Workforce Optimization Featured Article

Management Challenges of Moving from the Contact Center to the Back Office

December 04, 2013

By Tracey E. Schelmetic,
TMCnet Contributor

Contact center managers face unique challenges in the workplace. Ostensibly, they are there to ensure that the contact center meets its goals, operates according to preset metrics and performs to the best of its ability to serve customers. In reality, however, contact center managers often find themselves doing not only these things, but acting as chief troubleshooter, personal therapist, headset-fixer, computer problem solver, referee, social planner and blame-taker.

For contact center managers switching to back-office functions, however, the challenges are even stiffer. If you’re new to the company, you may not yet understand the back office’s unique culture. You likely don’t know the workers and may be just learning the processes and systems yourself. You may have been asked to manage the back-office operations in addition to the contact center. So where to begin?

In a recent blog post, NICE’s Solutions Marketing Manager, Erin Stubing, prepares a sort of guidebook for contact center managers in their first two weeks in a back-office management position. The goal is to help managers fit into the culture, understand the needs and pick up the running of the facility where it’s most critical, particularly in terms of boosting back-office utilization.

Day 0: Set Aside Your Expectations

According to Stubing, back-office employees are almost always working in the range of 50 percent utilization (versus the call center’s 80 percent). Without the type of accountability technology that the call center offers (reader boards and workforce management dashboards), it becomes harder to determine and improve back-office utilization. New managers should be patient and keep their eyes and ears open, learning in time to decide what the optimal level of productivity should be.

Days 1-7: Arrive Ready to Listen

It’s important to remember that while the organization or the department is new to you, you are also new to the organization or department. Stubing recommends listening far more than speaking, and asking as many relevant questions as possible. Supervisors and other key employees are a great source of guidance in the first weeks. Back-office employees will appreciate a management approach that actually listens to their comments and concerns.

Days 7-14: Now Communicate Your Goals

Stubing recommends keeping utilization targets reasonable. Improving productivity may require patience, and supervisors and back-office personnel need to understand where you’re coming from, why you have set the goals you have and what is it expected of them (and also how it will benefit them).

“Also let them know how and why targets for productivity, service levels, error reduction or other tangible metrics will be changing,” writes Stubing. “This does not actually need to happen in a day-one, big bang fashion, but it should be at the core of every decision you make for the short term. Crawl, walk, and then – run!”

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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