Leading a team of people can be a little like herding cats.
Let’s say you view your Contact Centre metrics and see performance and results aren’t meeting KPIs, and differ radically from person to person.
You dig a little deeper and discover a few things which may be hindering some people, or everyone, and you decide to make some changes. You announce these at the next team meeting, and review the metrics again a little while later.
But nothing has changed.
You emit a silent scream, look upwards and wonder, “What is the issue? Why don’t they just do what I’ve told them to?”
It’s time to find out the real reasons why.
Good Leaders Listen
When employees are continuously told what to do, their motivation levels suffer. They can become resentful, disengaged and even disruptive.
In a contact centre, your agents are the ones who are closest to customers, and they have highly valuable knowledge to offer, so it’s worthwhile creating an environment where they’re regularly, actively encouraged to share it.
- a ticketing or email feedback system where agents can provide feedback instantly before moving onto their next call
- a weekly team meeting where feedback is shared and everyone has the opportunity to offer their opinions, experiences, and suggestions
- providing examples to stimulate participation, so team members feel comfortable about opening up about their own frustrations with processes, policies, customers, scripts, technology and other issues.
Good Leaders Take Action
Now, there’s no point encouraging feedback if nothing is done about it, or it takes a long time for anything to happen. This will only discourage people from providing feedback. They’ll think –“What’s the point, nothing’s going to change”.
To engender a proactive, sharing and motivating environment:
- provide an answer to every single issue raised or suggestion made, within a few days
- give valid reasons why, for the suggestions which won’t be approved
- provide a timeframe for the implementation of approved suggestions or fixing of issues
- provide regular updates for changes that are taking longer, so people know that progress is being made
- give recognition to the person(s) who raised the issue or made the improvement suggestion, and get them actively involved in the process of making the changes so they have ownership of it and become champions of the change.
Good Leaders Empower
Nurturing a culture of empowerment will demonstrate your trust in your agents, foster ownership of their role, and makes them feel a valued part of the whole team.
Empowerment can include things like:
- Getting everyone involved in discussions and decisions around the office – like drink/food choices in the vending machines, dress codes for Fridays, celebrating birthdays, etc.
- Allowing agents to offer an upgrade or voucher to a customer who has had a bad experience with your product or service level and the agent determines that the business was at fault, not the customer. This is usually capped at a specific monetary level.
- Making sure they have the respect and attention of all departments. Can they comfortably call the technical department or the despatch department when they need help resolving a customer issue?
- Using a workforce optimisation solution to make it easy for them to request or swap shift times and days off.
Good Leaders Command Respect
Being a good leader is a balancing act between being approachable and helpful, and being firm and decisive.
At one end of this scale are the lenient micromanagers, who allow themselves to get involved in petty gripes and squabbles, that should have been resolved by the people involved.
At the other are the autocratic dictators who don’t involve or consider others in their decisions.
In the long run, neither of these extreme leader types will have the respect and support of their teams.
Good Leaders are People Managers
Good contact centre leaders are effective at the following:
- Engendering a positive culture by publicly praising team members who deserve it, every day. And it’s never just the same few who get the attention. They ask around, they listen to conversations, and they ferret out examples of those that have done something well or mastered something new, and they show their genuine appreciation for their effort.
- Providing corrective feedback when it’s required. If they don’t nip bad habits or poor performance in the bud early, other team members will think that this sub-standard behaviour is okay, because the leader doesn’t seem to care. It could result in people gossiping more, taking longer breaks and/or spending time on personal calls or social media sites. This poisonous type of culture undermines motivation and erodes productivity, which in turn affects the level of service provided to customers, and achievement of organisational KPIs.
- Recognising the personality types and traits of every single person in their team. Some will be the empathetic caring types who love helping people, others will be task-oriented and motivated by achievement; and the third type are those who are sticklers for fairness and process. A good leader will understand the value that each type brings to the organisation and be flexible in meeting the needs of the individual. Failing to value people in the way they expect can lead to higher levels of staff turnover.
Good Leaders Never Stop Learning
Great leaders know innately that they will never, ever know enough. They have an insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge.
- They invest time in personal development to improve their knowledge and skills
- They mine and analyse information so they are armed with the facts, before making decisions
- They seek inspiration and guidance from people they admire
- They enlist the aid of experts to help them improve and achieve
Good leaders are integral to the successful management of contact centre teams, and the ongoing achievement of outstanding customer experiences.