Who is Responsible for Creating a Good Call Center Experience?

A call center’s management team hugely influences the quality of its customer experience, and drives a business forward. The way managers recruit, hire, train, and nurture their workforce means the difference between a call center that drives profits, and one that eats away at the bottom line. Here are four ways managers can ensure they attract and retain a winning call center team.

1. Position the Job as a Career

Employment postings must communicate that your call center job is valuable, offers strong incentives, and opportunity for career growth. If ads and the hiring team convey the position instead as a dead-end job with little room for growth, qualified candidates won’t be in a hurry to accept an offer. But call centers are a legitimate starting off point for long and satisfying careers. Your team must know that, recognize that, and communicate it to applicants every step of the way.

2. Examine The Working Environment

Is your call center management team creating a dynamic office space? Or is it a dark room with crowded desks, stuffy air, and nothing to look at? Work environment is critical to employee morale. It’s also critical for attracting talent. Candidates may choose not to accept an offer if the work environment isn’t friendly and inviting. Even if your call center is in a dark warehouse, take the time to spruce it up with artwork, plants, and colorful posters that showcase the successes of your team. A little bit of color and personality can go a long way in improving employee satisfaction.

Managers set up a call center for success or failure.

Managers set up a call center for success or failure.

3. Seek Customer-Focused Employees

Every organization has specific, required skill sets for new call center personnel. Often times, hiring managers match an applicant’s training or years call center experience to make job offers, while ignoring very critical soft skills. When hiring for open call center positions, it can be helpful to think creatively about who you want to hire, rather than choosing the first applicant with call center experience.

Expanding employee searches to include candidates who don’t come from a traditional call center background helps to cultivate a team that has a variety of unique skills. Not all calls that come in to a call center are the same, and unique problems require unique solutions. Through a comprehensive training program, center administrators can train technical employees to become customer-service oriented, and can help develop technical skills in those who are talented in the softer side of customer experience management. Customized call routing can ensure that customers are connected with an agent who is best equipped to resolve their issue quickly, and on the first call.

4. Conduct Structured One-on-Ones and Performance Management

Many call centers are impersonal places. Managers may send out weekly call reports to agents, but they might not spend a lot of time talking to their employees. In addition to quarterly performance reviews, supervisors should schedule weekly, structured one-on-ones where they review metrics, give praise for strong performances, and discuss opportunities for development. These meetings allow managers to set clear expectations, help agents stay on track from week to week, and can guide employees in their career development plans. They also tell employees that management cares about their success and is invested in their work.

5. Unique Career Development Opportunities

Investing in employees is critical for cultivating employee engagement and long-term call center success. Many centers utilize traditional training and development programs, but in order to create an environment of engaged employees, call centers must think outside the box. Employee mentoring can be a valuable way to improve efficiencies, nurture skill development, and create an effective and collaborative team.

The innovative Service Desk Mentoring Program at Canvas IT was created as a learning partnership between Tier 1 and Tier 2 team members for the purposes of sharing information, knowledge and insight with respect to processes, troubleshooting, and professional acumen.

Through this program, mentees acquire new skills, develop their own leadership abilities, expand relationships beyond their immediate team members, and gain a more robust understanding of the organization from the inside out. Successful mentees also have the opportunity to “pay it forward” by mentoring other employees in the future. Mentors in the program have the opportunity to develop their own coaching and leadership skills, make new contacts outside of their immediate team, gain new perspectives through their relationships with mentees, all while feeling more “plugged in” to the mission of the company.

The participants are not the only beneficiaries of this program. Canvas IT and its client companies benefit from this deliberate and systematic knowledge transfer between employees. The Mentoring Program provides management with unique opportunities to identify talented employees who can and should be tapped for leadership development. All of this leads to higher employee satisfaction and engagement, and drives the desire to deliver raving-fan customer services at every point of contact.

Building a strong and effective call center starts with a management team. When time and effort is put into attracting, hiring, and nurturing the right people – from the top down – it leads to great customer experiences, and a stronger and bottom line.

Kent Elmer

Kent Elmer is a CPA with more than 20 years of broad-based experience ranging from Big 4 public accounting to CFO level positions at a variety of companies. Kent began his career at Arthur Andersen & Co. After gaining a strong foundation, he made the transition to the private sector. His public company experience includes various positions including Controller and CFO of a NASDAQ software company (IQ Software Corporation). He has also been the CFO of a number of early and growth stage technology ventures in both software and hardware (Carecentric Solutions, Inc., Digital Furnace, Inc., R.F. Solutions, Inc.). In addition, Kent spent time on the West Coast with Broadcom Corporation assisting in the acquisition and integration of over 10 early stage companies in a twelve-month period. Every private sector company that Kent has worked for has successfully navigated its way through the acquisition process.

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