The Best Call Center Management Practices And Strategies

Published on April 27, 2023

With call center management, here are a few problems you are bound to run into:

  1. Using endless spreadsheets, 
  2. Complex and time-consuming manual scheduling, 
  3. Lack of measured data and insights, and 
  4. There are no tools to measure agent performance.

The solution lies in effective call center management when faced with these hurdles.

Call center management is the overseeing and execution of day-to-day operations within a call center. 

These operations include

  1. Hiring and training agents.
  2. Allocating workload.
  3. Improving customer service.
  4. Analyzing performance and making improvements.
  5. Using the right tools for better performance.

Call center management is about improved customer service and ensuring your agents are happy and have all the tools and resources they need to succeed.

With the combined power of customer service tools and skilled agents, call center management can help you:

Let’s explore how you can manage your call center effectively and the best practices for it. 

Best practices for call center management

Most call centers today have braced themselves for a long-term hybrid work environment. 67% of call center agents work remotely. This new change demands novel methods of call center management for optimized results and overall success.

Here are some best practices you can implement.

Set up a cohesive plan.

Before you begin, understand the areas you must tackle within your call center. These could include:

  • Employee management: Hiring employees, managing their workload, assigning contacts, etc.
  • Schedule management: Allocating resources and managing the schedules of employees is crucial to successful call center operations.
  • Setting up best practices: Describe the do’s and don’ts of the call center process and how agents should handle different calls. 
  • Agent training:  Train agents on best practices and new skills to continuously upgrade performance.
  • Call optimization: Planning the objectives of the calls, writing scripts, and making adjustments as the campaign progresses – all come under the purview of call optimization. 

You can learn which areas are a high priority for your organization by following these steps:

  • Setting goals and objectives: Understand the end goal your call center is trying to achieve – improve sales, work on customer service, or improve call efficiency. Mark key performance indicators (KPIs) to track these metrics objectively.
  • Analyze available data: Go through your currently available data and insights on ​​call volumes, call times, response times, and customer satisfaction rates to understand which areas are performing well and which areas need improvement.
  • Determine performance metrics: Agree upon metrics measuring progress and improvement, such as average handle time, customer satisfaction scores, etc.
  • Foster a positive work environment: Build a work environment that is both positive and fulfilling for agents. Constant motivation and progress are critical to a happy and well-performing team. 

Read Also: Automatic Call Distribution: The All You Need To Know Guide

Hire the right people

Agent turnover is a significant expense. It is often overlooked, but more often than not, it eats away at your call center’s profit. The average cost of replacing a call center agent is between $10,000 to $20,000.

According to studies, call centers see an average of 30-45% churn yearly! Refilling these positions causes a significant strain on the time and resources of a call center, considering hiring processes and training only to lose another one-third of your workforce by the end of the year. 

The right time to intervene and stop this from occurring at your call center is during hiring. Hire suitable candidates by following these steps:

  • Define the job requirements clearly: State your expectations and highlight the necessary skills, expertise, and knowledge a candidate must possess.
  • Attract a diverse pool of candidates: Use multiple platforms to reach the perfect candidate. Use social media, employee referrals, job boards, and advertisements to attract diverse talent. This helps you attract experience from different walks of life.
  • Schedule pre-employment assessments: Over 65% of employers use pre-employment tests. Assess a candidate’s skills by conducting personality tests, skill-based assessments, or assigning a small project.
  • Evaluate communication skills: Check for a candidate’s communication skills during the interview rounds. This is the most essential skill for a call center agent. 
  • Ask for references: Ask the candidate to provide references from their previous employers and verify their work experience and suitability for the job.
  • Pitch yourself as the right company: The best talent is attracted to a job environment that promises learning, growth, sustainable work culture, and monetary rewards. When conducting interviews, remember that you are being interviewed too.

Read Also: 3 Important Call Center Campaigns To Achieve Your Goals Today

Provide thorough onboarding.

The first few weeks of employee onboarding are crucial for two reasons:

  1. Agents gain critical skills for job success.
  2. It sets the tone for their conduct within the organization.

Therefore, put much effort and thought into designing your onboarding process. Here are a few steps you can follow to ensure you’ve covered all the bases:

  • Create an onboarding plan: Outline what you will protect during the onboarding process, including essential topics, goals, and schedule.
  • Choose a buddy: A buddy is someone more experienced within the team and can handhold the new employee through their transition into the company. A buddy can answer questions, provide support, and familiarize new hires with the company and its culture.
  • Provide job-specific training: After years of managing a call center, you will know the necessary skills for job success. Offer training to new hires on these critical call center agent skills to uplift their quality of work. 
  • Allow them to shadow employees: The best way to learn is to observe work in action. You can arrange for new hires to shadow employees and learn how they handle work within the organization.
  • Provide access to resources and tools: Ensure your new employees have everything they need to succeed. Whether it is login to all the tools your call center uses or resources that can guide their work. 

Prioritize agent engagement

Agent engagement is a crucial factor in call center management. Why? Because when an agent is engaged, they are driven to get results, reduce absenteeism, and decrease churn.

Here’s how to encourage employee engagement:

  1. Create a sense of community and camaraderie between team members. Ensure they know that while competition is welcome, the overall goal is to help the company grow.
  2. Reward high performers and highlight their accomplishments throughout the organization. 
  3. Map out a clear growth chart so that employees know what is in store for them next when they perform well. A good plan for the future helps decrease churn by incentivizing their stay.
  4. Help agents work on weaknesses or learn new skills and techniques. 
  5. Show employees the impact they have on their work. According to Harvard Business Review, 9 out of 10 people report that they will be happy to settle for less money if they engage in meaningful work. 

Ensure proper scheduling

The key to successful call center management is the proper scheduling of agents. A good schedule ensures that agents are well-rested and primed for the day. On the call center front, it ensures your agents are giving their best, and someone is always available to respond to customers. More importantly, proper scheduling ensures you have active agents proportionate to call traffic throughout the day and during high-traffic seasons (e.g., holidays or elections). 

Read Also: What are some of the Best Call Center Scheduling Software? Why do you need them?

Here are a few essential things to consider when creating a schedule:

  1. Call volumes and times: Observe when the call volume is the highest and when it is the lowest. That will estimate the peak timings at which you require a higher number of agents. 
  2. Use autodialers to help you estimate call traffic: Autodialers, such as the Predictive Dialer, use algorithms to understand call volume and agent availability for outbound calling campaigns. It predicts dial speeds considering agent availability to ensure no call goes unanswered. 
  3. Consider call routing options: Call routing uses intelligent algorithms to direct inbound calls to the best agent for any query. This ensures calls are handled swiftly and efficiently, improving call center performance.
  4. Schedule breaks strategically: Ensure your agents are well-rested and have adequate time off for breaks.

Read Also: What Is Call Routing: 9 Ways You Can Handle Call Traffic 

Use data while making call center management decisions

Data-driven decisions increase the chances of success. With call center management, key data points will direct you toward specific problems or strategies.

How do you leverage data for call center management?

  • Analyze data: Measure your performance based on the KPIs you determined at the start. There are over 20 common call center metrics for outbound calling only! Collect the appropriate data on these pre-determined metrics and look for common patterns. This first step will take you to root cause analysis.
  • Conduct root cause analysis: Understand the root cause of your call center’s issues to determine the best possible solution. Root cause analysis answers questions such as – “What is the REAL problem?”, “Why did it happen?” and “How can we prevent it?”.
  • Use real-time monitoring: Drop in on live calls to understand if agents follow guidelines and training. Live call monitoring ensures you maintain call quality.
  • Gather customer feedback: Customer satisfaction surveys are a good measure of your call center performance. They can easily tell you areas of improvement and the areas you perform well in. Ultimately, your customer is the most essential part of call center operations.

Invest in technology for call center management

Call center technology is your biggest ally in managing day-to-day tasks and overarching strategies for long-term goals.

Here’s why you should invest in call center technology:

  1. Improved efficiency: With auto-dialers helping you make more calls per hour, analytics giving you key performance insights, tools to ensure compliance and more, what is not to love about technology?
  2. Improve agent productivity: Call center technology improves agent productivity. Agents can access call center scripts, notes from previous calls, and real-time performance data to personalize conversations and get better engagement. 
  3. Data management: Most call centers report losing data between Excel sheets or multiple platforms. With call center software integrations with popular CRMs, you can never lose any of your data.
  4. Ensure compliance: Opening the law books each time you create a call center campaign is not fun. In a fast-paced environment such as a call center, saving time and staying compliant with laws and regulations is imperative. Good call center technology will help you with an account-level DNC list, complying with local call time regulations, avoiding spam labels, and more. 

What makes a good call center manager?

A leadership role is not an easy fit. A call center manager has key responsibilities, including meeting business goals and agent management.

Such a position requires a unique set of skills that sets them up for success.

A good call center manager is an excellent leader who can motivate agents to perform better, guide them through their problems, and ensure they stay motivated. At the same time, to be in charge of the results, a call center manager must have a blend of technical skills, good communication, and management techniques

Since the manager is responsible for introducing new technology to the team, they need to be in tune with the latest trends and developments in the call center industry. 

Read Also: Call Center Quality Assurance: Best Practices, Software, Etc

Here’s a quick checklist to decide on a good call center manager:

  1. Leadership: Can effectively lead a team of agents within the call center and inspire agents to do well.
  2. Technical skills: Sound knowledge of the latest technological developments and call center technology.
  3. Problem-solving: Can work under pressure and solve problems as they arise – and they occur daily in a call center.
  4. Adaptability: A good manager should be prepared to handle constant agent churn, high and low call volumes, and the changing goals of the organization. 
  5. Customer-centric: At the end of the day, your customers drive your business; a good call center manager would know that. 
  6. Data-driven mindset: To ensure the success of a call center, the manager should consider data about scheduling, performance metrics, and more when making decisions.

Call center management challenges and solutions

Along with knowing best practices, it is vital to understand the issues that plague a call center. We also explore the best possible solutions for the same.

Challenge: High agent turnover rates

High agent turnover is an industry-wide issue. One in three contact center managers reports that high agent turnover is their biggest challenge. The reasons for this include emotional disconnection from the job, lack of autonomy, burnout, lack of motivation, and lack of feedback.

Solution: To tackle this problem, you can provide agents with flexible working schedules, allowing them to choose when to work in the available time slots. Of course, you must emphasize how many agents are required per shift. You could also offer rotating shifts so no one is permanently stuck with the worst time slot. 

To improve motivation and connection, engage employees in training programs, chart a career growth map, and allow them to take initiatives to improve performance. Be transparent about your feedback so agents know where they can improve.

Challenge: Agent absenteeism

Industry standards estimate that absenteeism in a call center is 6% on any given day. This means that days with all hands on deck are rare. 

Illness, burnout, stress, personal issues, or work frustrations – any of them can be a reason for high agent absenteeism. However, this can be a nightmare for effective call center management if there are high volumes of calls and barely any agents to answer them.

Solution: To tackle agent absenteeism, first look at your leave policy and understand if it leaves agents with enough personal time. In addition to that, have a conversation with employees one-to-one to understand their challenges and how best you can tackle them. 

Challenge: Low customer satisfaction rates

95% of customers say customer service is a priority when doing business with an organization. Low customer satisfaction rates occur when customers spend a long time waiting for solutions, need to call to resolve issues repeatedly, and do not receive professional or polite treatment on the call. 

Solution: Opt for call routing to manage call volumes and ensure the right employee is connected for the best possible service. Essentially, match skill sets with tasks. An employee skilled in billing should refrain from talking to customers and enquiring about technical issues. You should also create options for self-service, such as an IVR menu, before customers can connect with a call center agent. Lastly, train agents on critical call center communication skills to handle customer calls. 

Challenge: Low agent productivity

Inefficient processes, lack of training, lack of key skills, and poor working conditions could contribute to low agent productivity.

Solution: Ensure your agents have access to all tools and are trained to use them when on calls. Look at the process and look for improvement opportunities based on agent feedback. Train agents on skills essential for their success in your call center.

Challenge: Not knowing the challenge

You know things are not working out, but you don’t know precisely what is causing this roadblock.

Solution: You need to look for crucial call center metrics that will indicate any fluctuations in performance. You can read our article Call Center Metrics To Measure Your Campaigns’ Performance to learn which key metrics you must watch. 

With these solutions, you are all set to be the best call center manager. 

A good call center software improves call center management

Call center management cannot be an individual, manual effort. A call center manager’s best friend on the job is good software. 

If you want to:

  1. Improve efficiency
  2. Stay compliant with regulations
  3. Improve agent performance
  4. Gain insights through analytics
  5. Manage call volumes
  6. Set efficient process…

…Then call center software is just what you need. Read our article, A Complete and Essential Call Center Software Buyer’s Guide, to know what to look for when buying a call center software.

Featured Image Source: Tima Miroshnichenko