Published: January 17, 2023 | Comments
Each month, we ask our ICMI thought leaders to answer one question about the contact center industry. For January, we asked, “If you could give a new, first-time contact center manager just one piece of advice, what would that advice be?”
This is what they answered:
Author, The Service Culture Handbook
If you are new to the company, the best thing you can do as a new contact center manager is go through new hire training for frontline agents. This will help you discover exactly how your agents learn to do their jobs and give you the skills to do the job, too. I did this as a newly hired manager and discovered a nice bonus: agents tend to respect you more when they see you investing time in learning how they do their work.
If you are an agent who gets promoted into management, your first step should be building key relationships. There are several people in any organization who are integral to your success. It could be your boss, influential executives, or leaders of departments that work closely with yours. Connect with those people, develop rapport, and take time to understand their needs. You’ll find it a lot easier to be successful when you build those bridges and position yourself as an ally to those key internal customers.
Community Organizer, CX Accelerator
Hey new contact center manager, please remember that at the end of the day, customer service is just people helping people. Showing up as a human leader and treating your team and customers as humans is important. And, taking the best care of yourself in order to support others matters too.
Trainer and Speaker on CX and Sales, Reflective Keynotes, Inc.
My first piece of advice would be: Do not get overwhelmed with KPI‘s (Key Performance Indicators). Just because you can measure everything in a contact center does not mean every metric is equally important. Instead, focus on customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) metrics. For example, well-designed customer satisfaction scorecards provide information about how well your team is meeting customer needs. Balance that by surveying frontline agents and Team Leaders to find out what they need to provide better customer service. Then, act on that feedback.
Do not get lost in a sea of KPI data! Instead, focus on a few metrics that actually measure CX and EX.
Director of Customer Service, FELLERS
Experiment! Get comfortable with not having all the answers, and find new ways to experiment. Learn to understand the difference between causality and correlation. It will make you a better experimenter. Have a healthy balance between learning from those who came before you and using your own set of skills and experience. Experiment even when others tell you you’re crazy. Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize said it best, "The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.” Keep experimenting
Time management is a crucial skill for any leader. It’s not just about carving out time, it’s about how you spend your time which will allow you to lead your team to top performance. Below are specific actions you can take:
- Schedule one-on-one coaching and associated support time for direct reports first before adding other meetings or activities into your week.
- Gain support from your manager to remove obstacles so you can become a leader who authentically puts people first.
- Learn how to gracefully say no to meetings or requests that compete for time allocated for your team.
- Diagnose collaboratively with your direct report. Help them close a gap that is a pain point for them and your business.
Lead your direct reports to self discover how to make the targeted change. Ask them to critically think and come up with their own solutions. In other words, don’t tell them what to say or do. Integrate these actions into your day-to-day leadership and achieve success as an inspirational and results-driven contact center manager.