Published: July 27, 2021 | Comments
Being a contact center manager can be stressful and frustrating sometimes, but at the same time it’s an amazing opportunity to learn new things every day, to teach what you have learned, and to interact with people on both sides of a business.
As a contact center manager, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game: focusing on meeting KPIs, reducing wrap-up time, and meeting quality standards. However, you must never forget that you are always working with people, not with numbers. Once you understand this simple but powerful reality, you’ll realize that your management work becomes more productive, and the overall performance of the contact center improves.
Let me walk you through some of the lessons that led me to embrace this insight:
Be on the Field
Sure, managers make the most challenging decisions and the most torturous negotiations. It’s part of the job to review and implement action plans to ensure that KPIs are met. But these are not excuses for us to stay inside our office for the entire work shift trapped with our laptop, management software, and VoIP phone. Our visible presence can make a massive difference.
Let’s go out and be with our employees: appreciate teams who are doing a great job, pop into some team huddles, meet the new trainees, or have lunch or coffee with an entire team.
It's time for us to be visible and be where the action is, guiding and leading everyone towards great results.
Teach and Practice Emotional Intelligence
A lousy call can quickly spiral into a lawsuit. When customers are unhappy and become unreasonable, our agents become frustrated and impatient with the situation. During these times, agents must know how to keep calm – no matter how tempting or easy it is to just unleash the fury.
It is up to us to teach our agents emotional intelligence techniques to help them stay focused and keep their temper. More importantly, we need to teach them to remain compassionate and to be creative problem solvers.
This is where we show the best of our customer service skills to help resolve the problem, find a logical resolution to the conflict, and use our cognitive resources strategically with the difficult customers. One way to accomplish this is to teach your agents how to actively anticipate common issues or situations that upset customers, and to be ready with empathic explanations that pacify rather than enrage.
When customers are annoyed, they often get snappy. When this happens, our agents must not respond the same or with veiled sarcasm. It is crucial to offer emotional support—understand their issue, express concern, and speak with empathy. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to allow the agent to go off script—a rehearsed or scripted response has no provisions for empathy.
Promote Collaboration Within your Team
A contact center representative’s job is to listen and communicate effectively. While scripts can help agents interact with customers, what happens when agents within a team need to communicate with each other? What happens when there’s a misunderstanding or a communication gap between leadership and agents? The two best ways to solve this are by encouraging open and honest communication within the team and by improving colleague experience among your team.
As a manager, it’s crucial that you become a good listener. Listen to your employees' feedback regardless of if it’s good or bad. Empower your employees to openly communicate with you because they need to feel like their opinion and feelings matter.
One reason why most contact center agents feel demotivated is because of their leaders. If our employees don't trust their leaders, then it’s gonna be very difficult to guide them towards the goals.
Here are a few leadership ideas that you can try:
- Being transparent and understanding is vital. Emotional intelligence isn’t just something you practice with an angry customer—you need to express it in your management and team activities, too.
- Everyone needs to be treated the same; it doesn’t instill confidence within the team if certain members are treated with preference
- Being dependable and holding yourself accountable are also fantastic ways to establish praiseworthy core values within the team.
- Additionally, we have to be transparent with the information that is affecting an agent’s performance. Say, for example, a new reward program is in place; you’ll have to be clear with the requirements and goals before cascading the information.
- The same is true for the cases in which agents keep making the same mistakes consistently. Don’t just remind them about the mistake; it’s important that you also take the time to show what the correct procedure is and make sure everyone understands it.
As a contact center manager, you might feel tempted to focus on hitting the targets, KPIs and any other metrics that your team has to fulfill. Of course it is always important to keep those metrics in mind and use them as your guide. However, it’s quite easy to overlook your agents’ emotions and needs when you’re too concentrated on the numbers.
It’s wise to keep in mind that both things are constantly happening in real time, so as a manager you need to know how to administer resources wisely. Your agents are your most valuable assets, so you need to focus part of your efforts on making them feel like a valuable part of the team. You can do this by being available to them, teaching them emotional intelligence, promoting collaboration, and leading through example.
It’s their job to meet the metrics, and yours to manage a work environment where everyone belongs, and feels safe, valued, and respected.