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How to Survive Your First Day of Call Center School

Think back to your first day of high school.  You got off the bus, held your backpack to your shoulders, and shuffled into the building.  After a brief orientation, you picked up your schedule and were on your own.

Your head turned as if on a swivel as you got the “new guy stare.”  Everyone wondered who you were and what clique you would gravitate to.  Every time you heard someone say “freshman”, you thought they said “fresh meat.”  You talked to anyone who would talk to you.  At the end of the day, you were just glad you survived…until you realized that the alarm clock would go off in a few hours and you would have to do the same thing all over again.

If you’re a contact center supervisor, your first day on the job probably felt much the same. 

If there is one gap I’ve noticed in contact centers it’s that there are very few (if any) training programs for supervisors.  We hold them accountable for everything from coaching and mentoring to discipline, but we don’t show them how to do it.  They learn as they go, gleaning tidbits from others who were just as lost as they were only a few months earlier.  Leadership expects supervisors to groom the next group of customer service superstars, but the supervisors haven’t been groomed themselves.

If you want to make sure your supervisors are ready to step up to the plate and lead, you need to do the following…

Make Sure Supervisors Have Updated “Textbooks”

I’ve seen cases where supervisors don’t have any manuals to follow, let alone the most up to date ones. They are left to craft their own documentation, giving way to gaps in the execution of processes, and inconsistency.  If you want supervisors to be effective, make sure they have an up-to-date “how to” guide on processes, responsibilities, and job expectations.  This will serve as a reference when questions arise.  Nothing creates more angst than feeling lost in the woods.  Let the “how to” guide serve as a compass.

Review The Coursework

In school, you went to class every day to make sure that you understood your coursework.  Your teacher directed you to open your books, and through lecture, testing, and project work, you learned the material. 

New supervisors need the same type of training.  Manuals are great, but review the material.  Interactive classroom settings work well with new supervisors.  Don’t just lecture, interact. Allow for two way communication, and save time for questions and answers.  Keeping new supervisors engaged will ensure they’re interested and focused on improving.

Assign A Mentor

Have you ever wondered how the “bad kids” in school got to be bad?  They usually started as good kids that didn’t have anyone to help them, and they latched on to the first person to show interest.  If there is no one to show the right way, any way will seem right.

It’s important to make sure that your new supervisors have mentors to keep them on the straight and narrow. 

Choose mentors wisely as they will be the main resource and sounding board for your newbies.  High character and values are a must, and even more important than process knowledge.  Mentors should be assigned from day one, and should have regularly scheduled, uninterrupted time to meet with new supervisors to evaluate their progression. 

Remember,   being in a position of leadership doesn’t eliminate the need for continual learning and training. In fact, because of the great responsibility contact center supervisors have in molding the next stellar group of representatives, it’s often more important.  Give your supervisors the processes, training, and mentoring they need, and they will “make the grade.”

As for showing them how to avoid getting chased by the seniors on football team or keep from getting stuffed into a hall locker…sorry, you’re on your own on that one.  

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