Effective management is essential for a successful call center. A great manager must lead by example, providing support for agents while managing multiple processes and workflows.
The manager connects day-to-day tasks to the overall goals of the organization, serving as the link between the work of agents and the vision of upper management. Working in such a people-focused environment can be immensely rewarding, but it’s also challenging, requiring leadership skills, product knowledge, and more. If you want to meet these challenges and become a more effective call center manager, you must be aware of these seven pitfalls.
Without effective leadership, any organization will struggle. This is particularly true of the call center, where a productive, engaged workforce is needed to meet rising customer expectations. In the absence of a capable manager, core functions like successful hiring, attracting customers, and increasing profit will stutter. As a manager, you must always strive to improve your call center and align everyone around organizational goals. A poor leader doesn’t only slow down progress, they can reverse it. Below, we will explore some of the main reasons why effective managers are essential to call center success.
Delivering excellent customer service is one of the key aims of any contact center, and managers are directly responsible for making this a reality. A manager must oversee how agents interact with customers and respond to queries, and on occasion, even step in to handle call escalations and assist customers. Without an effective manager to ensure agents are delivering the highest possible level of customer service, key metrics like CSAT and NPS will suffer.
Speaking of metrics, a key aspect of the manager’s role is aligning call center KPIs with higher-level organizational goals. As a link between agents and upper management, a call center manager must select the right KPIs to present to the C-suite. Selecting the appropriate KPIs also helps to improve productivity, enhance customer experience, and inform decision-making.
Agents are the frontline of any call center, and if they aren’t performing at their best, the whole organization will struggle. As a manager, you are responsible for empowering agents to succeed. To do so, you need to motivate your team every day, providing the necessary support and keeping everyone focused on the task at hand. Agent retention may be an ongoing challenge in the industry, with NICE reporting an average attrition rate of 42 percent, but strong leadership can protect your organization from churn.
Delivering the right training is another key aspect of the manager’s job. This goes far beyond the initial agent onboarding stage—continuous learning is key to a productive, thriving team. Using tools like scorecards, you can identify areas for improvement and deliver tailored training based on this data. This could cover anything from soft skills to regulatory compliance. The important thing is that the training is targeted to each agent. Without an effective manager to keep the team in top shape via coaching, standards will slip.
Every team has its stars, and a good leader knows how to identify and support these top performers. In your role as manager, you are responsible for identifying those agents who excel and encouraging them to grow. There is a path to management for agents who display the right traits, and if you think someone in your team has what it takes, you can be a mentor figure for them as they advance their career.
Call center work is a team sport. A good manager helps to assemble, develop, and guide this team as they strive to hit their targets. Hiring the right people is part of the process, but no team will succeed long-term without the right leadership. An effective manager will do more than improve performance; they will make the team feel valued and convince them to stick around.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the bottom line, and the day-to-day work of the call center management goes a long way to determining the organization’s profitability. If a manager is tracking the wrong metrics, struggling to motivate the team, or failing to satisfy customers, the profit margin will shrink. On the other hand, a manager that gets their team firing on all cylinders can be a driving force for revenue growth.
There are plenty of steps you can take to be a successful call center manager, but it’s just as important to be aware of what you shouldn’t do. Bad managers can negatively impact morale and company processes, leading to poor performance, increased agent turnover, and decreased profit. If you want to avoid such problems, look out for these seven pitfalls.
In the people-focused world of the call center, emotional intelligence, the ability to recognize and regulate emotions, is key. It is a vital soft skill that impacts both agent and customer experience. Managers who dismiss the importance of emotional intelligence will struggle to handle conflict, communicate effectively, or build meaningful relationships.
While it may sound admirable to take on extra work, the reality is that taking on too much can actually impact performance levels. By spreading yourself too thin, you limit your ability to truly focus on what matters most. Delegating less important tasks helps you to focus on the big issues and shows your agents that you trust them with added responsibility, boosting morale.
An effective manager understands that a culture of overworking will only lead to burnout and resentment. More importantly, they understand that, as a leader, they set the tone and hold the responsibility for promoting a healthy work-life balance. Nobody wants to come to work for a manager with unrealistic expectations, so it’s important that you set achievable goals and understand that your agents are people, not drones. Making the call center a place where your team enjoys their work will reap much greater results than a toxic environment where agents can’t wait to leave every day.
With all the small details that go into keeping a call center running, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. While the busywork can pile up and pull you in different directions, it’s vital that you always take time to step back and recalibrate. In the end, your performance will be judged on your ability to achieve organizational goals and meet your team’s targets. This ties into our previous point about delegating. If you find yourself losing focus, perhaps it’s time to delegate and get back to your main duties as a manager.
‘Show, don’t tell’ is considered a golden rule for writers—and it can also be applied to call center managers. It’s not enough to tell your agents what you want from them; you must display those same qualities and lead by example. If a manager is preaching about soft skills but fails to display any empathy or emotional intelligence in their own interactions with customers, why would agents listen to them? To motivate your team, you have to hold yourself to the same standards.
Rapid advancement in technology has led to huge innovation in the industry. While agents are still your most valuable resource, you can enable them to perform at their best by investing in the right tools. Managers who fail to keep up with new call center technology like conversational analytics will miss out on improvements in efficiency and customer experience.
While every manager will monitor metrics in relation to performance targets, it’s important to remember that you can also use analytics software to derive actionable insights around team performance. With QA software, you can generate a data-driven basis for your decision-making.
Avoiding pitfalls is one thing, but truly excellent call center managers are always looking for ways to get better. With a recent report finding that 82 percent of employees would consider leaving their job because of a bad manager, it’s important to pay attention to your leadership style. By following the steps below, you can become an even more effective manager.
In the call center, communication is king. As a manager, you need to develop a rapport with agents, customers, and upper management. The relationships you forge with others will inform your understanding of how your call center is running and what changes you may want to make. Transparent, collaborative relationships with agents allow you to educate but also actively listen and learn about their needs and challenges. Be sure to schedule meetings and organize regular one-on-ones to get a full picture of how your agents are doing. Through good communication with your team, you can clearly convey the organization’s vision while also identifying performance issues.
As noted in the previous section, failing to lead by example can be detrimental to the call center manager’s success. Its key aspect is demonstrating integrity. As the head of the team, you need to set the standard for ethics and transparency in the call center. This will not only instill a sense of trust among team members, but it will also encourage a culture of transparency, leading to better morale and engagement. If you can demonstrate the core values that make a great manager, you will be better equipped to inspire these values in your agents.
Everyone makes mistakes, managers and agents alike. The important thing is that you are accountable for these mistakes and treat them as opportunities for learning. Delegating tasks to agents is fine—delegating responsibility for your mistakes isn’t. You should also channel emotional intelligence we discussed earlier and engage in active listening to gather feedback from agents and understand what you could do better next time.
Developing a stronger understanding of your company’s product or service is essential if you want to become a more effective call center manager. As a leader, you must have the right knowledge to adequately support your team, advise agents, and assist with customer queries. Becoming an expert can help you better solve internal problems, resolve conflict, and handle escalations.
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and practice what you preach. Get on the phone, take some calls, handle difficult customers, and solve complex problems. Overseeing operations is one thing, but your agents will respect you much more if you lead by example. Direct interactions with customers will also help you to better understand their needs. You may garner insights into what you could be doing differently or how you could change things to better serve customers.
Learning is a lifelong habit, especially for those in management positions. No matter how much you know, there’s always room to grow. This is particularly true in the call center industry, with new technology emerging on a near-daily basis and processes always in need of refinement. To stand out as a leader, you should invest in your own development and identify opportunities to upskill. You could study for a new certification, attend a bootcamp, travel to an event, or even seek out a mentor.
A great manager is the glue that holds the call center together, aligning day-to-day operations with the broader vision of the organization. While managing a call center is challenging and requires leadership skills, product knowledge, and personal integrity, it’s also rewarding. As a manager, you have the opportunity to help agents grow, assist customers, and drive your company forward. To reap these rewards, you must be careful to avoid common leadership pitfalls like failing to delegate, disregarding emotional intelligence, and neglecting data insights. Using a purpose-built QA tool like Scorebuddy, you can avoid these mistakes. Scorebuddy gives you direct insights into every aspect of call center performance, with in-depth analytics tools allowing you to generate high-level reports and drill down for individual data. To see how Scorebuddy can enhance your QA process, request your free 14-day trial today.