3 Essential Management Routines for a Contact Centre Manager


Orit Avital, General Manager at Ottorita, suggests three routines that managers should add to their schedules to continuously improve contact centre performance.

When contact centre managers get up for work every morning, they supposedly know what their day is going to looks like. In practice, however, there are always surprises.

Contact centre management routines are essential for running an efficient and effective operation. Yet, for most of you, a routine is a distant hope.

“A Routine Day in the Contact Centre”

The statement “a routine day in the contact centre” usually reflects a day on which everything happens, including unexpected events that you suddenly find out about through the customers. There are also situations which require reconsideration of decisions, constant risk management and so forth.

In most contact centres, this is what routine looks like!

If you love your job, it will likely be thanks to these characteristics – the pressure, the energy and the need to always keep your finger on the pulse. Yet there will be moments when it feels too much.

The Three Improvements

Each of the following ideas is accompanied by a common sentence that you may have heard from your team, in order to emphasise the benefit of implementing each routine.

Also, remember that a routine is a routine, so these ideas need to be implemented on a full-time basis in order for the contact centre to realise the full benefits.

1. Develop an “Unplanned Routine”

You cannot really manage a schedule with all of these unplanned occurrences.”

Is that so?!

Yes, there are many unplanned events and situations that are impossible to prepare for. Some of these you have already experienced enough to foresee in advance, while others manage to surprise you time and again.

Schedule times in your day, preferably around peak hours, to fire-fight, i.e. create an “unplanned routine”.

When this is the case, tasks are postponed from one day to the next and there is already a pile of those which you have forgotten about and that you need to deal with… sound familiar?

So, how can you introduce a routine that will help prepare you for the unforeseen issues? The answer is to schedule times in your day, preferably around peak hours, to fire-fight, i.e. create an “unplanned routine”.

How Best to Implement an “Unplanned Routine”

Implementing an unplanned routine indicates that you recognise that your schedule must be flexible enough to be able to meet all of the management tasks.

If you have not been working with an organised schedule up to now, it is definitely time to start. And, if you have been, but you still find it hard to meet all of the time-limited tasks, this is the routine for you.

An unplanned routine in the management of the contact centre is a routine which includes fixed time-slots in the schedule during which you do not perform any predetermined tasks, but are free to cope with the ongoing events.

An unplanned routine in the management of the contact centre is a routine which includes fixed time-slots in the schedule during which you do not perform any predetermined tasks, but are free to cope with the ongoing events.

Remember, this is not time for emails, nor is it time for meetings. Instead, this is the regular time during which most of the problems usually arise, and you, without knowing what the issue is, are ready, free and available to provide a managerial response.

But in practice, how can you go about creating an unplanned routine?

Here are four steps that will help you do so.

  • Step 1 – Examine when the main peak hours during the day are. Once you know this, define the periods of time in your schedule for which you plan to fire-fight.
  • Step 2 – Manage your calendar such that these hours will be blocked and you cannot be invited to a meeting during those hours.
  • Step 3 – We recommend to also talk to your direct manager (i.e. your boss) and explain that these are times in which your presence in various meetings comes at the expense of the contact centre’s operation, and therefore should be avoided as much as possible.
  • Step 4 – During the time-slots which you determined, go around the contact centre – be on the floor! Things will reach you even before the fire breaks out! Give an immediate response, follow up on the team’s functioning and make sure that the managerial team reporting to you indeed meets all of its tasks.

In other words, make “the unplanned” a routine!

In this way, you will slowly be able to reduce all of these cases which suddenly arrive and require special, complex and lengthy treatment.

By doing so, you will also make clear to the rest of the team when you are not available – meaning that you can go about your other tasks without the risk of distraction.

2. Implement an Open-Door Routine

This is how it is, whoever shouts loudest gets attention first.”

Is that so?!

We know that the natural tendency of managers at the contact centres is to seek the fire and act to extinguish it as soon as possible. This is part of the daily reality. However, there are situations in which the immediate response generates more harm than benefit.

By implementing an open-door policy in your contact centre, you can proactively engage with the team and promote two-way communication, as everyone feels confident coming forward with their questions.

How Best to Implement an Open-Door Routine

An open-door routine is part of a management policy that allows the contact centre team to transparently approach the management team and the contact centre manager as they wish.

This expression is uttered by many managers. However, in practice, when you are in between meetings and gatherings, briefings and analyses – do you really have time and availability for the advisors?

When you do talk to an advisor, do not allow it to happen after a “drama” in the contact centre, as the message relayed to the entire team is that indeed – “this is how it is, whoever shouts loudest, gets attention first.”

You need genuinely to make the open-door routine so that it is not impacted by “drama management” throughout the day.

Here are a few ideas to help with your implementation.

  • Set regular and routine open-door days – While the effectiveness of this option will depend on the size of the contact centre, the dates should be consistent with a day of the week with lower than average contact volumes, so that the advisors can really use it and you can be available to listen.
  • Issue an official email and notice – This email can be sent to each member of the team regarding the next day and hours during which your office door will really be open, and wait for them.
  • Define time-slots of 15-20 minutes – Is the contact centre team too large to allow everyone to arrive at the same time? Ask advisors, through the team leaders, to email in advance and book a time, keeping this issue under control.

If you already have an open-door policy (and stick by it!) consider asking all senior managers to go out and speak to a member of the team that they would not usually speak with at the start of every day. This can be a great way of boosting team cohesion.

3. Create a Control and Monitoring Routine

A new procedure is issued here every day, they will probably forget about it tomorrow.

Is that so?!

These kinds of statements are not expressed only by advisors. Many managers, at different levels, can empathise with this statement and use it often.

You sat down, gave it thought, planned it and brought a procedure to the floor, aiming to develop and promote the work processes in the contact centre. Only a few know of the work behind the scenes – the time, energy and thought invested. Most people only know that there is a “new procedure” and that is where it ends.

The procedure is announced to the team during a briefing, but it will often dissipate and operations will carry on as normal, and the team will slip back into routine. Sound familiar?

The procedure is announced to the team during a briefing, but it will often dissipate and operations will carry on as normal, and the team will slip back into routine. Sound familiar?

If this does indeed sound familiar, it is likely that you need to set aside time to routinely control and monitor new procedures to ensure that the contact centre is continuously improving.

How to Implement a Control and Monitoring Routine

Learn from the experience of many managers who invest extensively in the building of work processes but eventually see them not being used in the current operations.

Attribute the appropriate respect to your resource investment and fulfil a significant part of your role in contact centre management by consistently performing control as a routine.

That is easier said than done, right?

To help, here are four steps to help you on you way.

  • Step 1 – On the introduction of a new procedure to the floor, ask a team leader or a senior advisor, who may want a little more responsibility, to provide you with a quick update of the impact it’s having on the contact centre floor.
  • Step 2 – Do not stop there! Define the desired results which you will follow up – be as precise and clear as possible. Refining the desired result will help the entire team to get on board, to the benefit of actual implementation.
  • Step 3 – Set regular times in the schedule for control. During these times, stop everything and make sure the procedure is indeed being implemented on the floor, according to the results that you defined.
  • Step 4 – Speak to the team and gather their thoughts on the procedure, even in an incidental conversation. Keep your finger on the pulse; that is a key duty of every manager.

Many contact centre managers have been promoted from other positions within the contact centre and will carry on by following the lead of their predecessor and be drawn into constant “fire-fighting”.

However, implementing new processes is key to the contact centre’s progress, and to some extent the wider organisation’s growth. So, it’s important to set aside routine times to put all of your focus on ensuring these procedures are implemented to the best possible standard.

In Summary

Orit Avital

Orit Avital

The work of a contact centre manager includes many routines which we implement for the continuing benefit of everyone in the contact centre.

Not all of these routines are simple to implement, but they help to ensure advisors are engaged and that our schedules are flexible enough so that the contact centre continuously improves.

While you may already have implemented at least one of these routines in the contact centre, let’s hope there’s something here for you to put into action tomorrow morning.

Good luck!

Thanks to Orit Avital at Ottorita for sharing this article with us.

For more from Orit, you can read some of her other articles:

Published On: 16th Jan 2019
Read more about - Call Centre Management, , ,


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