We share ten examples of how you can help to develop your employees’ future career prospects within the contact centre.
1. Preview Days
Never assume that your advisors know their options for a career path in the contact centre. Make the opportunities that could be open for them clear.
To do this, Justin Robbins, Chief Evangelist at CX Effect, recommends hosting: “Job Preview Days where someone in each different job role shares their key responsibilities, the skills that are important for the role, and how it fits into the rest of the contact centre.”
This will ideally be done for every contact centre role, including team leaders, managers, coaches, quality analysts, resource planners etc.
The added benefit of doing this is that advisors gain an understanding of each role and how it relates to the advisor role. They will also know who to approach if they have a specific query.
2. Job Shadowing
When an advisor expresses interest in a certain position, offering a day or week of job shadowing with someone currently in that position will enable them to get a real feel for the role.
If the advisor performs well, the person the advisor shadows can offer to write a letter of recommendation when a position becomes available.
Not only is this much less time consuming than offering internships, but if the advisor performs well, the person the advisor shadows can offer to write a letter of recommendation when a position becomes available.
The only real negative to this is that, in the contact centre, you never really know what type of day/week it is going to be. But, if you plan ahead, you can provide a great learning experience for advisors with lots of potential.
3. Leading Workshops
Test the advisor’s ability to communicate by letting them lead a workshop for their fellow advisors regarding a key part of the preferred future role.
The key is to find something that is relevant to both the future plans of the advisor who is giving the presentation and the advisors who are watching.
So, for example, if the advisor wants to be a:
- Team Leader – Have them lead a coaching session focusing on a skill like cross-selling, empathy or emotional resilience.
- Quality Analyst – Have them present a set of best practices they found from listening to calls.
- Resource Planner – Have them lead a “power of one” training session.
These workshops can work well as virtual lunch-and-learn sessions, as short, snappy sessions can prove memorable for those in attendance, especially if the food is catered for.
For more coaching ideas like lunch-and-learns, read our article: 16 Customer Service Training Ideas – With Activities, Games and Helpful Techniques
4. Online Courses
In your one-to-ones, gain an idea of what each experienced advisor’s long-term career plans are and take a look together at potential future job opportunities within the business.
If an advisor is particularly enthusiastic about one opportunity, consider the main responsibilities of the role and identify anything that might hold them back from attaining such a position.
For example, if they are not proficient with Excel, offer them courses. After all, many companies have access to online courses as part of their “perks”.
This advice comes from Ian McDermott, who says: “I helped a team leader when I was an operations manager. She was reluctant to apply for senior managerial roles because she was so nervous about presenting.”
“By having her prepare a monthly business performance presentation and present it to me, this helped her confidence. She went on to nail that next opportunity for an Operations Manager.”
To find out more about online learning in the contact centre, read our article: The Best Uses for e-Learning in the Contact Centre
5. Process or Engagement Champions
Giving a team member the chance to manage a project across the contact centre can be a great way to test their communication, managerial and leadership skills.
Having them introduce a new process or procedure and “championing” it can be really insightful, while it also enables you to give them some practical experience.
Let them loose, after sharing a few bits of advice, including:
- Get the team invested in the change beforehand
- Follow up after roll-out
- Define what success will look like
Another “champion” idea is to have advisors come up with a new engagement plan for the contact centre, which goes beyond playing a couple of motivational games.
6. Subject-Matter Experts
Identify your top advisors who excel at handling certain contact types. Consider who may be looking for career progression opportunities and appoint subject-matter experts.
Subject-matter experts are the go-to people when new advisors are struggling to handle a query. Advisors can ask them for advice that will help them to solve the customer’s problem.
Gousto’s contact centre also has a Slack channel that subject-matter experts constantly monitor. The advisor can quickly type in what they need help with and an expert who is off the phone will quickly respond with what they would do next.
Having subject-matter experts manage and control these support systems helps to build their communication and leadership skills.
For more best practices from Gousto’s contact centre, read our article: 20 Award-Winning Tips From the Gousto Contact Centre
7. Job Swaps
Offering job swaps for a fixed period of time helps to support improvement and enables promising advisors to identify for themselves where they work best.
These job swaps also give employees a break from repetitive job duties, offsetting the risk of fatigue, which can so often cause high attrition rates amongst high-potential advisors.
Of course, there are major training considerations to first consider, as an advisor cannot take over a role within workforce management or quality assurance without any training. So make sure you work on your strategy first.
8. Step-Up Opportunities
If an advisor has had job shadowing opportunities and enough coaching to perform proficiently in another role, “step-up” opportunities may be the ideal next step.
A step-up opportunity presents itself when a senior team member goes on holiday. A coached advisor can then step up and take on their role while they are away.
A step-up opportunity presents itself when a senior team member goes on holiday. A coached advisor can then step up and take on their role…
Not only do these opportunities provide great practical experience, they also help to build confidence and provide the advisor with a real sense of moving forwards.
9. Task Delegation
Delegating tasks not only helps advisors to build hands-on experience but it develops trust between colleagues and enables the delegator to focus more time on other key tasks.
For example, if a team leader is trying to grow a future leader within their team, they could delegate any of the following tasks to the promising advisor:
- Preparing reports for the manager
- Leading morning huddles
- Taking call escalations
- Call listening and giving feedback
- Creating new motivational initiatives
By taking on any of these additional responsibilities, the advisor in question can learn and develop new skills and they will be much more efficient if they ever move into a leadership role.
10. Join a Customer Ambassador Team
Many customer-centric contact centres have a “Customer Ambassador Team” which gathers customer insights with the purpose of improving the contact centre.
The ambassador team will engage with customers, run root cause analysis and develop A/B campaign tests in an effort to provide customers with a better contact centre experience.
Promising advisors can be invited to join this team to learn more about how they can champion customer causes when working in more senior positions.
Also, while in this team, they’ll discover key process and technology considerations that they will need to be familiar with when holding more senior positions.
The Key Is to Create a Concrete Development Plan
Ideally, you will incorporate some of the ideas above into a concrete development plan that fuels good talent for possible senior job openings within the contact centre and wider organization.
“Work with your HR and talent teams to create a leadership development training programme that specifically identifies high-potential employees,” suggests Justin Robbins.
“Expose them to the full array of the skills and experiences needed to be a successful contact centre leader.”
For more on how you can create a plan like this, read our article: 10 Tips for Preparing Agents for Team Leadership
4 More Tips to Manage Contact Centre Career Progression
To build on each of the ideas above, let’s finish by specifying four more great initiatives to help develop career progression in the contact centre.
1. Understand an Advisor’s Aspirations From the Get-Go
On your very first meet with a new advisor, you should not only talk about job expectations but also where the job could lead.
“Explain the threads you can move in, for example moving into an IT support function, moving into coaching, quality or becoming a future team lead,” says Ian McDermott.
Getting to know this is important for a leader, so they can properly motivate a new advisor and potentially draw out a long-term progression pathway.
2. Make Internal Progression Seem Like a Realistic Possibility
Highlight people who’ve left the contact centre to fill other roles in the business and bring in leaders of other departments who see value in hiring from the contact centre.
Discuss how working as a contact centre advisor will enable people to be successful in other departments.
Justin adds: “They can discuss how working as a contact centre advisor will enable people to be successful in other departments.”
Internal progression can seem like a pipe dream in some contact centres, but by bringing in other departments, you can highlight the many possible routes an advisor can take.
3. Have Open Career Discussions in One-to Ones
It’s important to be a supportive, open-minded leader who performs regular one-to-one sessions with your team.
According to Ian, during these one-to-one sessions you should be asking where the individual advisor sees their career progressing.
The leader can then help to give the advisor a little exposure to the role and they can discuss whether the advisor wants to learn more about the role in the next one-to-one meeting.
4. Conduct Stay Interviews
Contact centres often run exit interviews to find out what they could have done differently, but why not have that conversation while they are still employed?
Justin recommends framing the stay interview with the idea of “Start-Stop-Continue”. This includes asking advisors questions like:
- What are some of the things that you would like to see us start doing as a business?
- What should we continue to do? i.e. what is working?
- What things are frustrating you and you’d like us to stop doing?
“This is not only a helpful exercise in terms of improving the contact centre, but also in figuring out how you can better develop your people,” adds Justin.
For more on developing the performance of your contact centre team, read our articles: