Many of us have suffered through bad managers. Whether it was in our first job at a burger shack or in our professional careers, being directed by a manager who lacks the personnel or motivational skills can have lasting, deleterious effects. Sometimes managers are corrupted by power, but more often than not, bad managing styles happen when employees are promoted to leadership positions without proper training or support.
This is common within call centers. A top-performing agent is identified and then promoted and expected to perform at the same level without clear expectations or training. Sometimes these newly minted managers can intuit how to lead, but more often than not, they struggle to motivate and retain employees, and meet the company’s objectives. Most organizations with call centers realize the value of agent training, but miss out on the equal importance of management training. When call centers are struggling to meet its basic KPIs, it is often because the managers or team leaders lack the adequate skills to empathize, communicate, motivate and inspire. When call centers have well-trained staff who are supported by well-trained managers, the organization as a whole will realize the benefits of less turnover and greater achievement of KPIs.
How is Management Training Different?
Managing call centers requires specific skills and techniques. Beyond the basic knowledge and understanding of the day-to-day operations, call center managers need to know how to communicate key metrics and act as coaches who can inspire the whole team to perform at their best. Additionally, call center managers need to possess awareness of human resource and legal issues so they can ensure compliance in all areas.
It is no secret that call centers can be very stressful environments. Handling calls from aggravated customers all day takes its toll, so managers must also know how to support their staff and provide teaching moments throughout the day.
Given these demands, the training requirements for call center managers is unique. Proficient managers of call centers should be able to:
- Lead with integrity and lead by example
- Understand productivity and quality measurements and know how to get agents to perform
- Create meaningful goals and get team buy-in on the shared vision as well as set individual goals for agents
- Monitor performance and provide relevant feedback
- Provide meaningful reviews that help employees reach their full potential
- Troubleshoot challenging situations and know how to navigate negotiable and non-negotiable situations
As the above list demonstrates, these are often skills that require training. Call centers are demanding environments that test the skills and patience of its agents. In order for them to perform at their best and deliver the quality, customer experiences that you expect, they need to be led by strong managers who can empathize, motivate and mitigate conflict. When both the agents and the managers are invested in quality training programs, your call center will see higher productivity, less turnover and quicker achievement of the KPIs that maximize customer satisfaction and profitability.