Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top 8 Myths of New Call Center Leaders

Is your center a place where the “Blind Are Leading the Blind”?

A common practice for call centers is to spend all their training dollars on their agent new hire training, while very little money is spend on call center leaders.  In an industry that is all about people, this can be a big mistake.  While it is true that agents require extensive training in order to properly and efficiently represent the company, these agents need good leaders to ensure they have the support and help they need to continuously do their jobs well.

Most call center leaders (80% or higher) come from the agent population.  They have proven themselves to be very proficient and effective individual performers, however, this job know-how and ability does not automatically translate into effective leadership, coaching, communication, reporting, and business acumen skills.  As a matter of fact, most people moving into their first leadership roles have large misunderstandings about what being a leader means.

8.  “Now I’m a leader, I don’t have to take customer calls anymore.”  Well – you may not be the one initially saying hello, but you will take all the escalated calls…and the less tenured your agents are, the more escalated calls you’ll take.

7.  “I don’t have to worry about my stats anymore.”  Sort-of – you don’t have to worry about your individual stats, but you are now responsible for a full team of performers, and their stats now become your stats.

6.  “I don’t have to worry about attendance and schedule adherence anymore.”  Actually – as with your stats, your team’s attendance and adherence become your problem to fix AND your team will notice and follow your example.  If you are late, they will be late!

5.  “Now I have the job, everyone has to do what I say.”  Just having the job doesn’t mean that people will respect your or follow you.  This is something that each leader has to earn across time and through positive interactions with their team.

4. “Now that I’m a leader, I can lighten up on the rules for my team.”  Unless you are a one team center, this isn’t the case.  Each center has rules in place that everyone needs to adhere to and follow, and as the leader, it is your job to reinforce the rules.  And if you do make unjust exceptions, you’ll be seen as playing favorites – which does not help with building respect.

3. “I can be open and share my feelings.”  Sometimes.  Remember, when things change or if you have to press your agents to do something new or different, or push their performance, there will be grumbling amongst the ranks.  They will look to you their leader to see how you are responding.  If you appear negative they will too and their poor performance will persist.  If you are positive and enthusiastic, they will at least give it a valid try, and if you stay positive and reinforce their behavior, you will see positive results.  And as a leader, leading your team through changes and tough things is your job.  Leaders only succeed if their people succeed!

2.  “I’ll now be working “normal” hours (8am to 5pm / M-F).”    Leaders keep working until their job is done – this means most leaders work much more than 40 hours a week.  And to ensure that they can coach or meet with all their people, they often have to stay late or come in on weekends to do so.   

1.  “My number one job is to take care of my agents.”   While it is true that this is half of a call center leader’s job, it has to be balanced out with taking care of the business unit they work within.  No one (including the leader) would have a job if the agents were focused and consistently doing the job they’ve been hired to do.  So it is critical that the leader is thinking about their company and balancing that out against the needs of their agents at all times.

If your leaders need training to help them better understand your business, the call center division, and how to be an effective leader, we can help!