Efficient call center management requires strategic planning, continuous learning, and hard work.
And as a call center supervisor, you’ll also have to coach your team to improve agent performance and deliver top-notch customer service.
However, doing all this can be difficult due to an overwhelming workload, inexperienced customer service representatives, etc.
In this article, we’ll cover 13 effective call center management tips. We’ll also discuss the top five things call center managers shouldn’t do while handling call center operations.
This Article Includes:
(Click on the link to go to a particular section)
- 13 Best Practices for Effective Call Center Management
- Hire the Right Employees
- Provide Continuous Training
- Communicate Regularly with Your Employees
- Prioritize Employee Engagement and Experience
- Establish Positive Incentives for Good Work
- Measure the Appropriate KPIs
- Schedule and Manage the Workforce
- Invest in Technology
- Use Call Monitoring Checklists
- Create a Quality Assurance Team
- Give Employees Targeted Feedback
- Balance Workflow to Meet Demand
- Establish a Customer-Focused Environment
- 5 Poor Call Center Management Practices to Avoid
Let’s get started.
13 best practices for effective call center management
Call center management is the process in which a manager organizes and handles all activities of a call center, such as:
- Hiring and training employees.
- Scheduling agent shifts.
- Forecasting customer demand.
- Managing incoming and outgoing calls.
- Providing a great customer service experience.
However, keep in mind that a contact center is different from a call center.
Unlike call center agents, a contact center agent deals with omnichannel customer queries from social media, email, voice calls, chatbots, etc.
So, the role of a contact center manager is typically more challenging than that of a call center manager. At the same time, many call centers offer these omnichannel services, blurring the lines even more.
Let’s look at 13 best practices that’ll help you manage your call center operations effortlessly:
1. Hire the right employees
Your call center agents influence customer satisfaction, retention, and business continuity by providing friendly and effective customer service.
So, you need to hire only the best agents for your business.
How do you do that?
You can follow the onboarding process detailed below:
- Write a detailed job description emphasizing the required skill set, e.g., effective communication, active listening, problem-solving, etc.
- Require applicants to take a competency-based assessment to judge their technical know-how.
These basic steps will help you attract the best talent available and provide an excellent customer service experience.
2. Provide continuous training
According to Gallup, about 87% of millennials believe training and development are important in the workplace, yet only 29% are satisfied with the opportunities available to them.
How can you improve your training program?
You can start by coaching your agents to handle every phone call with empathy.
Your call center agents, new and existing, should understand the customer’s emotions and offer them service accordingly. Coaching your agents to act empathetically can also help boost customer engagement and satisfaction.
Additionally, you should coach your frontline agents to answer technical questions confidently so your customers have a positive impression of your company’s professional services.
Ensure that your coaching sessions involve walkthroughs of useful tools, call center metrics, and other information you use to measure and increase employee productivity.
3. Communicate regularly with your employees
The best way to ensure employee productivity and satisfaction is to ask them directly.
You should try to have regular one-on-one sessions with each agent as it can reveal a lot about:
- How they work.
- If they’re struggling with some aspect.
- What they like about their job.
- Suggestions for management improvements.
Additionally, you can use these sessions to catch up with other agents, especially during a remote work setting where social isolation may impact their well-being.
This will help foster a healthy work environment, increasing agent satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.
4. Prioritize employee engagement and experience
It’s no secret that customer satisfaction hinges on employee satisfaction. For this, you need to focus on your employees’ needs.
You can implement the following call center best practices for this:
- Ensure your employees are clear about their tasks and how to achieve their targets.
- Use the right KPIs and other metrics to track their work quality.
- Reward them for excellent performance.
All of the above has a direct positive impact on employee engagement, increasing their productivity.
You can also enhance their overall experience by:
- Talking and listening to your agents regularly.
- Helping individual agents develop their careers.
- Providing a better onboarding experience by coaching them one-on-one.
- Conducting team happy hours.
- Organizing team outings.
You can also offer ongoing peer feedback and check-ins, which positively impact employees and ensure a better employee experience for all.
5. Establish positive incentives for good work
Setting the right goals can help your call center employees understand what’s expected of them and how to reach their targets.
At the same time, your employees can feel disheartened if they’re not recognized for their work. It can lead to job dissatisfaction which could contribute to your turnover rate.
So, you can implement an appreciation program where employees get public recognition when they perform well. You can decide which service level metrics to measure and which prizes to reward.
For instance, if a call center agent has a high FCR rate, you can offer public praise and even a bonus. Doing this sends the message that every agent’s work is recognized, creating a positive work environment.
6. Measure the appropriate KPIs
While you can use a host of call center metrics to measure your agents’ and overall call center performance, we’ll explore the four key ones below.
A) Average Handle Time (AHT)
AHT refers to the time an agent spends on a customer call resolving their queries. This includes hold time (during the call) and after-call work time on administrative tasks.
You can reduce this by introducing automation tools, WFM (Workforce Management) software, and even continuing education and training programs for your agents.
B) First Call Resolution (FCR)
FCR is the rate of customer queries solved on the first call itself with no follow-ups. A high FCR rate indicates high customer satisfaction and reduced operational costs.
Keeping this as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) helps you measure agent productivity and the effectiveness of your training.
C) Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
This quantifies how satisfied your customers are with your customer service representatives and your product/service. It further gives insight into how loyal a customer is and where to improve your workflows.
You can collect this data using surveys and feedback after every customer interaction.
D) Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS is used to measure customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.
Essential for business development, a high NPS score means customers have a positive relationship with your company. So, they are more likely to recommend your product/service to others.
7. Schedule and manage the workforce
An efficient schedule will help your agents have a seamless workflow and a stress-free workday.
A call center manager can create an effective agent schedule by considering agent ability, workload, peak hours, etc.
For example, since your senior agents could handle a large volume of calls, you can assign them shifts during peak hours. Similarly, you can assign a new hire a shift with less call frequency till they become more comfortable.
This way, your agents will be able to give their best at work, reducing the risk of burnout and helping them provide great customer service.
You can use a powerful performance management software system like Time Doctor to manage employee schedules and performance easily.
Time Doctor’s Scheduling feature can help you create agent schedules in one go and even edit an individual work schedule.
Read more about how Time Doctor’s functionalities help manage call center teams.
8. Invest in call center technology
Today, all call centers utilize various software solutions for quality monitoring, streamlining communication, and growing their business.
Some of these are:
A) Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
CTI helps computers and telephones interact with each other.
The software displays client information like name, history, etc. when the customer contacts. This will help your agent respond according to the customer’s call history and where they are on the customer journey.
B) Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
This software helps large companies save time by directing an incoming customer call to the agent who is best suited to handle and meet customer expectations.
C) Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
IVR is an automated self-service software system that uses pre-recorded voice commands to interact with customers and optimize the customer experience.
D) Predictive dialer
A predictive dialer can make outbound calls to customers automatically from a list.
It can also detect abandoned calls, busy signals, disconnected phone numbers, etc., and hand the outbound call over to the agent if it connects.
E) Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customer relationship management software helps agents provide a personalized customer experience by giving them access to all data regarding each customer interaction.
F) Workforce Management Software (WFM)
WFM, also called Workforce Optimization software, helps firms in the optimization of agent productivity and performance by managing their schedules. This management software suggests appropriate staffing changes and real-time forecasting of labor requirements.
9. Use call monitoring checklists
Call quality monitoring allows you to observe an agent’s behavior during a customer interaction over a phone call, email, or web chat support.
You can then score these interactions using a checklist to see if it meets your customer service criteria.
Use these call monitoring checklists to look for trends in customer sentiment. For instance, after each call, the QC team can check if a customer service agent’s performance achieves the call center’s standards for politeness, technical knowledge, speed, etc.
All these measures will help you establish a successful call center with customer satisfaction scores through the roof!
10. Create a quality assurance team
Just like how your call center needs efficient managers and supervisors to ensure everything’s running smoothly, it also needs a quality assurance (QA) team to look into agent performance.
While your call center supervisor might do this job themselves, it can lead to biases, especially if they’re in charge of their own teams. Instead, an outside third-party team can look at the situation objectively and note down areas for improvement.
A dedicated QA team can ensure you meet all your service level goals.
For instance, as an inbound call center, your primary KPI might be Average Handle Time, but it might be the Cost per Contact for an outbound call center.
The QA team can measure the appropriate KPI and gauge where you stand concerning your call quality management.
11. Give employees targeted feedback
Once you form a QA team and have your checklists in order, you can provide each agent with individual feedback based on quantifiable data.
You can commend them on performing well and provide coaching for areas requiring improvement. This specific feedback will help agents focus their efforts where needed, making overall quality management easier.
When you take this approach with all your agents, you’ll notice an uptick in agent satisfaction, directly increasing customer engagement.
12. Balance workflow to meet demand
Using call center software with forecasting abilities, you can predict when you’ll receive more customer calls.
Why is this important?
It’ll help you decide if you need to:
- Ramp up hiring for these peak periods.
- Employ more hourly temporary employees.
- Invest in more tools, such as telephones, desktops, etc.
When you are ready to handle customer demand without overworking your employees, they will feel cared for and understand you have their best interests at heart.
13. Establish a customer-focused environment
At the heart of every call center are the customers and their experiences.
When your call center provides fast, reliable, and consistent service, customers are more likely to stay loyal to your brand.
For instance, the customer now expects omnichannel services, so ensure that your web and chat support functions are integrated with the overall customer support. This will help your agents get to the root issue, allowing them to help customers quickly.
So, the key to running a successful call center is focusing on the customers as much as your employees.
While the above practices can help boost your call center performance, you could also jeopardize this growth in some ways.
5 poor call center management practices to avoid
You can provide a better employee and customer experience by avoiding these five mistakes.
1. Offering improper rewards
The purpose of rewarding call center employees is to boost morale and increase productivity. But, you may demotivate your agents if you provide improper rewards that they can’t use.
For instance, movie tickets may be an impractical reward as employees could be busy during that time or not interested in the movie.
Instead, you can pick rewards applicable to all employees, such as bonuses or paid time off.
2. Assigning long shifts
If you often assign long 10-12 hour shifts to your agents, they may overwork and provide poor customer support.
This can also lead to a poor employee experience and a high attrition rate.
You can use workforce optimization software to strategically schedule shorter shifts such that your team isn’t overburdened.
3. Poor communication
Because of the distance, your remote team members may not know how to communicate effectively with the on-site team members.
This may disrupt the workflow of your call center team.
That’s why you should consider investing in tools like Zoom and Slack to enable seamless communication within your team.
4. Using old call center technology
Using outdated methods like spreadsheet attendance tracking, manual payroll calculation, etc., may slow down your firm’s growth.
Additionally, your firm may lag if your workforce doesn’t use modern technology, especially if your competitors use state-of-the-art call center software.
To keep up, you can use tools like Zoho CRM, RingCentral Office, etc., to manage your sales, marketing, and customer support activities.
5. Long customer wait times
According to a recent survey, call centers face an average abandonment rate of 12% due to long wait times.
This means that your agents have to answer customer calls as soon as possible.
You can avoid putting customers on hold and boost agent productivity by:
- Hiring more agents according to the call volume.
- Using software like Automatic Call Distribution (ACD), will automatically route calls to free agents.
- Training agents so they won’t have to pass calls.
- Building an online knowledge base for FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and other related articles where customers can easily find solutions to their queries.
These can help improve the quality of your professional services and lead to a successful call center.
Call center management can be a hectic and tiresome job.
As a team leader, you have to take care of employee scheduling, training, and welfare to ensure business continuity.
But with the right call center solution and contact center management software, you can do all of this and more while guaranteeing optimal agent performance and customer satisfaction.
You can also refer to the best practices detailed above to boost your call center performance and productivity.
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.