<img alt="" src="https://secure.rime8lope.com/156671.png" style="display:none;">
 Close
3 Tactics for Managing Call Center Agents More Effectively

By: Frank Camp on March 6th, 2019

Print/Save as PDF

3 Tactics for Managing Call Center Agents More Effectively

Contact Center Management

Managing a call center requires a solid knowledge of business management concepts, but it also takes something more. Call centers are like nothing else. They are high-volume and customer facing, and they have their own unique set of challenges because of that. To be effective, you need management that knows how to produce at elevated volumes while providing effective customer service. We call this “sanity” - doing the same thing over and over and expecting the SAME result. For each call, a personalized result. One million calls, one person at a time.

Supervisors need to coach customer-facing associates to help them be empathetic and helpful while processing as many calls as possible every hour.

It is a challenge, but it is not impossible. If your company wants to create a more efficient work environment, you just need to have management in place that is capable of leading with the following ideas in mind.

 

1. Invest in the Right People

Managing a call center well starts with having the right people– on both sides of the proverbial desk. Remember, customer service is a people-driven business, so start there. When you put the right personalities together, you will be able to keep both employee morale and production as high as possible.

Strong Interview Process

Having a strong interview process is crucial to making sure that you have the right people on staff. Even someone who is very experienced in customer service could end up being a bad fit for your company or its current needs. For instance, you may want to have a more laid-back manner of speaking with your customers. While you would never want to cross a line, you are looking for people who are more casual in the way they speak because you feel that represents your brand better. If that’s the case, you may not want someone with a very rigid approach to management or with a very haughty way of speaking. In contrast, having someone who is more precise is exactly what other companies desire. A good approach is to first uncover your needs, define the type of agent needed to meet them and recruit for that position.

Your interview process needs to call out the right people for your company from all that apply.

Onboard Correctly

After you have selected the right people, make sure to onboard them correctly. Too many companies approach onboarding by starting with what information they want a new hire to have about the company and its processes, but we think they have that backward.

At GCS, we try to meet employees where they are and work backward from there. This way, we can create employee training and onboarding materials that fit each individual, align with their habits, and encourage the type of workplace behaviors we want to see in the workplace.

For instance, some employees may benefit from a popup window that provides specific information on demand. Other agents may have a difficult time remembering all the shortcuts and would prefer to have that information presented in a window that is always open. We can accommodate both of these new associates and offer training that meets them where they are most ready to learn.

 

2. Have the Right Tools

Next, take a look at the tools that you have available to you and your Supervisors. Sometimes you are limited by the methods and processes you have in place, but other times you will find that you cannot go any faster or more effectively. Think of it like writing. You are only going to be able to write out so many words per minute with a pencil. At some point, you cannot get faster. Even if you are able to keep going without error, you can only write so fast. If you want to write faster, you will have to change your tools – get a typewriter, a computer, or dictation software.

Your call center is no different than this writing example.

You can answer a certain number of calls with the people and technology you have. While you may be able to boost efficiency to a degree, you might need different tools to get truly faster.

Technology

A big area for improvement in a call center is often the technology. Self-service technology can be helpful in handling calls more quickly. These systems are capable of answering simple information without the need for a live agent to handle the connection. In addition, they can be configured to route calls to subject matter experts so that customers have minimal wait times and can enjoy first-call resolution, more often.

Technology for call centers can also simplify the number of screens that customer service agents have to navigate. The more consolidated and synchronized your systems, the fewer programs your agents need to use and the fewer screens they have to move through. Business rules, AI, call routing and other technologies can make throughput more efficient


The Complete Guide to Call Center Training

Everything You Need to Know about Improving Call Center Performance with Training

Learn more 


Continuing Education

Also, consider the training opportunities you have in place for your call center staff. Offering continued education programs can help your agents continually improve.

At GCS, we use two systems to help our agents be their best. The first is a proprietary soft skills training program that provides skills and techniques to build empathy and connect quickly with customers. The ability to practice these skills during planned times ensures our employees are constantly improving. It also provides a sense of accomplishment. The skills learned in the program are not only recognized within our organization, but they can be universally applied.

We also designed a system we call F.E.E.D. – Feedback for Everyone Every Day. We ask our managers to provide regular and consistent coaching to our agents every day. This way, small differences in call handling can be addressed immediately, either praising good performance or coaching subpar handling. Behavior is better reinforced this way, but it is also easier for employees to stay engaged with the project and remember that they are part of a bigger system when they receive daily coaching.

The Quality Assurance team supports the F.E.E.D. program by providing recordings and suggestions for praise and improvement. Technology can “listen in” to calls and flag key areas for coaching or provide employee report cards.

 

3. Set Goals and Use Data

Finally, make sure that you are setting quantifiable and objective goals for employee performance. When you track these things in a measurable way, it is easier for your agents to understand what you expect from them.

Explain Performance

The trick is to offer a numerical value to explain performance and to make that number relevant. For instance, if you want your employees to take more calls per hour, you can’t just tell them to get your customers off the phone faster. Call quality would suffer, and many agents would not understand exactly what you expect.

Instead, you could track the number of calls an employee takes per hour. This lets you explain how many calls you would like to see that person handle every hour. In addition, you can talk to that agent about the call volume they handle relative to the call center average or the average for that day/hour/week. These comparisons help clarify what you want.

Provide Coaching

You can use these numbers to provide more informed coaching. If you know an agent has improved their call handling by 2 minutes per call but they are still off the average for their shift, you can have a conversation about why that might be happening. Often, an agent could use additional coaching in a specific skill or the Supervisor can identify the types of calls where they struggle relative to their peers.

Conclusion

Call center managers can help their agents be as effective as possible by investing in the right people and onboarding them properly. From there, they should make sure they have the right tools in place and that they are tracking performance in a meaningful or measurable way.

GCS can help train your managers to be more effective using techniques that have been proven effective. You can also count on us to provide agent training or design a training program that helps your agents be effective. We can work with your quality team to improve performance. And more. See how The Complete Guide to Call Center Training can help you reach your goals.


The Complete Guide to Call Center Training

Everything You Need to Know about Improving Call Center Performance with Training

Learn more