Anyone who’s ever worked in contact center management understands that the job is not for the faint of heart.
The necessity of dealing with numerous daily problems is inherent in the business process outsourcing (BPO) environment, which deals with multiple stakeholders all at once. And the balancing act of satisfying customers and clients, as well as helping large teams of staff to complete highly measurable tasks, can leave everyone feeling stressed and pressured.
So how can floor managers and team leaders minimize the stress to run a high-performance operation?
Creating a leadership culture in which not only the managers, but all levels of staff, agree to abide by the principles of ownership, communication, planning, action, and partnership are key. And it is the responsibility of the management team to lead by example.
ACCOUNTABLE OWNERSHIP AND BEYOND
- If there is an action item to which your name is attached, own it, even if you are not the person required to deliver. If it is your item to support, follow-up on and action it all the way to completion unless leadership directs you otherwise.
- When dealing with people, always ask “What can I do for you?” Remember always: a leader also serves!
- Communicate clearly and when providing an instruction or making a request, explain why. Pick up the phone when necessary, but in addition to saying it, write it down. Everyone may perceive conversations differently, so it is important to put pen to paper and summarize conversations, regardless of whether it is professionally or personally impacting. This gives you a mechanism by which you can be held accountable and by which you can hold people accountable. Most importantly, it allows for clarification of understanding.
- When writing, use “we” instead of “I” or “you.” It goes a long way toward removing defensiveness and potential feelings of blame from the person(s) you are speaking to.
- It is important to set goals, and, when you do so, try to identify cycles so that you can prepare in advance and deliver before being asked.
- When it comes to contact center management, you have to know your audience and anticipate a reaction or response. Be proactive.
- Always assume a solutions-focused approach. If your answer to a request is “no”, follow it with a “but we can do xyz instead”. Sometimes Plan B is better than the original option. Sometimes taking action means taking risks, and sometimes taking risks leads to mistakes. However, inaction can be just as risky. Present business development opportunities, and make suggestions. Worst case, the answer will be a “no”. In that event, nothing is lost, but all is gained because you tried. Passion is great, efforts are nice, but results speak clearly.
- When urgency is required, act, but do not lose sight of the end goal. Remember there is no urgency in chaos, only confusion. Try not to react during stressful situations to ensure there is clarity and relevance in what you are doing. Consider the big picture and understand that your decisions always have an impact somewhere else. Conduct a root cause analysis on issues to gain a fuller understanding of your business and why it has changed or hasn’t changed.
PARTNERSHIPS ARE THE KEY TO SUCCESS
- Always remember that people are everything we have. They are our customers, our agents, our clients, our future leaders, and our successors. Do what you can to balance the right things for the business with the best interests of the people you serve and employ. Not everyone will be happy all the time but listen carefully to their voices, be it through CSAT results, ESAT surveys, focus groups, exit interviews, or call recordings, etc.
- Then: Listen, Act, Benchmark, Measure, Recommend, Change, Repeat!
From my own experience with contact center management, I have found that following these 10 simple rules results in smoother, less stressful operations on the contact center floor, have inevitably led to better business results.