Call Center Scheduling Feature Article
December 20, 2013
Effective Contact Center Managers Schedule Time to Connect with Agents
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
Contact center managers are some of the busiest people in the enterprise. Not only must they keep an eye on quality metrics, call queues and service levels, they are expected to solve problems, troubleshoot technology and software and train and mentor agents…all at the same time. It’s not a surprise, therefore, that the quality and skill of a manager’s approach is often the determinant of the success of the contact center.
For starters, it’s about effective communication. According to a recent blog post by Impact Learning Systems’ Rachel Miller, too many contact center managers aren’t direct with their employee agents, which is an inefficient and time-wasting approach.
“As a call center manager or anyone in a leadership role one of the most important skills you should possess is the ability to communicate effectively,” said Miller. “Saying what you mean will create a positive work environment. Being able to confidently praise and correct your staff will reinforce your leadership role and company values.”
Studies have shown that agents who believe they are accomplishing something positive and not just pulling a paycheck – helping people, for instance – take more pride in their jobs and are more likely to view the contact center as a career than a means of paying the rent. When this happens, employee engagement is more likely. So it’s critical that, while being direct, you are also fair, helpful and speak to agents like they were adults and not unruly children. That said, it’s also important to stay on the company’s message, says Miller.
“If your message is vague or you go off on a few different tangents in the same breath, you will confuse and mislead your listener,” she writes. “Managing is not a passive aggressive role. You cannot hope that your employee will ‘get the gist’ of what you’re saying and make the appropriate behavioral changes. As a call center coach say exactly what you mean and follow it up by setting an expectation such as, ‘Can you do that for me today?’”
That said, it’s also critical that you ensure that employees can indeed “do that for you today” by maintaining an effective schedule. Employees who are rushed, overworked or harassed will never be effective employees, and contact center agents who lack the right skills to be handling a certain segment of customers (tech support questions) when they lack the knowledge and experience for it will be discouraged as well as ineffective.
As a result, a robust scheduling solution is one of a contact center manager’s best friends. It enables them to be more effective in training, coaching and mentoring: training time and one-on-one coaching can be built right into the schedule, ensuring that these critical functions are not ignored or given short-shrift. If you never have time to get to know and understand your agents, it’s probable that agents will feel like a commodity. This is a dangerous and expensive mind-set for any company that values both its bottom line and the quality of the service it offers to customers.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi