Leading a Call Centre

Photo by Arlington Research on Unsplash

Someone recently reached out to me on LinkedIn for advice on taking up a role as a call centre supervisor. Here are a few points I could offer from my limited but growing experience. I hope many others find it helpful.

1. Begin with a clear vision

What do you expect of your team? How do you see them? Having a picture in mind would help you clarify what to focus on and how to go about it.

2. Love your team

It is easy to just look at them as ‘agents.’ But they are people. Note this in order to get the best from them. You are a guide sent to help them flourish. Relate with them so they can know you have their interests at heart. Without becoming too familiar or intrusive, get to know them as persons.

That idea of a leader as a distant and aloof figure is unhelpful.

3. Communicate

As part of loving your team, and a requirement for improving performance, is the need to communicate. This is going to be probably your biggest daily task. You must keep communicating with them along the following areas:

·        The vision of the entire unit or department

·        Your expectations of them

·        Recent developments in the company which affect the call centre

·        Individual performance or areas for improvement

·        Personal challenges and suggestions

4. Pay attention to your stats

Every contact centre should have a way of monitoring performance. One of the most common metrics is the service level. This is often defined as the percentage of calls picked within 20 seconds or within three rings. This is used as a measure of how responsive the team is to callers. There are a number of other metrics, including average handle time (AHT), abandon rate, etc. In their different ways, they help point out how well you are serving your clients. Whatever the metric in use or that you choose to adopt, pay attention to it and try to get your team also to understand them.

These stats mostly apply to calls. But you should also have a way of measuring performance on other channels like email or chat (e.g. WhatsApp). One key stat for email and chat would be response time. Depending on your organization, a 15-min to 45-min response time on mails might be good, while chat should even be less.

5. Improve Yourself

Set goals for yourself. Take courses that apply to your work or future path. Invest in resources that will help you become better. Your team will look up to you for counsel and guidance, so equip yourself as best as possible.

Also, work on your leadership capacity. The success of the team depends on you. So, take ownership. Every aspect of the team’s operations should receive your attention. This includes your infrastructure (computers, headsets, furniture, internet connection, etc), remuneration (your agents’ salaries and benefits), and operations (schedules, training, performance management, etc).

Above all, see this as work worth doing and be willing to give your best. You will succeed at it.

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