Managing a contact centre is a tall order. You’re in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment with a ton of moving pieces and big demands from agents, customers, and the C-suite. With so many spinning plates in your call centre, management mistakes can happen.
Unfortunately, they can lead to customer churn, agent turnover, and operational inefficiencies that eat into the bottom line. After all, you’re responsible for the customer-facing arm of an entire organization.
Not to worry, though; errors can be corrected. In fact, with a growth mindset, they can be the foundation for improvement and learning.
That’s why we’re going to look at some typical call centre management mistakes—and how you can fix them.
What Is Call Centre Management?
Before we focus on the slip-ups, let’s start with the big picture. Call centre management is a broad term referring to all the tasks and responsibilities that make up the day-to-day of a manager.
As a manager, it’s your duty to oversee the day-to-day operations and activities of the call centre.
This includes everything from forecasting and scheduling to agent training and coaching to monitoring the quality of customer interactions.
Ultimately, managing a contact centre is about keeping both customers and agents happy while ensuring smooth, cost-efficient operations and striving to improve business outcomes. All in a day’s work, right?
How Can You Elevate Call Centre Performance With Effective Management?
With so much responsibility comes the opportunity to make a big impact on performance. An effective call centre manager is able to influence every aspect of operations, from agent performance to customer experience. Here’s how you do it right.
Ensure Clear Goal Setting
Clarity of purpose is essential. Define your call centre aims—making sure they’re linked to wider business goals—and identify the associated KPIs.
From there, you can track the metrics, measure progress, identify areas for improvement, and make changes if necessary.
So, what KPIs should you measure? That depends on your specific aims, but generally speaking, first call resolution (FCR), average handle time (AHT), and cost per call (CPC) can offer useful insights into your team’s performance.
Monitor and Drive High Agent Performance
Speaking of performance. The success of a call centre hinges on its agents. You need to get your reps firing on all cylinders.
This means linking agent performance to the KPIs you’ve selected and measuring them consistently.
By doing so, you can pinpoint agent weak spots and skill gaps. For example, long AHT could be indicative of poor product knowledge, meaning a refresher course, or even a one-on-one coaching session, is required.
Implement Effective Workforce Management (WFM)
A great call centre manager is a master mathematician. You’ve to work out exactly the right formula to get the maximum output from your limited resources.
A successful contact centre is all about operational efficiency, and you’re the one who’s going to drive it.
To do so, you need to really nail workforce management (WFM) and allocate your agents in a way that keeps productivity high, downtime low, and call volumes manageable.
One option is to use predictive analytics and forecasting to predict your peaks and schedule accordingly.
Empower Agents and Managers
Confidence breeds success. If you can empower your agents and instill a sense of self-belief, you’ll see improvements in productivity, morale, and even customer experience. A confident rep has the ability to deliver quicker, more effective query resolutions.
How do you empower your team? By skipping the micromanaging and trusting them. Assign extra responsibilities and duties, and have faith that you’ve trained your staff well enough to make the right calls. Not only will this boost confidence, it’ll streamline workflows, too.
Effectively Resolve and Prevent Conflicts in the Workplace
Given the fast pace and high pressure, it’s no surprise that conflict can arise in the contact centre.
Maybe it’s within the team, on a customer call, or even between employees and management. Wherever conflict comes up, you need to be able to handle it.
Focus on soft skills like active listening, empathy, and problem-solving. Understand the conflict from all angles, explore solutions, and keep the conversation warm and open.
If you can do this effectively, you’ll avoid escalations and maintain a positive working environment.
Encourage a Customer-Centric Approach
In the contact centre industry, everything comes back to the customer. In fact, 73% of business leaders say that customer service directly impacts business performance.
As a manager, it’s your responsibility to embrace this and cultivate a customer-centric approach.
To do so, you must make it clear that customer satisfaction is the main objective of every action and prioritize KPIs like CSAT, NPS, and FCR.
Look for soft skills in the hiring process, leverage your CRM data to personalize interactions, and offer omnichannel support.
Drive Digital Transformation
Without an effective tech stack, you could get left behind. AI and automation have opened up a world of opportunities for call centre managers, with tools like AI-powered chatbots, interactive voice response (IVR), and conversational analytics proving especially useful.
As a leader, you’ll be responsible for introducing any new tools and ensuring a successful implementation.
This isn’t a purely technical exercise, though. It’s also about encouraging agents and showing them how the new tech is there to support them, not replace them.
Leverage Data for Informed Decision-Making
With a huge amount of data pouring in from agent–customer interactions every day, your call centre is a goldmine for potential insights. This data can tell you about customer preferences, agent performance, process efficiency, and more.
You can use speech and text analytics, as well as conversational analytics to better understand why customers are calling, how they’re feeling, and what your agents could be doing better, as well as predictive analytics to assist with staffing and scheduling.
Reinforce and Monitor Compliance
With all the useful data we’ve mentioned above, there’s another side of the coin—regulatory compliance. Contact centres must adhere to any legal requirements around data protection, payment processing, information storage, and more.
Given that fines for a PCI violation can run as high as $100,000 per month, you can’t afford to ignore compliance.
Something like a QA platform can ease the compliance workload by automatically maintaining an audit trail and sending alerts in the event of a breach.
As a contact centre manager, you’re not just expected to run a smooth operation—you’ve got to keep it cost-efficient, too.
Margins are tight in the industry, so you’ll have to leverage some of the tools we’ve discussed to keep your operating costs low.
That means automating call routing with IVR, investing in a workforce management platform to improve scheduling, using AI chatbots to reduce workloads, and more.
Prioritize effective hiring and agent retention, too, as the average cost of turning over a rep is $14,113.
Benefits of Effective Call Centre Management
- Clear goal setting
- High agent performance
- Effective workforce management
- Empowered agents and managers
- Prompt conflict resolution
- Customer-centric approach
- Enabled digital transformation
- Informed decision-making
- Positive culture development
- Improved compliance
- Cost optimization
What Are the Most Dangerous Mistakes You Can Make in Your Call Centre Management?
Just as strong management can improve performance, service, and operational efficiency—mistakes can have the opposite effect.
Consistent errors can lead to lower productivity, weaker CX, and more. Let’s look at the worst mistakes you can make as a call centre manager.
Chasing Top New Talent
When you hire, you want the best, of course, but don’t run the risk of neglecting the talent within your ranks.
The cost of training and onboarding a new recruit far outweighs that of investing a little extra time and effort into upskilling or coaching an existing member of staff.
Besides, constant recruitment and turnover can have a negative impact on morale. If agents feel that their efforts are going unnoticed, you’ll run the risk of even higher turnover rates.
On the other hand, a visible path to progression will boost morale, productivity, and retention.
Underestimating the Importance of First-Class Onboarding
Speaking of onboarding, never forget its importance. A successful onboarding process sets the agent up for success, while a difficult start can have both short- and long-term negative consequences, lowering service standards and increasing agent attrition.
The onboarding stage is a chance to establish standards, set goals and expectations, and provide your new team members with the tools they need to succeed.
This means everything from familiarity with your workflows to preparation for any customer query.
Failing to Provide Adequate Training
Training should be an ongoing process that continues far beyond the initial onboarding stage.
A generic approach won’t cut it either, effective training needs to be regular, targeted, and relevant to your goals. If it isn’t, performance will suffer, and customers will notice.
It’s not just about improving performance either, training really matters to agents and can have a significant impact on morale, productivity, and the chances of turnover.
94% of employees say they would stay longer at a company that invests in their development.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a call centre manager is failing to listen. Not just to customers but to your agents as well.
Feedback from both sides of the customer service process can be enlightening and open up possibilities you hadn’t thought of.
On the other hand, ignoring feedback can result in worse experiences for both employees and customers.
It means customer needs won’t be identified and met, and agent morale will take a major hit when they perceive your disinterest.
Issuing Conflicting Instructions
With all those moving parts we talked about, call centres are ripe for misunderstandings and confusion.
As a leader, clarity should be a defining trait of your communication style. If it isn’t, you may send mixed messages that limit operational efficiency.
Maybe you’re telling agents that AHT is a top priority and they need to lower their handling time at all costs.
At the same time, you’re pushing customer-centric QA metrics like CSAT. So, do your agents prioritize speed or satisfaction? Make it clear—on paper and in person.
Overlooking Agent Wellbeing
96% of agents feel acute stress at least once per week. That’s a huge figure, so it’s no surprise that turnover is such a persistent issue in the industry.
As a manager, you’re not just responsible for agent performance, you’re responsible for their wellbeing, too.
It’s already a high-pressure job, so you need to make sure that you’re not adding to the stress.
For example, failure to schedule a sufficient amount of staff for a peak period could overwhelm your employees, while overpromising on targets and pushing reps too hard can lead to burnout.
Start stretching those mental muscles because managing a contact centre requires some serious flexibility.
While planning ahead is vital, of course, you need to be capable of making on-the-fly decisions as well.
Maybe the flu is going around, and suddenly, a quarter of your agents are out sick, or a new product launch has caused a surge in inbound call volume.
Whatever it is, you must be ready to adjust and make quick decisions in order to manage any unexpected changes.
Forgetting the Value of Brand
Building your brand image is more than just a marketing project. As a key figure in your company’s customer service function, you’ve got a lot of responsibility for how the organization is perceived and the value of your brand beyond the financials.
When a company makes customers feel appreciated, 87% will recommend the brand to their friends and family.
From a management perspective, this means guaranteeing exceptional service that transforms customers into brand advocates.
Ignoring the Data
We’ve spoken about the value of data and how it can offer insights into virtually every aspect of your operations—how customers feel, what agents are doing wrong, and where your workflows are falling short—so you simply can’t afford to ignore it.
You’re not a data analyst, sure, but with modern call centre software, you don’t need to be. New reporting and analytics tools have made data accessible.
Failure to take advantage could lead to poor scheduling, higher costs, and missed growth opportunities.
Using Outdated Technology
Similarly, failure to embrace new technologies could leave your business lagging behind its competitors.
Already, 35% of companies are using AI, and 65% of CX professionals view automation as critical to delivering CX at scale.
It’s not just about AI, either. Something like a CRM can allow your agents to add personalization to their interactions, while QA tools are built to ensure regulatory compliance and enhance agent training. Whatever your needs, there’s a solution out there.
Being Unprepared for the Worst
The best laid plans of mice and men—and call centre managers. Even with all the planning in the world, sometimes you just get hit with a sucker punch.
Your IVR goes down, all your supervisors get sick, your chatbot becomes self-aware—you need to prepare for anything.
Okay, maybe some things are more likely than others, but it’s important to be ready for the worst.
This means a plan for every scenario, including a comprehensive disaster recovery plan for power outages, cyber attacks, and anything else that could hit your call centre.
Best Practice for Call Centre Management: 11 Tips
Okay, now we’ve explored all the things that could go wrong, it’s time for some positivity. We’re going to examine what you can do as a manager to achieve success. Here are 11 of our top tips on how to be an even better call centre manager.
Set SMART Goals and Clear KPIs
Time to get SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound that is. Always try to fulfill the SMART criteria when setting goals.
For example, reduce AHT by 8% in the next quarter or increase FCR by 5% by the end of the financial year.
Make sure your call centre SMART goals are linked to KPIs and tie them together under the umbrella of your organization’s broader business goals.
This way, both you and your agents can clearly understand how your work is contributing to the company’s aims.
Hire the Right Agents
Notice that we’ve said ‘the right’ and not ‘the best’, because the latter is pretty hard to define and varies depending on context.
What’s best for another call centre isn’t necessarily best for yours. That’s why it’s better to find the ‘right’ agent based on your own unique requirements.
You can use your existing top performers to build an optimal candidate profile or conduct a skill gap analysis to see what’s lacking.
From there, you can find employees capable of making a real difference to your team and your call centre.
Nurture Internal Talent
Don’t lose sight of the talent within your team. With the right guidance, your existing agents can blossom and even rise through the ranks.
Not only is this more cost-effective than hiring, it can also boost morale and encourage other agents who see that growth is possible.
The largest predictor of rep disengagement is the lack of clarity around their goals and role within the organization.
What if, instead, your employees knew exactly what they had to do to progress and were reassured that you would support them?
Provide Continuous Training and Coaching
The idea of nurturing talent brings us neatly to our next topic—training and coaching. Every effective call centre manager is also a great coach.
Agents face new challenges every day, so you need to provide training that prepares them for any interaction.
Ideally, training will be customized for each individual agent. You can use tools like scorecards to find weak spots and then tailor your training plan accordingly.
Say Agent B is struggling to handle angry customers, it could be time for some conflict resolution role play.
Keep the Communication Clear and Open
A transparent, back-and-forth dynamic is the foundation of a strong agent–manager relationship.
You need to be open with your employees so you can learn from one another and keep that team spirit high.
Effective communication is crucial if you want to stay aligned in pursuit of your goals. Regular team meetings, one-on-one sessions, and even internal newsletters can facilitate open communication and encourage valuable feedback.
Focus on Employee Engagement
Only one in three customer service reps are engaged, and disengaged reps are 84% more likely to think of quitting or looking for a new job. That’s a big problem for contact centre managers.
You can employ multiple strategies to improve engagement. Talk to your reps every day and hear their concerns, make sure they have the tools they need to work, and show them you trust them by assigning extra responsibilities. Do all this consistently and measure the impact.
Offer Appropriate Incentives and Rewards
By incentivizing your agents and showcasing their achievements, you can reinforce the importance of your aims and KPIs while motivating the team.
This feeds into a positive company culture, increases the chances of agent retention, and contributes to better CX.
Rewards should be suited to the individual. Some like a big show about their performance, while others may prefer a quiet word from a senior figure. Keep it proportional too—extra PTO for big achievements, gift cards for small wins.
Prioritize Effective Quality Assurance
An effective call centre QA assurance can help you identify and fix performance issues, resolve complaints before they escalate, and maintain consistent customer service standards across every team, boosting customer loyalty and the chances of referrals.
QA also facilitates targeted feedback, helping you identify areas where agents are struggling and offer support.
With tools like digital scorecards, you can dig into any aspect of performance, from compliance to empathy, and quickly take action if you find errors.
Establish a Customer-Centric Approach
With 93% of service teams agreeing that customer expectations are higher than ever, you need to be ready to meet these rising demands. In a call centre, this means putting the customer at the centre of everything you do.
Ensure that every action is in pursuit of better customer service. Use CRM data to deliver personalized experiences, keep wait times low, and prioritize first call resolution— 52% of customers rank FCR as the most important factor impacting their CX.
Nurture a Positive Culture
We know that it can be stressful working in a call centre. So, as a manager, you must make an effort to cultivate a positive environment and alleviate that stress. If you don’t, there’s a much greater chance of agent burnout and high turnover.
Strive to deliver a healthy work-life balance with clear boundaries, regular social events, and dedicated team-building exercises.
Don’t forget to offer learning and development opportunities, as 62% of call centre agents say they want ongoing training.
Run Regular Call Centre Audits
A contact centre audit is a chance to get a complete overview of your performance, so you can see what’s working and what isn’t.
As part of the audit, you will assess every process, workflow, and procedure to see where the gaps are.
You can also conduct a more specific audit, focused on a single department, team, or area. If you wanted to guarantee regulatory compliance, for example, you could dig into this aspect of your operations to understand how effective your risk mitigation is.
We all make mistakes. What matters is how we handle them. As a call centre manager, you’ve got a ton of far-reaching responsibilities, so it’s pretty likely you’ll face problems at some point. That’s just the nature of the game.
By following the best practices we’ve discussed above, you can put yourself in a position to minimize any mistakes and fix them quickly when they do occur.
A lot of potential pitfalls are interconnected, so putting this solid foundation in place can cover a lot of bases.
A QA platform can help prevent call centre management mistakes thanks to tools like custom scorecards, conversational analytics, integrated business intelligence, and more.This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Scorebuddy – View the Original Article
For more information about Scorebuddy - visit the Scorebuddy Website
Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.