Managing people is an art that is studied for a lifetime. And a contact center is even more complex than people: a management area at the intersection of mathematics (waiting queues and WFM), IT and psychology (from sales to employee retention). The good news is that a contact center manager can formulate a set of simple principles that the author and his colleagues discovered, stepping on their own rakes. The list, of course, contains the necessary, but not sufficient. We have collected the main things. Based on real events.
- The best friends of a contact center manager are the head of the HR department, the chief accountant, and the head of the secretariat. HR knows where the people are, the accountant knows where the money is, the secretary knows everything about everyone. Form a strong alliance with them.
- Be fundamentally competent in the technical aspects of managing a contact center. Understand the characteristics of the software-hardware complex: its maximum capacity, the communication channels and amount it utilizes, which codecs and protocols are used for data transmission, the uniqueness of specific implementations of the Preview/Progressive/Predictive modes and the MIA/LOA algorithms, etc. At the very least, this knowledge will let you shine in meetings; at most, it will prevent you from losing half of the incoming traffic due to A-blocks.
- In the best sense, don’t trust programmers. These guys are capable of doing a lot for the company or contact center, but they have a heap of tasks and they can make mistakes in a mundane way (plus they don’t know the KPI calculation formulas for the CC). Verify every new report right down to matching the length of the call recording and Talk+Hold. Time the post-call with a stopwatch. Reconcile call details with the provider’s billings. Thoroughly accept the IT department’s work.
- Never rely on consolidated reports without the ability to verify their detailed data. Software developers are not only talented people, but they also save their time: some data in the summarized report can be displayed not from the actual situation, but from some unknown temporal storage that an unoptimized SQL query slowly processes. Always cross-verify your summarized data with the detailed ones before including them in the report for your boss.
- Never allow rounding in reports, even if it’s demanded by an internal or external client. There should be two columns: one with rounded numbers and one without for verification purposes. Incorrect rounding is one of the most common mistakes in contact center reporting. If a column is obtrusive, you can hide it using Excel. But always keep the unrounded figures in the report.
- If you are preparing a report, commercial proposal, or explanatory note, remember: a leader writes them for someone to read and understand. Therefore, spare your partner’s mind, do not puzzle them. UTZ by COPC and UTZ by ISO18295, as well as ACW (Average Contact Waiting) and ACW (After Contact Work) – are not the same, although abbreviations are identical. Explain anything ambiguous or unclear, add units of measure in column headings. A good report or presentation does not require clarifying questions regarding the content, only about the conclusions.
- Prepare managerial documents for your department by yourself, don’t download a ready-made one, don’t ask colleagues to share. First, there’s a 90% chance you’ll copy someone else’s mistake. Second, if you detail the responsibilities of the supervisor, you’ll get more than 50 (fifty). Where will you find such a detailed job description sample? Meanwhile, the job description is the basis to hold a person accountable for their work. So don’t be lazy.
- The first signs of disloyalty or burnout in agents start with “A”: “but I wasn’t told”, “but I didn’t know”, “but it wasn’t my shift”, “but here she is…”, “but why should I”, “but my working day is over” and similar. Unfortunately, when these symptoms appear, the agent is most likely already looking for another job. The contact center manager should help them leave quickly and dignely.
- Gossip and rumors in female collectives – a common occurrence. Fighting it is almost futile, but do not tolerate gossip in your presence and don’t indulge in it yourself. False or unconfirmed information only leads to false decisions. If you act based on lies, then you are deceiving yourself.
- Your skepticism is the core of your peaceful rest. After all, you could be dragged out of a nightclub at three in the morning on New Year’s Eve and taken to the office to fix a problem. Don’t trust reports that everything is fine, demand demonstrable evidence. Don’t believe developers when they say there are no errors – there certainly will be some. Don’t trust that the shift schedule has been correctly composed – conduct a drill on a Saturday morning, watch how a supervisor covers the shortage of at least three agents due to a deliberately created planning error. Don’t trust the person responsible for safety equipment – let at least one young lady, who has signed in the log, demonstrate the use of a charged fire extinguisher. If your subordinates are on a different site – don’t be lazy, make a point to visit and talk. Identifying a production conflict via video conference isn’t always possible, but in a face-to-face conversation – it’s easy.
- If you see a production conflict within the team – nip it in the bud immediately using any available methods, up to the conflict commission and dismissal of one of the participants. Choose the softest way to solve the problem, but remember, simply “talking” and “putting participants in their corners” usually don’t work.
- Being a role model for your subordinates is correct, but cliché. So, always show them something new. Learned a new sales technique – test it and let your people listen to the recording. Read about a foreign contact center – make a written translation or report for your guys.
- In times of uncertainty, trust your intuition. However, remember that uncertainty is associated with fear, and fear induces twitchiness. Don’t make critically important decisions until you understand that the situation has become critical. If the lights go out in the office of a large contact center, and your management and city light services are not answering calls, wait for about 40 minutes. Usually, if it’s not fixed by that time, you can gradually start letting the agents go, but with the condition to stay connected. If the contact center is small, for instance, with 15 seats, you can wait a little longer, the wage losses will not be critical.
- Avoid drinking with subordinates, no matter how much you want to “get a closer look at them”. At corporate events, it’s appropriate for employees of the same rank to interact with each other, but not with those below them. Greet your people and proceed to your fellow managers.
- Remember, the saying “people join a company but leave a manager” is only half of the proverb. The second half goes like this: “they hire the beautiful, and fire the intelligent”. So every time you need to sign at the bottom of a dismissal notice, take a minute to think. And yes, try to dismiss by Article 77, clause 1 (mutual agreement), not by Article 77, clause 3 (personal desire). In case of a dispute when dismissing under Article 77, clause 1, the court will side with the employer.
What do you reckon, did we miss any significant points for a contact center manager? Did this list assist you?
Reporting in Oki-Toki
Reports are crucial in any call centre setting. They allow to oversee the campaign’s performance, evaluate KPIs, recap the day, and anticipate the outlook for the end of the month. Reports in Oki-Toki can be fetched in CSV and EXCEL formats, exported via API, their settings saved, and for supervisors, all reports are accompanied with tooltips and cross references to other reports. More on reports and their types are available in our blog.
To view our manager tools in OKI-TOKI, click here.