Tips for managing call centre staff remotely
As any contact centre manager will tell you managing a team of agents and meeting numerous deadlines is not for the faint-hearted.
Since March 2020 this has become even more of a challenge thanks to Covid-19 with many agents having to work remotely.
Finding the right contact centre manager for your team
Business leaders know that finding a contact centre manager with a ‘can do’ attitude is critical to the customer service journey.
Being able to cope with a high-pressure environment, whether on the contact centre floor or having to spur on the troops remotely has never been more important.
Regularly talking to agents and maintaining two-way communications whether face-to-face, over the phone, via email or a messaging channel, is key to motivating individuals.
It has been found that taking the time to listen and engage with people improves productivity.
Indeed, a study by York University psychologist Faye Doell found those who “listen to understand” have better, happier relationships with others.
A supportive manager will know that giving co-workers and employees the space to communicate fully and openly, means that they’re more likely to become part of the team, suggesting new ideas and collaborating on projects.
Hopefully being a good listener means that your contact centre manager will create the right chemistry across the team, whether that’s managing 20 agents or over 1,000 agents.
An ability for resourcing campaigns properly will also help to further alleviate team stresses and a sound knowledge of the call centre technology supporting the work is important.
If you’re going to invest in the technology you want to ensure that every member of the team is able to utilise it to its full potential.
Leading by example and creating a stress-free environment while demonstrating their own abilities means that any capable contact centre manager will inspire those around him or her.
When you enthuse and support those around you, you create the added bonus’ of loyalty which in turn should help to reduce agent churn – something that’s a real challenge in the contact centre world.
According to Cornell University in the UK, the average cost to replace an agent is typically between $5,000- $7,000, with entry-level employees being the greatest number to leave (27%).
Furthermore, contact centre workers are absent for approximately 8.2 days a year, that’s higher than any other industry.
You have the power to not become a statistic and enhance the agent experience within your contact centre – remotely or otherwise.
What does great contact centre management entail?
- Hiring the right people and making sure that the onboarding process is as smooth and as informative as possible will go a great way in maintaining a happy and productive environment
- Embracing the data that you collate will inform you and help you to determine what works best for your customers and staff as well as identify any underperforming areas
- Rewards and initiatives tap into our basic human needs and incentivising great performance can help to keep agents motivated
- Taking a break has always been important in a call centre environment but is even more so now with people working remotely or in strained circumstances. Ensuring that employees get time away from screens and calls will help to keep all engagements in perspective.
Making the right management hires, providing the right training and supporting your agents with great technology will dramatically enhance your CX.
Ultimately, being able to drive efficiencies through stronger management practices and behaviours will pay dividends.
In a time where customers expect more, supporting your agents with the right infrastructure will not only deliver significant savings but also increase profitability.
7 Top tips for managing call centre staff remotely
To help with managing call centre staff remotely we’ve listed some top tips below:
1. Speak to your team every day either as a group or individually.
Make the conversations informal and not all work, work, work.
2. Be available – there’s a fine balance to being available and always being ‘on’.
Given the current climate manage your time and let people know when’s a good time to catch up if they need to talk, whether that’s about personal or work-related challenges.
Encourage them to do the same with their colleagues
3. Empower to harness trust – don’t micro-manage your team.
Outline responsibilities and make sure the entire team are aware of who is supposed to do what.
Agree with them what work needs to be carried out and set realistic deadlines.
Then trust people to get on with the task in hand and don’t chase them ahead of the deadline
4. The right tools for the job – make sure your remote team has the right set up when working remotely.
You may need to ask IT to carry out health checks on their devices and make sure they can use all the company software easily.
Arrange re-fresher training for any areas where the tools are causing frustration.
Knowledge Management Software can help ensure agents have all the right information.
5. Calendar cleanse – review meetings, or rather video calls, that have been scheduled as a team.
Discuss whether they’re required and who needs to actually attend and who can have their time freed up to press on with more important things
6. Introduce some process – “zoom fatigue” is becoming a very real issue for remote workers so do everything you can to streamline video calls, keeping the time spent short and productive.
Have an agenda for every meeting, take minutes and if you have to share a presentation, share it with people prior to the meeting (not 10 minutes before) so that they have time to review and can prepare any relevant feedback or questions.
This will shorten your meeting time and you will start to be more productive and less swamped by too much information and not enough time
7. Make it fun – No one envisaged their working lives changing so dramatically so quickly.
There will be periods of time where some members of your team feel upbeat while others are struggling, and vice versa.
Introduce a few fun ways where you can meet as a team but ask people what they would like to do.
Remember ‘enforced’ fun is no fun!