What Is Call Center Management?
Call center management involves overseeing the daily operations of a call center (or contact center). Managers lead teams of supervisors and call center agents to maintain and increase customer satisfaction.
Managing a call center team also requires guiding and empowering employees to perform their roles. Call center operations include staff training, onboarding, scheduling, and forecasting for demand.
Call center directors can be overwhelmed by so much to juggle. However, businesses can streamline managing call center operations with modern technology tools. Software like that offered by Vonage can combine automation, reporting, and analytics to help coordinate your call center operations.
How Do Call Centers Work?
A call center provides a platform for managing inbound and outbound calls. They can be physical premises, virtual call centers, or a combination. Call centers also allow managers to handle administration and supervision of agent activity.
Customer service needs are handled by an inbound call center. First, the customer dials the call center. They’ll typically be greeted by an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menu or an auto attendant. These tools help direct callers to the right agent or even allow them to schedule a callback to avoid waiting in a call queue.
From here, a well-trained and product-knowledgeable agent will attempt to solve the customer’s problem. Most calls are likely to be addressed on the first try. More complex issues, however, may require a callback from the agent.
This is also a time when supervisors can step in to handle more complicated calls and guide customer service reps to a successful first-call resolution (FCR).
Eventually, the customer or agent ends the call — hopefully, after reaching a resolution! Next, the agent begins post-call work.
Post-call activities include updating the customer ticket or account information in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. Call notes will help streamline the resolution process the next time the customer contacts customer service.
If a call has not been resolved, an agent will reach out to the customer once a solution has been found. They will use the information in the CRM history to pick up from where the last call ended.
Key Call Center Roles and the Challenges They Face
Call centers run successfully when each individual works together as a team, with customer satisfaction in mind. Each role requires different skill sets and knowledge.
There are three main players involved in typical call center operations:
Call Center Manager
The call center manager is at the top of the hierarchy. This person is responsible for the continuity of daily call center operations. They’re also the ultimate decision-makers for call center strategy, implementing different types of phone systems and other top-level choices.
In larger businesses, several managers oversee different areas of the call center. Call centers in smaller businesses can be directed by a single manager. These managers work collaboratively with supervisors to ensure consistent call etiquette and agent performance.
Call center manager duties include:
Evaluating customer expectations and needs and adjusting operations accordingly
Delegating tasks and duties to supervisors and/or agents
Defining roles and responsibilities of other employees
Setting short-term and long-term goals for call center sales and/or customer service
Determining the most appropriate KPIs to measure call center performance and reach business objectives
Selecting call center platforms and customer service tools
Overseeing the training and development of supervisors and agents
Reviewing call center analytics and taking action from gleaned insights
Call Center Supervisor
Call center supervisors’ most important job is to maintain customer satisfaction.
To do this, they collaborate with managers to design and implement call center management strategies. They’re in constant contact with managers and agents. Supervisors ensure business directives are passed down.
Call center supervisors can train and onboard agents, in addition to monitoring calls and assisting representatives as needed. Agent feedback is funneled to the management team, and this information informs decision making, allowing managers and supervisors to fine-tune strategies as needed.
Call center supervisor duties include:
Employee onboarding, training, and development — including providing guidance with any Learning Management System (LMS) tools
Call monitoring and live coaching of agents
Scheduling and call center rota management
Notifying management of outdated practices or areas that need a fresh strategic approach
Auditing agent performance by way of call recordings and call transcriptions
Identifying the most pressing issues and trends for customer calls and what’s lacking in present operations
Writing summaries and reports to review with management
Call Center Agent
Call center agents are your frontline personnel for outbound sales calls and inbound customer support calls. They provide a friendly, informative, and helpful voice for your business. As product experts, they can address objections and solve problems timely and efficiently.
Call center representatives are on the ground, following guidelines and protocols established by their superiors. Agents can also give feedback on call center strategies and tactics. By way of team leaders and/or supervisors, this valuable information is fed back to management to influence future decision-making.
Call center agent duties include:
Providing live technical and sales support for prospects and customers
Placing outbound calls and/or receiving inbound calls
Taking orders and processing payments over the phone
Issuing refunds and sending confirmation emails
Updating customer account information and transaction history
Escalating tickets or transferring calls when necessary according to escalation workflows
Confirming customer information and scheduling appointments or follow-up calls
Taking post-call notes and using a ticketing system or CRM platform
Call Center Management Best Practices
Call centers and contact centers are as diverse as the businesses they represent. They can be outbound, inbound, or both. They can be a single on-premises location for a small business or a global network of virtual call centers.
Regardless of the makeup of your operations, the best practices remain broadly the same. Here are some call center management tips that will help you streamline call center operations and increase customer satisfaction:
Hire the Right People
Each position in a call center requires different hard and soft skills. They may also require varying levels of experience. Work with HR to align your recruiting efforts with each job role. Draw up criteria and resumé-screening protocols that emphasize the most relevant skills for each job.
For example, call center agents should be enthusiastic about sales or customer service.
Some soft skills for anyone working in customer service include:
Emotional intelligence and empathy
Positive life outlook and optimistic attitude
Active listening skills
Persuasion and sales skills
You also want to recruit supervisors and managers who possess leadership skills like problem-solving and decision-making.
Assign Roles and Responsibilities
A crucial part of good management is being able to delegate effectively. This optimizes call center operations by empowering individuals to get the most out of their talents.
Examples of areas to delegate could be anything from onboarding materials to assessing customer expectations. One supervisor may be in charge of analyzing call logs and creating coaching playlists, while another oversees customer satisfaction.
The key is to align talents and abilities with each responsibility. With a well-planned hierarchy and call center workflows, daily call center management should become routine.
Optimize Workforce Management
Managers and supervisors are responsible for staffing and rota schedule planning. Many call centers aim to provide 24/7, 365 customer service, but high turnover makes schedule planning difficult.
Getting agent shift patterns and staffing levels right can feel overwhelming. You want to meet customer expectations and keep wait times low, but also not overtax your team.
It’s tempting to spread yourself too thin during peak demand. This quick fix can have devastating consequences. It can lead to agents and supervisors being overworked, spiraling into full-on burnout. And, as a secondary result, customers will receive poorer service.
Overstretched employees are less productive, less friendly, and lower the overall performance of your call center. Exhausted employees aren’t happy. They’re likely to join the throngs of call center employees that leave for greener pastures.
You want to balance workflow to meet demand. Shifts should be staffed based on skill and expertise. You also want to give your employees adequate time for rest and relaxation.
Communications solutions like those provided by Vonage integrate with workforce management (WFM) solutions like Verint® and injixo. That makes it much easier to optimize staff scheduling for seasonal and peak demand and meet other unforeseen challenges.
Maintain Two-Way Communication
Communication skills are a no-brainer for your call center agents. A healthy call center doesn’t only depend on interactions with customers. It’s also built on teamwork and collaboration between all employees.
Regular communication between management and employees drives trust and transparency. It also lets you lead by example.
Put an open-door policy in place — or virtual equivalent for your remote workers — so that all employees know communication runs both ways and not just top-down. An anonymous suggestion box — real or virtual — allows employees to safely share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
Implementing a cloud call center solution that also works as a unified communications system is another good idea. This will allow your team to communicate via team messaging, email, video, or phone calls, all on the same platform they use for customer calls.
Having a variety of communication channels empowers your team to seek assistance and make queries in the most convenient way possible (just like your customers).
Provide Comprehensive Onboarding
Onboarding is the avenue that sets up every new hire for success. It’s the time to ensure employees have the necessary knowledge and skills for their roles. It’s also an opportunity to train them on call center tools and other resources.
Today, many call centers are virtual and cloud-based. This means digital onboarding materials are critical for remote employees, as there are fewer opportunities for traditional in-person guidance.
You want a consistent experience for onsite, hybrid, and remote employees. That all starts with a comprehensive onboarding process. You may wish to implement a learning management system. This can give you a central space to create and manage all onboarding documents and lessons.
Solutions like Vonage Business Communications and Vonage Contact Center, meanwhile, can offer call recording capabilities, which are also extremely useful for training and onboarding purposes.
Supervisors can use recordings of real calls to give new hires a true taste of scenarios they’re likely to encounter.
Other useful onboarding ideas include:
Buddy system — Pair new employees with a mentor, which can be done virtually with a unified communications system.
Role-playing — Supervisors sit in on fabricated calls, acting as the customer.
Shadowing — Observe customer service or sales calls.
Performance expectations — Go over relevant KPIs and the tasks and duties associated with the role.
Webinars — You can onboard many employees simultaneously or save videos that can be viewed on-demand.
- Periodic reviews — Gather feedback and evaluate team members at the end of the onboarding process.
Gather Customer Feedback
At the end of the day, the customer is always right. Gaining customer feedback drives quality assurance and process improvement. Use feedback forms and customer surveys for every call or call center ticket.
Also, be sure to have a social media presence where you can monitor customer service mentions and reply to comments. Other good sources of customer feedback include consumer review websites.
Modern consumers have different communications preferences depending on demographics and other factors. If you provide more than one channel on which they can reach you, and ensure they’re well integrated, you’re doing a better job of meeting comnsumers where they are.
Platforms like Vonage Contact Center empower your team to meet your customers on their preferred channels with native web chat, SMS, video chat, live agent, and social channels.
From one digital workspace, your agents can give consistent customer service.
Integrate With a CRM
Customer relationship management is vital to both sales and customer support. Your agents are adept at multitasking, but that doesn’t mean you need to overcomplicate workflows.
Implement call center software that integrates with your CRM or ticketing solution. Vonage solutions, for instance, integrate with popular CRMs like Salesforce to streamline call resolution and post-call work.
Additionally, with Vonage Contact Center, you can integrate Salesforce with an intelligent IVR system to provide more dynamic, automated self-service.
Monitor the Right Call Center Metrics
Managers and supervisors need a way to check the pulse of daily call center performance. The easiest way to monitor a call center is to track the right data.
The following call center metrics are critical to maintaining and optimizing call center performance:
First Call Resolution (FCR)
This metric measures the percentage of calls that are resolved on the first contact. Ideally, this would be 100%. Of course, in reality, that’s nearly impossible.
FCR is calculated by taking the number of calls entirely resolved on the first attempt and dividing it by the total number of calls. Anything above 70% is considered ideal, but there’s always room for improvement.
Besides customer satisfaction, FCR also reflects how efficient your agents and self-service resources are.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Rate
CSAT is the ultimate indicator of call center performance. If most customers leave call center interactions unhappy, then the business is in big trouble.
CSAT feedback is typically gathered from a survey on the phone, via email, or online. After an interaction is completed, customers are asked to rate their satisfaction. CSAT is usually rated from one to five. Anything below a four is considered a non-positive experience.
CSAT rate is calculated by adding up the number of four and five responses and dividing by the total number of respondents. Desirable CSAT scores vary by industry but are somewhere between 75-85%.
Average Handle Time
The average handle time (AHT) metric gives your call center managers a snapshot of the average time each caller spends getting an issue resolved.
Here's how AHT is calculated: total talk time + total hold time + follow-up time divided by the total number of calls.
Call Abandonment Rate
This metric indicates the percentage of calls terminated before an agent or virtual assistant gets involved. These are customers who simply give up due to long wait times.
Call abandonment is the number of abandoned calls divided by the total number of inbound calls.
High call abandonment likely indicates you need better call center workforce planning.
Analyze the Data, Make Informed Decisions
Contact center managers need easy access to call metrics like AHT and CSAT. It’s better to have real-time information rather than periodic numbers.
The best call center software gives your managers and supervisors customized reporting and dashboards that focus on the most-relevant metrics
Access to real-time data and predictive forecasting helps managers make better decisions. For example, long AHTs during evenings and weekends can direct supervisors to alter shift patterns and cover for demand.
Actively Engage Employees
Happier employees are more engaged and productive. Higher agent morale and performance mean happier customers. If you can keep your employees engaged, everybody wins.
So, how do you promote engagement?
One tactic is to incentivize employee performance with bonuses tied to KPIs. Managers can create goals that fit business needs and add monetary rewards for individual and team performance. Also, consider things like group outings or parties as call center-wide incentives.
Some types of employees don’t necessarily need to be motivated by money, but instead by friendly competition. Whether customer support metrics or sales quotas, you can use an array of tools to add gamification to your call center operations.
Promote Remote Work
A recent study found that working remotely can increase employee happiness by as much as 20%. Cloud-based solutions like those provided by Vonage empower your team to work remotely or on a hybrid basis.
Train and Give Feedback
Customers aren’t the only source of feedback necessary for effective call center management. Internal feedback is a must to drive improvement and optimization of call center operations.
Managers should schedule regular meetings with supervisors to keep them updated on what’s happening on the front lines. Supervisors should have informal meetings to touch base with every team member, and schedule formal 1-to-1s periodically.
Upper management should take any criticism or suggestions from employees into consideration. It’s your agents that interact with customers daily, and many times, they will know what’s working and what isn’t.
The Right Software Solution Can Help You Ace Call Center Management
Communications software like VBC and Vonage Contact Center make call center management easier. Managers can have ready access to a wealth of information and make better decisions. Supervisors can monitor and live-coach agents for better call resolution.
Agents themselves are empowered to focus more on their customers. Plus, unified communications platforms allow you to manage all business communications from one digital space.
Find a call center management solution that works for your business today, and start reaping rewards like higher CSAT scores.
FAQs About Call Center Management
A call center manager oversees and delegates the daily operations of a call center. This includes staff scheduling, training, technology implementation, and maintaining customer satisfaction.
Managers also handle performance monitoring for teams, individuals, and the entire center. They have the responsibility to make operational decisions. They must improve and optimize call center performance and meet customer expectations.
Call centers have many challenges. One of the primary issues for managers is high employee turnover. Many people struggle to meet the daily demands of dealing with customers, many of whom are upset and frustrated.
Another issue is managing a workforce of on-premises and remote employees. Without the right tools, virtual call agents get the short end of the stick.
Other challenges to call center management include identifying and meeting customer expectations, data privacy, and effectively offering omnichannel support.
Call center software can provide a central platform for managers, supervisors, and agents to perform all of their job functions. Team members can collaborate on tickets via CRM integrations, escalate calls as needed, and more.
Supervisors can record and monitor calls for quality assurance and training purposes. Call center managers, meanwhile, can view customized dashboards that track important metrics in real time.
Want to know more about how call center management can help managers, supervisors, and agents perform at their highest level? We’re here for you! Call us at 1-844-365-9460, or fill out this form! A dedicated specialist will show you how the right solution:
- Can boost first-call resolution and customer satisfaction scores
- Integrates with your CRM or ticketing solution to streamline workflows
- Helps you gather customer feedback that will reveal what you're doing right — and where you can improve
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