Customers depend on well-trained, well-informed service agents for a quality experience — and this only happens through effective management.
Working in a team leader role in a call center environment can be daunting, especially if you have a large group of agents looking to you for guidance and encouragement.
But a good team leader has the power to improve both employee and customer satisfaction, IF you make the most of the opportunity.
In this post, we’ll cover all the details you need to know to take on a team leader role, what problems you’ll have to overcome and everything else to make a positive impact.
Effective Leadership in a Call Center: Primary Responsibilities
Every job brings its own duties and responsibilities. In the team leader role, you’re tasked with overseeing a specific group of agents, though its size may vary.
Larger companies rely more on team leaders than those with just a few employees, and it’s vital that your group is on a manageable scale. You may have already worked at the call center (or another) as a team leader, or be a service agent promoted into the position.
Regardless of how you got the job, there are multiple key factors in a team leader role to consider:
- Undertake training to improve employees’ performance
- Monitor work to identify issues and track progress
- Serve as a conduit between the call center management and agents
- Take agents’ views and feedback on board, with an aim to improve their workplace experience
- Make sure agents keep company values, best practices and more in mind
It may not always be an easy job, but it’s a natural progression for service agents with extensive experience handling customers and colleagues. Leadership in a call center has to be transparent and hands-on, so any employee who understands this could be suited to a team leader role.
Strong interpersonal skills, a drive to succeed, a desire to learn and staying organized are key traits of good team leaders too.
Management will expect you to be a motivational figure for service agents within your team, driving them on to achieve their best, deliver customer experiences of the highest standard and ultimately prevent problematic mistakes.
Team leaders should stay in close contact with call center management to understand they know exactly what’s expected of both themselves and their agents.
What Problems will a Team Leader Face?
Team leaders have their own challenges to overcome. These are similar to those faced by service agents and managers:
Learning from mistakes
Bill Gates once said something about customer satisfaction that everyone responsible for leadership in a call center should take notice of:
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
It’s simple, honest and clear — just as your customer service should be. Gates touches on the importance of learning from mistakes and utilizing that failure (however major or minor) to deliver a better quality of CX in the future.
As a team leader, you’ll have to promote customer satisfaction and prevent agents making mistakes in the first place. But when errors or bad attitudes cause unhappiness in your customers, you’ll have to educate agents on how to put this right.
Customers can get frustrated, upset and even abusive. That makes agents’ work harder, and they may find they’re unable to keep a level head or provide the caller with the result they want.
This is where team leaders might be required to step in and talk to the customer to resolve the issue. Negative publicity and poor online reviews could be caused by ill-judged service, impacting the company’s overall reputation.
Handling an aggressive person by phone or live chat is a lot easier than doing so face-to-face, but can still be a challenge. Team leadership in a call center demands the ability to stay focused and provide great service in all cases.
Working in a team leader role means you may face resistance from certain agents. Perhaps they feel you’re being too strict or are untrustworthy. Perhaps they believe themselves to be more capable of the job than yourself.
Whatever the cause, resistance from team-members can cause problems for team leaders. Fostering a strong bond between yourself and the agents under you is a big help, but this may be difficult if resistance is already in place.
Discussing any issues directly with the person(s) involved is the most practical way to handle their dissatisfaction. This can be hard if you’ve been promoted into a leadership position and are overseeing people who were on the same level as you weeks earlier, but must be done regardless.
Tips for Effective Team Leadership in a Call Center
Some key points for team leaders to bear in mind:
Anyone taking on a team leader role should be flexible. Just because you’re in a senior role doesn’t mean you’re managing the entire call center: you might not have the all the answers.
That’s why a willingness to recognize your faults and make changes is so important. Management could make you aware of mistakes you’ve made through ongoing quality assurance, potentially surprising you.
It’s easy to forget you’re not the top of the food chain, but you have to take criticism, identify how to adapt and incorporate this into your way of working.
Provide regular coaching and training
When QA analysts perform quality assurance in your call center, they’ll identify flaws in working processes at all levels. Agents, team leaders and managers can all contribute to poor customer service before a QA program flags mistakes.
Team leaders need to provide coaching and training to service agents based on data gathered during the quality assurance process. Strong communication skills are critical here, to help you relate to team-members and ensure they understand how to improve.
You’ll have to track development and provide ongoing encouragement as agents grow.
Research shows that happy workers are between 12 and 20 percent more productive than less-enthused employees.
As team leader, you cannot underestimate the power of good morale. Listening to service agents’ complaints, addressing their needs and providing their feedback to management can all make your team feel more valued.
Take steps to improve their workplace experience however you can. Liaise with managers to suggest positive changes in working methods, such as flexible hours, casual clothing, contests and more. Reward schemes are a fantastic way to incentivize staff and boost engagement with their work.
Good leadership in a call center is everything. As we’ve discussed above, team leaders serve a vital purpose in customer-service environments, serving as a key link between the agents and management.
Team leaders have numerous responsibilities and duties when overseeing their staff, and the job definitely presents its fair share of challenges. However, building tight bonds with the agents under you, being an ally and following the tips covered in this post will all help to make a team leader role easier.
Are you a team leader in a call center? If so, what are the biggest problems and rewards you’ve found in the job? What advice would you give to anyone taking a team leader position in the future?