10 Tips to make a Call Centre Manager’s Life Easier
10 Tips to make a Call Centre Manager’s Life Easier
Managing a call centre can be hard yakka. Depressing levels of staff turnover, customers who demand instant resolution no matter the time of day or night, money wasted on dead time. It’s hard keeping all your balls in the air and still find the time to mentor and coach your agents so they want to stick around. With more businesses thinking customer experience rather than customer service, having a call centre with motivated and informed agents can help make every contact your customers have with your business a positive one. We’ve complied a handy list of Call Centre Manager resources to help make your lives a bit easier.
1. More customer feedback
Of all the Call Centre Manager resources, this one is pretty important. Scarily, research by Bain & Company shows that 80% of senior manager believe themselves guns in the customer service department and think they are delivering a superior service. Only 8% of their customers agree. Oops. Customer Feedback is critical in joining the gap between your perception of the quality of service you think (well you’re pretty sure… right?) your agents are delivering, and what’s actually happening. Shoot through a survey to your customer immediately after your agents end the call, but don’t leave it there, re-contact them to make sure your agent has done what they said they would. You don’t want this customer having to make a second call. Get in there first.
Turnover is painful, but this pain is all too familiar to you Call Centre Managers. Recruiting and training new agents constantly can hit your productivity, your efficiency and most painfully, your bottom line. You can’t make them drink the Kool aid to make them stay put, but having regular and effective coaching sessions with your agents can help. If their stats aren’t looking good, you need to let them know. Not by coming down on them like a tonne of bricks, but by having regular catch ups (to discuss both the good and the bad), so they don’t feel picked on. Tailor your coaching to the agent- every person has their own style, so make them feel like you know them and care whether they stay or go. They may still go, but you will probably hold on to a few good ones and stability is what you want as that breeds security and ultimately motivation.
3. Engage to retain
So you’re talking to your agents- excellent start. But what do you talk to them about??? Small talk is excruciating at the best of times. Try sharing with your agents the company’s strategy and vision, and what part they play in this. Call Centres aren’t a bolt on department, they’re your front line in customer service. Ensure they know how critical they are to the business. Make sure your agents know that they are an important part of something bigger than their phone calls. This can help with their engagement levels and ultimately your retention. Any Call Centre Manager resource that drives retention has to be in the arsenal.
4. Coaching sessions
Hopefully you’re considering opening the lines of communication with your agents and sharing with them your company vision, if you’re on board with our Call Centre Manager resources so far. As a part of this, it’s important to know how to have effective coaching sessions. Structure your conversations by writing an outline beforehand, don’t wing it. Ensure you know the background information of your agent and can have a contextual conversation. They may have something going on no one knows about so hopefully you can build some trust there so they let you know about anything that’s impacting their work.
5. Multiply your channels
The world of call centres is expanding, so you need to think beyond the phone when considering Call Centre Manager resources that will help you win. Consider recruiting agents who specialise in social media customer service (which is a completely different beast) As always, consider your customer’s experience so ensure you are across their journey with your company thus far. A general rule of thumb with social media customer service is to always, always, respond, as quickly as possible, and if possible move the conversation of the main page to a more private forum. Empathise with the customer’s grievance (as they usually come to social media to complain, let’s face it) and work quickly to get it sorted, keeping them well (and publicly) updated along the way.
6. Warm up your outbound
These Call Centre Manager resources are all about customer experience, not simply customer service. This means your agents should know something about who they’re making their cold call to. This doesn’t mean they’ve spoken to this person before, but if they understand their customers, their likely path to purchase and their pain points, they can have meaningful, relevant conversations in their outbound calls.
7. Share your smarts
If you’re agents are floating in and out of your centre like plastic bags in the wind, then it’s easy to simply stop investing time in them as you don’t think they’ll be there long enough to be worth it. This is the nail in the coffin of retention, sadly. You’re working with a lot of change- local and potentially off-shore centres, different time zones, new campaigns, new customer pain points that need to be addressed asap. Amidst the chaos identify who the people are who need to know what information. As part of your Call Centre Manager resources, ensure all your agents are receiving the information they need not only to answer calls and questions but deliver a superb customer experience. If you don’t have the time, implement a buddy/peer mentor system so everyone gets the attention they need. Invest time in your people, it will pay dividends.
8. …And share your info
You want everyone singing off the same hymn sheet when it comes to your customer experience. This means your agents need to be able to bring up customer information, campaign details, training information and other critical tools immediately. Ensure you have the right cloud-based contact centre software to make this happen.
There’s always a customer, somewhere, wanting something from your company. They don’t want to wait until business hours roll around for their problem to be solved. So while your local agents are snoozing, an offshore call centre can pick up the dead hours. Customer service that never sleeps means your customers have a better chance of a positive experience with your business.
10. Down time management
You don’t want your agents doing a Homer Simpson between calls.. that’s just money down the drain. Consider software that enables you to blend your inbound with your outbound, so while there’s a lull in inbound calls your agents can get straight onto call backs without losing valuable minutes.
There’s a lot to running an effective call centre. Your job is hard. We feel you. Hopefully these 10 Call Centre Manager resources can keep your call centre humming along and help you manage any stress points that may be keeping you up at night.
Need a game plan to win on the customer experience battlefield?
Flickr cc: Jacques