What I’ve Learned From Running a Contact Centre – Driving Career Progression

Person climbing ladder into sky - career progression concept

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Quick Overview

Getting career progression right in the contact centre can help support employee engagement, staff retention, and more. It can be achieved in several ways, including to:

  1. Focus on Skill Sets From the Very Start
  2. Understand Drivers as Well as Skills
  3. Never Take Your Eye off Succession Planning

In this article, Emma Wilson, Audiology Operations Manager at Specsavers, shares what she has learned from running a contact centre and how to drive strong career progression.


Getting It Right When It Comes to Career Progression

Emma Wilson, Audiology Operations Manager at Specsavers, and finalist for Team Manager of the Year at the UK National Contact Centre Awards, shares what she’s learned about getting career progression right in the contact centre.

Here are 6 top tips for improving career progression in the contact centre:

1. Focus on Skill Sets From the Very Start

Successful career progression planning starts from day 1 – by understanding an individual’s skill set at the point of interview and looking at how these skills align with internal opportunities moving forward.

Top TipWhy not make sure some of the standard customer service questions are covered as part of the interview screening process, so when it comes to the face-to-face interview you’ve got more time to really drill into better understanding the candidate.

2. Understand Drivers as Well as Skills

One way to drive career progression in the contact centre is to avoid making assumptions about where people’s strengths are and where they will want to work. It’s important to understand people’s drivers, as well as their skills.

It’s about taking the time to talk to and understand people and adapt – as there’s no “one size fits all” process.

For example, if you find an ex-teacher joins your contact centre, your inclination might be to push them towards L&D (Learning and Development), but this might not be what they are looking for.

It’s about taking the time to talk to and understand people and adapt – as there’s no “one size fits all” process.

3. Never Take Your Eye off Succession Planning

You should always be preparing people for the next step – with clear maps on progression, available opportunities, and guidance on how to develop key skill sets.

It can also help to view the contact centre as a talent pool for keeping other departments full, as well as boosting longer-term staff retention.

Note, an added benefit of internal promotion is product knowledge, as this is such a critical part of any role and much harder to build up when recruiting externally.

4. Let Employees Experience Other Roles and Projects

At Specsavers, we run a programme called ‘Accelerate’ to support aspiring managers. This helps get them involved in projects with hands-on experience of a different more senior role.

The benefits of this are twofold. This creates space “up” the career ladder as current managers get some breathing space to focus on their next steps, as well as “down” the ladder, as agents and team leaders are given the opportunity to experience a more senior role.

All helping to create an ongoing stream of talent and backfilling roles across the entire contact centre.

Note, this doesn’t just have to be within the contact centre. This approach can help other departments in the business to benefit from up-and-coming contact centre talent too.

For examples of how you can help to develop your employees’ future career prospects within the contact centre, read our article: 10 Career Progression Opportunities to Offer Your Team

5. Don’t Hold People to a Minimum of ‘X Months in the Contact Centre’

There’s nothing to be gained from expecting a minimum of ‘X time served in the contact centre’ before allowing people the freedom to embrace other opportunities across the business.

As long as people are moving for the right reasons, there’s really no reason why such restrictions should be in place.

6. Work With Charities Such as The Princes Trust

Emma Wilson, Audiology Operations Manager at Specsavers
Emma Wilson

Another way to champion career progression in the contact centre is to work with The Prince’s Trust – a charity which helps 18- to 30-year-olds to find the tools and confidence to try free courses and start careers.

For example, through The Trust, we have provided opportunities for young adults in our local area to visit our head office to experience mentorship, mock interviews, and more.

This allows our existing colleagues to widen their skill set in supporting these initiatives, with the bonus that those who notably excel through this process are often offered a suitable role in the business.

Thanks to Emma Wilson, Audiology Operations Manager at Specsavers, for this article.

Read more articles in our “What I’ve Learned” series by following the links below:

Author: Guest Author
Reviewed by: Megan Jones

Published On: 6th Sep 2023 - Last modified: 31st Oct 2023
Read more about - Call Centre Management, ,

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