Management sets the tone for an efficient workplace. Good management knows how to manage its workforce. Great management keeps employees motivated and in line with the company strategy and goals.
However, poor call center management practices can cause some serious damage not only internally, but also at a customer service level.
I spoke with a few call center agents who shared with me their experience of how poor management can lower customer service.
We don't mean to point fingers, but it's important to address the heart of the issue in order to fix what need fixing and get the wheels greased up and running again!
Agents Share 7 Poor Call Center Management Practices
Transparency is important when it comes to setting performance standards. Clear metrics should be put in place to accurately measure employees' performance. This allows for managers to take the appropriate action based on the given results. Meaning that underperformers can be coached and overachievers can be recognized.
1. People are not held accountable
If employees are not held accountable, not only does management send a sign of weakness, but recognition or coaching cannot be assigned. Moreover, accountability helps maintain performance levels up to standard to ensure quality customer service.
2. Lame reward programsNow that you are keeping employees accountable for their performance, it is important to reward them accordingly.
As you already know, teddy bears and free food just don’t cut it anymore. Try to think more along the lines of teambuilding, wellness classes, and a fabulous lunch with the director.
These are all rewards that can serve to engage employees, create a positive experience and help them be more in line with the company's goal and culture. It’s a double whammy!
3. Setting up wrong performance metrics
Metrics are what set performance standards and let employees know what they should achieve in X amount of time. These numbers allow employees to know how well they are doing their jobs. However, could it be that the metrics put in place in your company are actually hurting the quality of your customer service?
Here’s an example: Metrics put in place for agents can support company goals but hurt customer service. Do you have a metric so agents complete their calls under a certain amount of time? Instead, try a first-call-resolution metric. Not only will this avoid unhappy customers because your agents are trying to speed up the call process, but it might also decrease your number of callbacks. Who doesn’t like a win-win situation?
In short, setting up solid metrics and knowing what works and what doesn't will help employees better perform and improve your customer service.
4. Assigning long shiftsMaybe you're about to reach the peak season of your business and you need people to cover longer hours. Although most employees will probably not complain directly to you, such actions can leave employees disgruntled, tired and unmotivated, all of which can lead to a decrease in customer service. Even if assigning long shifts for the high season might seem like a good temporary solution, it can do more harm than good in the long run.
Remember that employees are a company’s most valued asset, so it’s always wise to try to keep them happy and healthy!
5. Poor staff training
Like releasing an animal that's been held in captivity, employees need to be taught how to survive in the wild land of call centers. Agents should be taught the ABCs of handling a call efficiently, Team Leaders should know how to boost motivation and handle their agents, and so on and so forth.
By receiving proper training, employees can perform to their maximum potential and handle situations accordingly. But training does not have to be for new hires only.
Refreshers can serve as a great way to make sure staff is in line with expectations. What’s important is that you put aside the time and the resources necessary to train employees to make their job easier and more productive.
When training is done right, quality is quick to follow.
6. Using old tools and technology
Today, there are so many tools available to help you save time and be more productive. Don't let Team Leaders spend all their time creating reports and analyzing the results. Take some time to research the right tools that would make a good match for your company. Believe it or not, there are better things out there than excel spreadsheets! Ignoring the potential benefits of technology can lower productivity and performance over time.
7. Not giving effective feedback
The objective of feedback is to serve as a tool to improve and develop employee performance. Sometimes it can even serve as an opportunity to motivate employees.
However, if not done right, feedback can be a synonym of criticism and make a person feel under attack and lower their morale. Make sure that feedback is supportive and handed out in a constructive manner that will help employees develop.
Remember that feedback not only opens doors for improvement but should also serve to praise and recognize a job well done.
8. Blaming bad metrics on the individual agents
Poor call center management practices can keep you from seeing and addressing widespread problems within your system.
It’s way too convenient to blame poor performance on individual agents when performance metrics aren’t reaching your call center goals. However, it’s important to take a step back and understand why your agents are constantly underperforming.
Firing staff isn’t your one-stop-shop solution.
Watch for metrics trends and look at the bigger picture instead of focusing on individuals. There could be a widespread issue your agents are having trouble with.
Whether it’s improved training, new software, or setting more achievable metrics, solving that root problem may be the answer to getting the desired results.
9. Delegating too much or too little
Delegating is an art that needs to be mastered. Delegating too much can impose overwhelming amounts of work on others give them responsibilities they are not trained to handle.
But delegating too little can keep call center managers unnecessarily busy and unable to focus on what needs their undying attention.
This poor call center management practice can get you (and your company) into trouble quickly.
If you have a hard time handing over tasks, take the time to write down your priorities and see where your level of expertise is most needed.
Tasks that require less know-how can be assigned to someone else, leaving you more time to concentrate on what only you can do and giving your agents the chance to shine.
10. Staying too far removed for agents’ work
Sometimes, poor call center management practices have a lot to do with how engaged you are with your employees’ work. Although it isn’t your job to do your agents’ work for them, it’s important you understand the struggles of the job.
You’ll have a difficult time knowing how to help your agents improve their performance if you don’t get involved with the nitty-gritty of the daily work.
Step into your agents’ shoes from time to time.
Give them an unexpected break and take over their responsibilities to better understand their needs. Getting closer to your employees’ work may spark your creativity in finding better ways to help them manage and avoid poor call center management practices.
11. Relying on temp workers too much
It’s great to have a pool of temp workers handy in case someone leaves their job unexpectedly or you have a sudden surge in calls.
However, relying too much on temp workers is a poor call center management practice.
Use temp workers to help you meet temporary needs. Think of temporary agents as those who do what others don’t have time to do. Use them as backup, not your primary resource.
Rely on your permanent team members as much as possible. Prioritize their development. When you give them the attention and responsibilities they need to thrive, your permanent team will get stronger as time goes by.
12. Not recognizing your agents’ improvements
If you want to avoid poor call center management practices, make sure you don’t focus too much on the negative. Yes, you do need to let your agents know when they’re letting down on the job or need more training.
Provide constant feedback to let them know what they can improve and where they are excelling.
Make sure your agents know the metrics they are being measured against and what they need to do to reach their goals. Showing them their progress over time serves as a great motivator to keep up the good work.
Recognition is enough to inspire better work, more loyalty, and better communication.
13. Setting the wrong goals
What can you do when you find that your agents aren’t meeting the goals you set? Worse yet, they may be meeting their metric goals yet it doesn’t seem to be impacting the bigger picture. The solution may lie in redefining your end goals.
To put an end to this type of poor call center management practices, ensure your goals are measurable. After all, if you can’t evaluate your progress, how can you know how well you did?
Always make sure the goals you set are realistically achievable. That doesn’t mean you can’t set high standards and make ambitious goals. Just don’t set goals that are so unrealistic that your agents have no hope of succeeding.
The most effective goals are also incremental. Incremental goals are small and frequent. They help your agents stay focused on the present moment. Long-term goals are fine, but they aren’t as likely to inspire correct actions unless they’re backed up by shorter, more frequent goals.
Managing a call center in the most effective way demands that you pay attention to the needs of your agents as well as the overall objectives of your company. The good news is that you can do both by avoiding poor call center management practices and adopting more effective ones.
Take a problem-solving approach. Develop the attitude that you can always learn more about how to help your agents perform better. The company’s interests are, of course, important. You need to make the most of your agents’ strengths if you want to deliver the best results for your company.
As a call center manager, what you do bridges the gap between company and worker needs? Use appropriate call center practices, and you can make a powerful impact on your call center’s success!
Has your company practiced any of these poor call center management practices? If so, what steps have they taken to overcome their challenges and optimize their workforce? Let us know in the comment box below!