at their desk. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 2-minute chat about last night’s footy or bigger chats about a change in company strategy. Just stay plugged into your people.

Develop yourself

Sometimes learning and development falls by the wayside for a Call Centre Manager. You’re in the firing line, faced with shrinking budgets, lofty targets, higher turnover. There’s little time to learn new things or identify areas that need improvement. Managing people is a skill that definitely is helped by on the job experience, but some of the things that make a great leader are things that you can work on. Things like communication skills, conflict resolution and negotiation all come in mighty handy when you’re dealing with a team of very different personalities and work styles. Try putting up your hand to flag your interest in doing courses to develop these skills. The powers that be might just say yes, but even if it’s a no you are highlighting the fact that you want to learn. You’re keen and committed and probably one to watch.

Familiarise yourself with the broader business performance against objectives. Have these conversations with your team. Help them feel plugged into the strategy and performance, this will help them feel invested in the outcomes of the work they do every day, which is a handy way to increase motivation and general interest in what they do.


Flickr cc: Ahmed Mohammed AbdMunim