If you want to manage a call center effectively, keep in mind one important truth about the call center industry: There will always be a consistent amount of employee turnaround. This unique aspect of call centers creates two primary needs that, as a manager, you must prepare for. You need a well crafted and organized training system, and you need to continually lay ground work for the next time you need to start hiring. Staying on top of these two objectives will make a world of difference in the efficacy of your team.
As employees phase in and out of a company’s call center you do not want knowledge to disappear with individuals when they go. To stay on top of good customer service, you need simple and efficient processes, and you need to provide continual training on those processes, and on the company’s products and systems. Cover all your bases by giving your agents three educational building blocks: initial training, a point of reference for them to use as needed, and regular ongoing training meetings.
A thorough initial training should provide the call center agent with solid foundational knowledge about the company’s products and processes, and an introduction to the software system they will use to document customer interactions. However, you should never expect your employees to remember every detail taught in an initial training.
To compensate for those missed or forgotten details, provide a point of reference where the employee can review the information taught in the training. This point of reference can be a paper manual, but most companies have long since turned away from print, favoring instead online manuals, which provide the benefit of ease in revising content as the landscape of protocol, systems, and products evolve. Developing an online point of reference ensures that those employees who use the reference material always have accurate information on both processes and product. However, not all employees will self-teach by using the reference material you provide, and they therefore won’t all receive the updated information through the point of reference alone.
To make sure that your whole team stays up to date, and gets a regular refresher on details they may have forgotten, schedule weekly or biweekly training meetings. During these meetings, refresh employees on product and process knowledge, and give them any updates that are pertinent to their job functions. These training meetings will assist in keeping everyone up to date on information they need to successfully perform their job duties and provide good customer service. Take full advantage of these meetings, using them not just for training but for other items of business. Give your employees the opportunity to openly discuss situations they have encountered with customers or system software during the week. Employee recognition can take place in these meetings to highlight great performance and above average customer service. These meetings also give you an opportunity to encourage team unity and express appreciation for their work and dedication to performing well on the job.
With most call centers your turnover rate will be high, no matter how much encouragement you offer or team spirit you inspire. To combat the rotating door of employees coming and going, keep a steady supply of resumes on hand to choose from when the need to hire arises again. You’ll benefit from saving the resumes of candidates you interviewed and nearly hired.
Any time you select a more experienced candidate when others were qualified for the job, file away those resumes for later. Holding on to these simplifies your work later by giving you a pool of candidates to pull from at a moment’s notice. In the time since your interview they may not have found a job, or a job they enjoy. You already have a feel for those candidates that have previously interviewed. You know that they are interested in the job. Keeping those resumes will save you the time it takes to read through new ones and it will give you a higher chance of success when calling back.
Managing call centers can be a great experience, but you need to approach it with the right attitude and with an understanding of the field’s unique turnover rate if you want to provide your customers with great service. Train your employees well and often, organize and clearly define your processes to smooth out your training workflow, and always stay poised and ready to bring new people onto your team.