• Clive Woodrow

15 Steps to Becoming the Best Team Manager in the Call Center Industry

Click here for the Youtube video.

The harder you work the easy the job of a Team Leader becomes.

1. Metrics Metrics Metrics:

They are the measures of success in a Call Center and they are your personal scorecards of success.

Stack Rank your team every day if you can.

Produce run charts on key metrics.

Every Day, Display them, Talk to them.

2. Set your expectations early and often with your team:

Set their shift expectations

Set expectations with regards to their metrics

Set expectations on their work behaviours

Set expectations on their dress code

Also set their expectations on what they will get from you.

You need to set expectations with yourself on what you are going to do for your team.  Remember you are their Team leader, their coach, you set the direction and the expectations for the team.

3. Do the job you expect your team members to do:

Take a few calls. It’s an easy way to stay sharp on the issues and win the support of your team.

If they know you can do the job, that will get you a lot of respect.

4. Clear the path for their success:

Find out what gets in the way of your team doing a great job. It may be slow systems, or bad procedures, or outdated processes. 

Try your best to fix these issues. For the ones that you can’t, let your team know why it can’t be fixed.  

Your team will accept an issue once they know "the why".

Your job is to fix it or find out the reason why it can’t be fixed, then communicate that back to them.

5. Help people become great at their jobs:

Think about teaching someone how to ride a bike.  Nobody learns how to ride a bike on the first go. They will fall off the bike many times before they can actually go some distance.

New call center agents are just like people learning to ride a bike. They are scared, they are nervous, so they need a reassuring hand and support from you. Evaluate their work often - Remember this is their first real job. Agents want and need constant feedback from you.   Helping them become great is your job.

6. When You Get New Employees from Training:

Sit new employees with your experienced team members. Sometimes you will need the extra help and it is a good way to groom your back-up or second in command when you are away or in meetings.

Have the training team give you a report card on how your new team members did in training. 

You will want to get as much information on their attendance, participation, testing and comments on how well they interacted with other people in training.

Visit the training class if you have a new employee there.  Introduce yourself and invite them over during lunch to meet the other members of your team.

7. Get Help from Training & Quality, when needed:

When you notice a gap in a certain call type or e-mail handling procedure. Ask the Quality team for some additional insights from extra quality monitoring.  

With 12 to 17 people on your team, it is not reasonable to think that you can get too, or identify, every issue that your team encounters.  So there will be times that you will need some extra help from Quality and Training. 

8. Managing absenteeism:

Absenteeism is an early warning indicator for attrition. So it's a great opportunity to show your Agents that you care. But Absenteeism needs to be worked every day. 

Absence should make your heart grow fonder.

Your staff will either be genuinely sick or they generally don’t care. That is why they are not coming to work. 

The opportunity for you is to find out why they do not show for work and see if you can fix the issue.

If you don’t treat your absenteeism problem it will become an attrition problem. So don’t let that happen - you have already invested too much to have to start over again with a new Agent.

9. Care about your people / So they will care about you:

Know their stats

know the names of their boyfriends or girlfriends, husband, wife or partner.

know their pet’s name

know their hobbies

Remember their birthday

Remember when it is their 30,60, 90, 180th day work anniversary and remember their annual anniversaries.

Put all this information in your smartphone or tablet for easy access and updating.

You will be amazed at the positive reaction you get when your people know you cared enough about them to remember a special date.

10. Recognize good effort often.  

A pat on the back or a handwritten thank you note or maybe a little certificate often means more to an Agent than money. Fact is you will see Agents post their awards or certificates around their cubicle. Come to think of it I have never seen an Agent post their pay stub. 

Make up your own awards, you don’t need anyone’s permission to thank your team.  Try the "Best Call of the week award”.  Or how about "Schedule Adherence Queen” for the lady who works her schedule as required.  Or try “The Swiss Watch” award for someone who is always on time.

Get your Manager or Director to take 5 minutes to publicly recognize the good efforts of your team members. That will mean a little something extra to your people when the Senior Boss knows about their good performance. 

Give them a weekly report card on their progress. This should be tied to the expectations that you set in point #2. You can never give to much recognition of performance.

Other ideas for recognition: So many days without absenteeism. Lowest AHT for the week or Customer satisfaction Hero. Combine your important call center metrics into an awards celebration.

11. Get your team sitting together:

There is a much better chance the team will be a team if they all sit together and closer to you.  It is easier for your team to get your support and for you to interact with the team when you are physically close to them.

The CEO of Target (the giant US Retailer), moved all of his leadership team to one floor so he could be close to them - making communications easier. Proving even highly experienced executives need to work closely together to be more effective, If your team is spread out now, it will be tough to bring them all together.  Invite them to join you and their fellow team members.  

…and of course, get your entire team on the same shift.  It is hard to coach people who don’t work when you do.  

12. Schedule the week ahead:

Lay out the week’s schedule. Let your team know what you are doing during the work week so that they know what to expect from you.  Set up your one on ones a few days ahead. Let your team know when you will be in meetings or when you are doing coaching. Your team relies on you so make sure they know when they can call on you. Remind your team of their individual schedules, start times, end times, breaks and lunches.  This is a great time to check in advance if anyone is planning on being away.

13. Do Pre-Shift huddles:

Once the team's shift starts, it’s pretty much impossible to get your team together to talk about the day's goals.  Setting 5 or 10 minutes aside at the start of the day can be a great time to get everyone up to date on the latest process changes. 

14. What to do when a team member quits:

High Agent attrition due to hard work and low compensation is a fact in this business. But sometimes other factors will force Agents to quit their jobs.

Use the opportunity when one of your team members leaves you to learn what you could have done better in your role. Maybe it was something the recruiting team missed or training did not cover.

Did they quit because they were scared of the job?

Did a change in schedule time impact their transportation or their family commitments in some way?

Were they missing pay or benefits?

Did peer pressure play a part in their decision?

Did systems cause a lot of frustration?  

You will never know unless you ask. But once you know, it’s your job to make sure that never happens again to another agent in your company. 

Remember to share the non-personal information you get from exit interviews with your team. This is a good way to see if they are feeling the same way about an issue or challenge in the business. 

15. Finally, Invest in You:

Read books on leadership and managing people. This industry has too few good leaders. We do a very poor job growing our future leaders, so you have to take matters into your own hands.  Search online for books on leadership that appeal to you. Read the reviews to ensure the content suits your purpose.  

Ask someone you admire as a leader what books or articles they have found valuable in their careers.  

Heck, I bet they will even lend you some of their own books, once they know you want to become a great leader.

Thanks for reading this post.

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