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19, January 2017

11 Habits of highly successful contact center managers

Running a contact center is a herculean task, especially in telecommunication, banking, e-commerce, airline industries. And if you are a contact center manager, or if you know one, it is a reflection of the critical traits that you bring to the table. When the going gets rough, good contact center managers get going to resolve any bottlenecks that are compromising the quality of customer care provided.

A good rapport with your agents, co-ordination skills, quick decision-making abilities along with problem management capabilities and sound industry expertise are barometers for success as a contact center manager. It means that they have created an environment that is hassle-free, productive and customer-centric.

Being customers ourselves, we truly understand what the average customers may face. Even, the amusing agent interaction stories. But what we may not always realize is that there are a number of agents, contact center managers, IT heads and more who work together to give you the best customer experience.

Contact center managers are the ones who run the show. They know the workflow of the contact center, monitor agent performance and balance resources. In fact, they can be best represented as coaches of a sporting team.

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Why a coach?

They are always behind-the-scenes of the team’s daily activities. Their major responsibilities include training, monitoring and reporting the team’s performance. They are the mediators between the organization and the customers.

And as they run these contact centers with ease, here are some habits that successful contact center managers use for effective contact center management.

Habit #1: Communicate with agents

In a sports team to achieve goals and expectations, communication between the players and coach is key.

Likewise, agents are the voice of the company to customers across the globe. They deal with customers on a daily basis, they know the common problems that customers face, how competitors are performing, and areas that they could improve on. It is the coach’s (contact center managers) responsibility to frequently speak to the agents to identify these problematic areas and put a solution in place based on the agent’s feedback.

Habit #2: Engage with agents

Team-building activities, focused training on particular skills and meetings outside the field/court are methods in which sports person engage themselves with their teammates.

With growing career opportunities, the number of people who opt for agent jobs are reducing considerably. And with the many pressures that the agents face on the field, that including keeping up customer satisfaction scores, first call resolution and more, the responsibility of engaging them lies with the contact center managers. This engagement model will focus on reducing agent attrition with activities like weekly team meetings, role-play learning sessions for handling various issues that customers face, and a performance-based reward system.

Habit #3: Conduct targeted coaching

As a coach, it is necessary to share a bond with each of your players. This helps understand the players both on the field and outside of it.

Similarly, contact center mangers need to build their rapport with agents by reviewing the issues they faced during customer interactions. This individual attention to agents can also be turned into small focused training sessions that coach the agents around problematic areas, and also reduce the time to resolve issues.

Habit #4: Putting yourself in the agent’s shoes

If the coach of a sporting team is a former sportsperson, he may not always understand the context of the problems that players face against the opponent team in the current scenario. This issue may arise with time, practice and newer technology that is involved. Therefore, it is necessary to put yourself in the players’ shoes.

Contact center managers also go through the same contextual problems. One can learn new ways of handling customers by interacting with them on a regular basis. This helps better understand customers, discover new problems that customers are facing and also act as a platform to help build new strategies that can improve problem resolution.

Habit #5: Stay updated with technology

With the advancement of technology in sporting tournaments, it is evident that these help the coaches and players improve their game.

Whenever contact center managers have some extra time on their hands, they should spend time scouting the web for advancements in technology that could help agents in bettering customer satisfaction scores, gain a competitive advantage or improve their soft-skills. They also give agents access to blogs, websites and e-learning platforms that promote informal learning.

Habit #6: Think like a customer

A coach always want the best for his players and the millions of people who support the team. As a result, he/she devices a routine that plays to the strength of the team that results in a positive outcome.

Contact center managers need to understand the needs of the customer and shape their services and processes around them to fully achieve great customer expectations.

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Habit #7: Establish a Benchmark

Setting benchmarks allow one to measure their performance and identify if the actions have been better than before. Coaches often use this technique for individuals and team activities.

Contact center managers use this method to evaluate performance. This spurs agents to aim to do better than the others, thus pushing the entire contact center to achieve its goals. For example, agents aim to resolve customer issues by completing interactions below the Average Handle Time (AHT).

Habit #8: Be a team leader

It is crucial for coaches to be considered role models for the players of the team. They look to them for support and advice because of their years of experience and understanding the sport. And being a person they look up to isn’t the end. It acts as a platform for the coach and players to communicate, understand situations from the perspective of the player while playing to the key strengths of the individual to help the entire team succeed.

In the same way, contact center managers want their teams to succeed. This can happen with proper agent selection and great agent performance as a unit/team. But the success of the team includes a lot of back-end hard work that each of the agents have put in along with the coaching and guidance of the contact center managers. More often than not, agents want to see their managers take a hands-on approach so that they can learn from them.

Habit #9: Manage Workflow balance

In nail-biting sports tournaments or matches, the coaches along with the team captain decide the strategy to go through with in order to achieve maximum potential. This kind of prediction helps when similar situations arise.

As contact center managers have a deeper knowledge in the domain when compared to agents, they have the ability to forecast spikes in the volume of customer interactions. And effective managers plan in advance to effectively forecast calls, calculate the requirement of staff and the schedule. Likewise, in smaller contact centers, customers like to speak to particular agents. Therefore with technology advancements and analytics, customers can be routed to the same agent in order to resolve problems quicker.

Habit #10: Prioritize work

Practice makes people perfect. And with focused practice, great things can be achieved. This is what sporting coaches believe in. They also believe that when there is a lot of to focus on, prioritizing work is what works the best.

Contact center managers have some time on their hands. Highly effective managers use this time to complete administrative tasks, targeted coaching and mentoring. This also motivates agents to do the same (follow up on calls, complete administrative work and file paperwork) between customer interactions. This saves time and reduces the pressure of having to complete it at the end of the day while creating a positive impact on the performance of the contact center.

Habit #11: Take action

Before taking action, a lot of time goes into devising the best strategy that will suit the need and solve the pain-points. The coach and players do this in order to get the best outcome from the team.

Contact center managers along with the IT heads and other top management, are the ones that come up with the strategy while agents implement the plan. And it is essential that all plans that are put in place should be executed. This not only provides learning opportunities but also recognizes areas of improvement. This also drives productivity among the agents and helps increase the contact center’s overall performance.

Conclusion:

There is no end-game for sports coaches and players. Same goes for contact center managers. But of course, there are not the only eleven habits that contact center managers should possess, but they are guiding steps to find continued success in customer experience management. If you know of more habits of highly effective contact center managers, please share and feel free to comment.


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