Sunday, October 9, 2011

7 Habits of Highly Effective Call Center People

The call center industry is largely a tough place to survive in. Most find it hard to adjust with schedules, regulations and general demands of working in an organization where efficiency is vital and team work is essential to reach target goals.

In one interview I attended a few years ago, I was struck by a statement by the interviewing director which really summed up what a call center is. He said the industry is simply a "business of effective communications". It really made sense. We are in the business of talking, encouragement and team work. These are the 3 factors where my 7 Habits of Highly Effective Call Center People revolve around.

These 7 points I'm about to deliver below are not only applicable to a certain group of individuals within a call center organization but it encompasses everyone in order to be a cohesive unit that delivers results.

I. Comes to work everyday - As simple as it is, it is also the hardest thing to adhere to. Working in a call center, all people experience some form of stress and in varying degrees. It may sound funny to some people, but adhering to schedules yields a lot more positives than some people realize. Coming to work and being there for your co-workers and managers lightens the load of everybody concerned. It also gives everybody a chance to interact with one another, help and motivate each other. In the long run, this habit can boost camaraderie and teamwork while realizing that anybody can count on everybody to be there for support.

II. Enhances morale - Working as a team in a call center setting is like attending a support group. Ideally, Managers help everybody down to the agents, supervisors help managers and agents in one way or another, agents help managers, supervisors and each other in a complete circle where accessibility should be a direct line. Simple realization of this ideal situation should already be a morale-boost by itself. Actively enhancing confidence is an attribute not inherent to everybody. They say leadership by example is the way so this means in order to foster a supportive environment, leaders must show the way. Care for your employees translates to better service for your customers in return.

III. Resolves issues completely - Handling a leadership role in a call center setting occasionally involves pacifying noise. Noise is any internal or external factor that acts as a disruptive element affecting agent-customer interactions. As important as you regard each and every customer interaction to be concluded in a satisfactory manner, leaders also need to make sure they eliminate noise or at least keep it to a minimum level as much as possible while committing to resolve any pending issues in a timely manner. Satisfied employees translate to satisfied customers. It’s as simple as that.

IV. Always updated - The call center operations floor is an environment of ceaseless change. Most changes in policy and procedures come from the leaders and cascade to rank and file. Ensuring each and every soul is on the same page and checked for understanding eliminates the possibility of confusion that can possibly escalate to a bigger problem. To be an effective person on the ops floor means each and everybody will have to play an active role in making sure everyone is kept abreast with changes.

V. Sets goals and aspires - a major responsibility of a call center leader is to guide employees towards a clear and defined path towards a more meaningful and personally fulfilling endeavor. People that manage people need to aspire for a better future for their team members. In the same light, employees also set goals for themselves and aspire to be better in their chosen careers. Constant coaching, well-documented progress reports and personal awareness helps ensure everybody is in the right direction. Being aware that you have a goal and somebody is helping you reach it is one way to get the best obtainable performance from everybody.

VI. Participates, Cooperates and Suggests - all three are bunched in one concept because they fall under one key factor which is effective communications. Suggestions, participation and cooperation to resolve an issue are 3 things that are not only seen within team interactions but should also be seen within an agent-customer interaction. Encouraging creativity to solve problems within a working environment also fosters your front liners to be resourceful in their approach to solve customer issues. Many companies have gained more customers and retain existing ones because people who solve their customers' concerns have been innovative in their approach.

VII. Recognizes - getting recognition should always be part of any working environment. Sadly, this is not the reality we see in every office. You may find a group of people feeling left out and unappreciated. Though most would agree that credit should always be directed where it is due, failing to at least acknowledge a few, no matter how small their contribution is, breeds an attitude of indifference towards your goals and worse to customers. People are motivated in different ways. However, failing to recognize contributions can unravel a team working towards a goal. Small and/or occasional pats on the back wouldn't hurt. Celebrating small successes is a call center best practice that plays a major role in getting the best performance from everybody.

You may have noticed that the points I mentioned above all seem like they have one thing in common. In fact, you are correct. They all seem to have one common thing or share a common goal. This is precisely an analogy I want to include in this article. Like these 7 habits of highly effective call center people, everyone within a call center organization shares a common goal, should have the same things in mind and improves each other for better understanding. In a call center office, people interact with customers only as good as they interact with each other.

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