In the high-pressure, fast-paced call centre industry, effective leadership is essential. If you want to thrive, you need to embrace learning opportunities and master call centre management.
With so many moving parts to take care of, a few slip-ups can quickly snowball. Half your agents call in sick, there’s a sudden surge in call volume, your staffing forecast is off the mark and you’re left short—whatever it is, you need to be prepared.
Thankfully, with the right training, you’ll be equipped to handle anything the role throws at you. In a changing industry with new technology and rising customer demands, this means taking a proactive approach and prioritizing your own education.
In this article, Scorebuddy’s Shane Croghan looks at the role of the modern call centre manager, the key features of management courses, and the best ways to bring your newfound knowledge back to the business. Let’s get started.
What’s the Role of a Call Centre Manager?
If you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware that call centre managers have a ton of responsibilities.
Managers are involved in pretty much every aspect of day-to-day operations and this encompasses a broad range of tasks and duties, including:
- Hiring and onboarding new employees
- Training and coaching agents
- Forecasting, scheduling, and managing staff
- Finding ways to improve processes and workflows
- Establishing daily objectives and long-term goals
- Analyzing statistics, metrics, and KPIs
- Conducting call quality monitoring and assessment
- Building reports for the c-suite and executive management
- Staying on top of new tech and industry developments
- Liaising with supervisors, team leaders, and agents
Is that enough for you? This isn’t even an exhaustive list, just the most common duties of a typical contact centre manager.
With such a wide range of responsibilities, proper training is crucial. Seeking out new knowledge keeps managers sharp. It’s particularly important for getting to grips with new tools, different channels of communication, customer service best practices, and more.
By upskilling and keeping on top of your game, you can transfer your learning to the rest of the call centre.
Given the manager’s wide-ranging influence, this can feed into everything from agent engagement and morale to customer experience and operational efficiency.
Key Components of Call Centre Management Training
The best call centre management training combines the skills, knowledge, and tools to support the work we’ve discussed above.
Whatever you study, remember that it’s all in pursuit of your primary aim—delivering an exceptional customer experience.
Leadership and Communication Skills
Leadership and people skills go hand in hand. To motivate your team and keep agents engaged, you must be able to communicate with them effectively. In fact, over 80 percent of employees would consider leaving their job if they had a bad manager.
This is why many training courses for call centre managers emphasize soft skills like emotional intelligence, empathy, and active listening.
These skills allow you to engage on a personal level with both agents and customers, improving the all-round experience.
Management courses should cover different styles of leadership and communication, prepare you for common situations with role playing exercises, and ensure that you’re able to adapt your approach for different personalities.
These new skills will also bolster your position as a leader in your call centre, allowing you to build a positive, open atmosphere focused on growth. Emphasize your desire to always be improving, stay approachable, and empower others to succeed.
Performance Metrics and KPIs
Monitoring top KPIs like CSAT, first call resolution, and average handle time is a key responsibility for any call centre manager.
Without an understanding of how your team is performing in these areas, it’s difficult to improve productivity and customer service.
These metrics are also indicative of your own performance as a manager, giving you an idea of where you stand, and whether or not you’re making progress towards your objectives. By tracking KPIs, you can better understand the impact of training, scheduling, and more.
A management course can help you to determine which metrics are most relevant to your business, how you can track them effectively, and what strategies you can employ to improve them.
With contact centres generating so much data, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Pursuing management training with a focus on KPIs may help you to identify what matters and pick specific focus areas for the future.
Technology and Tools
The success of a modern call centre depends on an effective tech stack and, as manager, you’re largely responsible for this.
As such, it’s essential that you keep on top of new contact centre technology so you can train your agents and offer guidance when they run into problems.
It’s likely that these courses will come from a specialist perspective and focus on specific tools, which is beneficial if you’ve just adopted a new piece of call centre tech.
A targeted crash course will get you up to speed quickly so you can pass any learnings on to your team.
This could cover typical call centre tools like CRMs, QA platforms, and workforce management (WFM) systems, as well as more specialized pieces of tech like interactive voice response (IVR) and learning management systems.
By improving your tech knowledge, you’ll gain a greater ability to monitor interactions, leverage interaction data, and offer personalized support to your customers. You’ll also learn how to identify agent skill gaps and tailor your coaching accordingly.
Conflict Resolution and Customer Handling
By their nature, call centres are designed to handle customer problems and this can often lead to conflict.
As a manager, you must accept that some level of conflict is part of the job, while also equipping yourself with the right skills to minimize and manage it.
Conflict can arise between agents and customers, but also among employees, and even between management and agents.
The more knowledgeable you are about your operations and the people involved, the easier it is to spot trouble early and nip it in the bud.
Call centre management courses can help you to prevent escalation, and de-escalate if necessary, while maintaining a positive working environment. They’ll also give you techniques for handling agitated customers and intervening in difficult conversations.
Aside from techniques for handling conflict directly, training can also equip you with the right mindset.
This is the ability to remain calm and constructive even when dealing with tense situations—and transfer this mindset to your agents too.
How to Choose the Best Call Centre Management Course
There are plenty of courses and training programs out there for contact centre managers, but to get the best return on investment, you need to pick the right one. You want a reputable provider delivering content that meets your needs. Below, we’ll address some of the key aspects to look out for.
Look for Accredited Training Programs
If you’re ready to invest time and money in your education, it’s vital that your training comes from a legitimate source. Before choosing a provider, make sure they’re fully accredited and qualified to deliver the material.
The likes of the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM) are industry leaders, while general online learning platforms like Udemy also host relevant courses.
Whoever you’re considering, make sure you look up reviews, testimonials, and case studies. You should also verify any accreditations to make sure they’re in line with the latest laws and regulations in your country. If you need further clarification on anything, you can always reach out directly as well.
Review the Course Content and Curriculum
What does the course actually cover? It’s critical that you review the content and curriculum thoroughly before committing.
Think about yourself—does this match my learning style? Is it addressing a skill gap? Is it going to hold my interest and keep me motivated?
Assess your weak spots before picking a course. If you’re already a strong leader and communicator, but your technology skills are lacking, there’s no value in pursuing a leadership course—you should focus on upgrading your technical skills.
Think about the duration of the course too. It could be a one-off online workshop, or it could be a long-term commitment to attend an in-person class every week for months. Make sure the level of commitment matches the value you’re getting from the course.
Weigh the Benefits of Online vs. In-Person Training
People have different needs and learning styles, so it’s important to consider yourself first. Maybe you’re a visual or auditory learner, suited to studying online.
Or maybe you’re more kinaesthetic and you need to get involved with role-playing and real-world simulations.
Both online and in-person courses have their pros and cons. It all depends on what you want to achieve and what suits your own personality.
Online is convenient and flexible, offering 24/7 access. It’s also cheaper, with no travel costs and minimal scheduling conflicts with work and other commitments.
However, it requires a lot of motivation and discipline, and lacks a social aspect which can help to cement learnings.
In-person, on the other hand, can be more dynamic and engaging, giving you a chance to practice new skills face-to-face with immediate feedback and analysis from tutors. It is typically more expensive though, and harder to fit into your schedule.
How to Implement Call Centre Management Strategies
So you’ve done your training and you’re back at the call centre with some fresh ideas. Maybe you want to rejig operations to improve efficiency, implement a new piece of tech, or even start measuring a new metric. How do you bring these strategies into your organization? Let’s find out.
Prioritize Employee Engagement and Motivation
Keeping your call centre staff motivated and engaged is always important, but especially so when you’re implementing new strategies.
With disengaged reps 84% more likely to think of quitting or be looking for a new job, it’s also essential for keeping agent attrition down.
Incentivizing your team to hit targets, and rewarding them when they do so, is an important engagement tactic.
You can cultivate healthy competition with leaderboards and prizes, boosting morale while encouraging your agents to boost their KPIs.
Training is another key motivator, with 76% of employees saying they’re more inclined to stay with a company that offers continuous learning and development.
Effective training improves retention, saves on hiring, and, of course, improves customer experience.
Don’t forget that employees want regular feedback. In fact, 83% say they appreciate it, whether it’s positive or negative.
You can leverage your QA platform to give real-time feedback via agent dashboards and schedule regular one-on-ones for maximum engagement.
As a manager, you should strive to empower your agents too. Give them authority to make their own decisions wherever possible, and ensure that they have the right tools and resources to do their jobs efficiently.
Establish a Quality Assurance Process
If you’re bringing new strategies to your contact centre, you’ll want a robust QA process in place to ensure a positive impact on service interactions.
This will allow you to monitor agent performance and provide constructive feedback so they can continuously improve.
An important step in this process is defining essential KPIs for your call centre, so you can identify where you’re falling short and what areas need to be addressed. This will help inform your training and coaching process too.
Most modern QA solutions come with reporting and analytics tools, which are essential for driving improvement.
By feeding scorecard evaluation results, survey data, and more into your call centre analytics tool, you can identify trends and patterns.
Be sure to find a suitable contact centre quality assurance that meets your specific needs. This means automation of manual QA tasks, centralization of your reporting and analytics data in one hub, easy integration with your existing stack, and more.
Adapt to Changing Customer Needs
Customer needs are always evolving and, according to 93% of service teams, customer expectations are higher than ever too.
The strategies you pick up from contact centre management courses can help you stay agile and respond to these growing demands.
The first step in adapting is to assess your current performance—where are the gaps between your offering and what your customers want?
You can do this by gathering survey feedback, analyzing different customer segments, reviewing KPI data, and more.
Customer feedback, in particular, is essential to enhancing your CX. 63% of customers say companies need to be better at listening to feedback, so improving in this area can give you a distinct advantage over your competitors.
You can seek this out via surveys, reviews, social media, focus groups, and multiple other avenues.
While we’re on the topic of feedback, don’t forget to ask your agents for their thoughts. By requesting their opinions, you can better understand the challenges that are holding them back and limiting performance.
You could even allow for anonymous submissions to encourage more honest responses.
86% of consumers say they would leave a brand after as few as two poor experiences so, as a call centre manager, you need to stay responsive and be willing to adapt if needed. Fail to do so, and you could face poor CSAT scores, negative word of mouth, and even churn.
Share New Knowledge and Invest in Technology
You’ve returned from your voyage of discovery (call centre management course) and now you’re back brimming with fresh knowledge. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to share the relevant findings with your team.
This is especially important if you’ve learned about new tools that could support better performance.
If you think you’ve got a business case for a piece of tech, bring it to your executive team, get approval, and then train up your agents.
Continuous learning also enables you to become an authority in your organization. Whether that’s with regards to a particular piece of tech, workflows and processes, compliance requirements, or just new developments in the call centre industry.
You can formalize this sharing of information by updating your company knowledge base on a regular basis. Maybe it’s a tutorial on how to use a new tool, or a refreshed FAQ to reflect new PCI guidelines.
We don’t need to tell you about the pressures of managing a call centre. You’re responsible for keeping all the plates spinning and strong leadership is essential. Agents switch off, customers get frustrated, KPIs suffer—you’re the one that must step in and take control.
Thankfully, there are tons of excellent resources for call centre managers to develop their skill sets. By following the guidance we’ve outlined in this article, you can take a proactive approach and get prepared for any challenge your contact centre throws at you.This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Scorebuddy – View the Original Article
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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.