6 Successful Call Center Management Strategies
Call centers and contact centers are fast-paced environments with a variety of tasks, processes, and team members. However, due to these fast-paced environments, things can also easily fall apart quickly. High call volumes, long queue times, over or understaffing issues, and customer escalations are just a few examples of how a perfectly regular day in a contact center can turn ugly. Call center management is a complex skill to master, but fortunately, with the right tools, strategies, and mindset, the skill becomes more achievable.
Let’s explore the layers of call center management, call center best practices to improve operations, and 6 successful strategies that will keep your team engaged and customers happy.
What Is Call Center Management?
Contact center or call center management is the process that supervisory staff uses to streamline business operations including development, implementation, and monitoring. It’s inclusive of a wide range of tasks that are all centralized around improving communication between agents, existing customers, prospective clients, and internal staff. A call center management system ranges from hiring to procuring technology and tools to optimize efficiency and beyond.
Some common contact center management tasks:
- Hiring, recruiting, and onboarding staff or liaisons
- Training and development team
- Workforce management and agent scheduling
- Customer service representatives
- Technical and product support teams
- Outbound calling, text, chat, email support
- Inbound calling, texting, chat, email, social media support
- Real-time and historical call center data analytics
- Customer experience/ call flow design/ IVR systems
- Business process improvement
- Customer Service Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools
Who Makes a Call Center Management Strategy Successful?
Below are the individual roles that contribute to a successful call center strategy and the people responsible for call center performance on a day-to-day basis.
Call Center Manager
The call center manager is the lead operator (and sometimes the owner) of the call center. Their primary goals are to evaluate the needs of their customers, define performance standards, set tangible plans for how to meet standards, and prospect opportunities that will increase overall customer satisfaction and increase sales revenue.
Call center managers typically possess a pretty specific skill set that is built on a foundation of precise, clear communication and goal setting. These are the folks that understand the human nature of business – goals, products, services should all be flexible and adaptable to changing customer needs. But they also can also easily pause and explain to you the short-term and long-term business goals at play and should be able to communicate the big picture at any time.
These people are masters at task delegation. Managers have the know-how to make customers and employees feel recognized and appreciated. And they understand how vital analytics and KPIs are to decision making. Essentially, they must consistently strive to run a successful call center.
Call Center Supervisor
Call center supervisors are the individuals on the team who are responsible for training, monitoring, and assisting contact center agents and employees with their roles. Supervisors are all about ensuring that call center managers’ strategies are implemented and expectations of service are met.
Individuals in this role have a focused, technical understanding of the call center operations whilst having exceptional soft skills (communication, problem-solving, active listening). These are the people who have a deepened understanding of call center software applications. They handle workforce management and scheduling for employees. People who are particularly talented as call center supervisors have the communication abilities to deliver constructive, impactful feedback and direction to their reports.
Call Center Agent
Call center agents are the team members on the front lines of service and the people who execute on the strategies set by supervisors and managers. These individuals are responsible for maintaining brand and service standards.
Call center agents possess a powerful set of skills. They are active listeners, empathic responders, problem solvers, exceptional multi-taskers, and they enjoy interacting with people.
6 Successful Call Center Management Strategies
So once you have the supervisor, the manager, and the agents how do you actually handle running a call center?
1. Focus On Hiring and Retention
Contact centers are storied for being difficult places to work. The perception of them is that agents are at the mercy of a customer’s whims and are very rarely empowered in any meaningful way. Even if that is not true for your organization- it is important to be aware of the reputation because it will undoubtedly make it difficult to attract and retain good employees.
It starts with a job description. Be honest and direct about the expectations for the role. Nobody likes feeling duped by agreeing to do a job just to find out that it was not accurately represented. Set everyone up for success by starting off honest. Worst case scenario if it dissuades the candidate from wanting the job then it saves you training and onboarding costs.
Once you have found the right people for the right roles, minimizing turnover boils down to employee engagement.
- Are you setting the right tone beginning with onboarding?
- Are you checking in with your team each day?
- Are you fostering opportunities for connection?
- Are you holding brainstorming sessions?
- Are you getting creative with ways to make your employees feel like they are a team? (We have some ideas on how to engage and boost morale on your teams.)
If you do not have a strategy for retention then you will find yourself stuck in the unproductive cycle of staffing woes. Have an awareness of these common reasons agents have reported they leave such as:
- Inflexible work environment
- Repetitive, unchallenging work
- Insufficient pay
- Abuse from customers
Transparency is the key here. Does your team have a plan, strategy, or solution for each of the aforementioned challenges? If not, now is the time to look at the near and far future to figure out how you are planning on addressing these common retention issues.
2. Ensure Proper Scheduling for Effective Contact Center Management
Properly scheduling your staff is a pivotal call center workforce management component. As previously noted, working in a call center can be overwhelming. Not just for call center agents but everyone. The constant fast-paced, repetitive phone calls or customer requests, constantly challenging individual communication skills, and detail-oriented work can negatively impact the employee experience over time.
Workplace stress often dulls productivity. Take advantage of tools like Staff Forecasting to better anticipate busy hours of the day and alleviate stress. Call center trends are much easier to predict when you have a sound understanding of your historical customer data. Before planning for the future, analyzing your past agent performance, call volume and customer satisfaction are all items to consider and reference. A clear understanding of your historical data will help you better predict your future customer service and call center needs.
3. Invest in Your Employees
This is the perfect complement to our previous point regarding hiring and retention. The more you pour into your employees’ development the better they will be equipped to take care of your customers.
A great place to start is to give your employees targeted, timely, and direct feedback regarding their quality of service. This will help agents understand expectations, overcome challenges, and highlight additional training or coaching opportunities. This sort of evaluation is best applied objective and systematically through understanding your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Ongoing training programs help reinforce the standards your brand has set for best practices. Also, ongoing training sessions can also be a great way to keep your staff informed of major updates that could impact their workflow or aid in general awareness of the inner workings of your organization. Nobody enjoys feeling like they are in the dark or unaware of things.
Give your employees a voice! If you have not already done so, consider creating a protocol for obtaining employee feedback frequently. At the end of the day, there is no experience like first-hand experience. And your agents are likely familiar with the customer service process inside and out and how it is impacting your customer satisfaction. If they can help you forecast trends, address issues, or be more generally cognizant of your customer’s pain points then it is a worthy endeavor and your agents will value having influence.
4. Use Data to Make and Support Your Decisions
Your call center management is best served by using data to make and support any business decisions. Brightmetrics, for example, helps call centers and contact centers uncover strategic business insights with the help of powerful dashboards and reporting tools that allow organizations to easily navigate their management.
Call centers typically have specific business-related goals. To measure progress, appropriate metrics are tracked. Call center managers and supervisors need to be able to give clear direction and be familiar with how success is getting measured within their operations. Then it becomes all about the data- gathering as much of it as possible to be able to pull insightful meaning from it.
Metrics such as Net Promoter Score® (NPS) and customer satisfaction (CSat) are a great place to start when it comes to making data-backed decisions but you may also want to consider things like call volume, resolution rates, and call abandonment rates.
5. Know Your Business
The most successful call center managers tend to fall into being “generalists”. They have generalized knowledge about every aspect of their organization. The best call center improvement strategies will fall short if you are not knowledgeable about the actual mechanics of your business.
Being knowledgeable in every aspect of your call center includes:
- How your team members are performing
- Trends in technology that could impact businesses
- Brand perception
- Metrics and performance
- Developments, bug fixes, and enhancements
- Issues that could impact the business unit
Ultimately, call center managers should be well versed in the overall organizational strategy (business, corporate, and functional) and how each department works together to contribute to a company’s success. The best call center managers know that their teams do not operate within a vacuum, and encourage collaboration within departments to work hand-in-hand with driving the business forward.
6. Invest in Technology
Modern call centers demand modern solutions. This means having the right tools and technology in place to run efficiently. Call center supervisors and managers have a responsibility to furnish their teams with everything they need to provide quality customer experience and support consistently. Within the last several years cutting-edge call center technology has been developed and the businesses agile enough to quickly embrace and adopt these technologies have grown by leaps and bounds when it mattered most. It is true that oftentimes technology can have a lot of upfront costs associated with it- but long term it pays for itself in efficiency, productivity, engagement, and satisfaction for your employees (including managers and supervisors) as well as your customers.
Be it database management, advanced search functionality, call center-specific software suites, data synchronization, AI applications the best technology for your business is the technology that keeps all of your team members on the same page and ready to execute.
Optimize Your Contact Center Management With Brightmetrics
Your workdays in a contact center do not have to consist of tediously pulling data, building complex reports, digging through records to evaluate agents, dealing with scheduling conflicts, and so on. While all of these are aspects of managing every contact center, there are tools to support and streamline these tasks, freeing up your day to focus on supporting your agents, and delivering the level of customer experience you strive for.
Brightmetrics’ powerful analytics and reporting tools serve up your customer interaction data onto digestible and flexible dashboards, and easy drag and drop report builders. Easily monitor call volumes, key metrics, as well as agent activity allowing you to make in-the-moment, data-driven business decisions.
We can get you up and running within 10 minutes. Start a free trial!
Final Call Center Management Tips
Businesses that periodically review and refine their approaches are ones that do not find themselves growing stagnant or growing flat. The success of your contact center or call center depends on the processes and guidelines you and your team use day in and out. So it is worth it to evaluate are those processes the best you can do? Can you implement one of the above management techniques? Are there any objectives you keep putting off that you know could help? What technology can help you?
Find success in managing your contact center with the right tools and strategies. Navigate your fast-paced environment with the help of Brightmetrics.