5 Survival Tips for Contact Centre Leaders
Leading a contact centre is a tough job. When you’re not dealing with unexpected call volumes and unexplained system outages, you’re doing your best to motivate and inspire a multitude of different personalities all while trying to hit a variety of targets.
Having worked with many different contact centres, I’ve learned a few things about what makes the best ones tick. If you are a contact centre leader, here are five tips to make your life easier:
- Pick your priorities: I have yet to see a perfect contact centre operation. Even the best centres have a list of things they would like to change, add or improve. There is always more work to do. That makes traditional time management courses useless. Instead, focus on priority management. What is your biggest priority? What would help you the most? Focus on those areas so you can utilise your time more effectively.
- Keep an open line of communication with your team: Think of the best leaders. They are great at keeping everyone moving towards the same goal. Use all of your communication tools to make that happen: “Town Hall” meetings, managers’ meetings, agent pre-shift huddles, white boards, Intranet postings, audio and video clips, etc. Create buy-in by focusing on things from your team’s perspective. What do they need to hear? How does it affect their job? What can you do to support them? How can you ensure remote agents also receive the same message?
- Do your homework: Remember that “readers are leaders.” Since you are reading this article, you already know the value of reading about the contact centre profession. You can also supplement that knowledge by reading about leadership styles, communication skills and reviewing the biographies of great leaders you admire. You can also consult trade publications for your industry. That will provide a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing your company. Finally, if you do not have time to read books or trade publications, an alternative is to listen to audiobooks in your car. You want to feed your mind with the knowledge you need to become a better leader.
- Find a mentor: What is even more valuable than book knowledge? Having an expert you can consult for advice. Someone who has already travelled down the path you are on. A mentor should be someone you can trust both in the quality of their advice and in the integrity of their intentions. Find someone who is more experienced than you who does NOT work for a competitor. They should be someone you have met on multiple occasions with whom you get along well. A mentorship is like any other relationship. You need to find the right person and work at the relationship. You might be able to also find a mentor within your own company. A current or former boss you admire is usually a good mentor candidate.
- Be good to yourself: I still remember my first year in a busy contact centre. It was 1990. We were so understaffed that service levels were terrible. There was so much stress that a lot of us survived on three things: caffeine, Tylenol for headaches and Tums antacid tablets for upset stomachs. Fast forward 25 years and most contact centre leaders still endure long hours and high stress. It is vital to take care of your health. Exercise, eat right and try to get more sleep. (I know that is easier said than done.) Just remember: YOU are your own best investment. It is hard to perform at your best when you are run down. Invest in your health so you have the energy to perform at a high level.
Help yourself cope with the challenges of being a contact centre leader by making use of these survival tips.
Mike Aoki is a popular conference speaker and seminar leader. His company, Reflective Keynotes Inc., focuses on helping organisations improve their contact centre sales, customer service and management skills.