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Written by: Laura Fitzgerald

Head of Brand and Digital Experience

Call centers take thousands of calls each day, and even the tiniest of slip-ups could result in negative reviews and loss of goodwill. 

Managing call center agents in high-risk industries like finance or healthcare is even more challenging, and constitutes a lot more than just scheduling shifts and reviewing performance metrics. 

In order to lead your call center towards success, you need to follow several important practices for effective call center management. But before we get to that, let’s talk about call center management first.

What is Call Center Management?

Contact center management refers to the coordinated efforts and strategies employed to oversee and optimize the operations of a call center.

The primary objective of contact center management is to ensure that customer interactions are handled efficiently, effectively, and to the satisfaction of both the customer and the business. 

This involves training and managing a team of agents, who are the frontline employees interacting directly with customers. 

Effective training programs are crucial for equipping agents with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle a wide range of customer inquiries and issues.

7 Best Practices for Effective Contact Center Management

Now, let’s talk about seven best practices for improved contact center management.

  1. Clearly Define Roles
    Defining roles clearly within the organization is one of the most fundamental steps that you can take towards better management. This process is foundational in creating an operational environment where each team member is clear about their responsibilities and how they contribute to the broader objectives of the organization.

    Each role within the organization should be specific, detailed, and tailored to the unique needs of the call center. Rather than relying on generic titles and responsibilities, each role should be clearly outlined, encompassing the tasks involved, the level of authority and decision-making power, and the expected performance metrics.

    For example, the role of a call center agent should specify the types of calls they will handle, the expected resolution rate, and the requisite communication skills.

    Roles might include customer service representatives, technical support specialists, quality assurance analysts, workforce managers, and training coordinators, among others. Each of these roles demands specific skills and expertise.

    By clearly defining these roles, the contact center ensures that the right people are placed in the right positions, thus optimizing efficiency and effectiveness.
  2. Introduce Robust Fraud Prevention Measures
    Taking robust fraud prevention measures is one of the best things that you can do to improve overall contact center management. With the right tool, not only will you be able to significantly reduce the number of fraudulent calls, but also improve productivity across the organization.

    Tools like voice authentication and biometric verification have become increasingly important in verifying the identity of callers.

    A notable example in this field is Pindrop, a technology that provides phone call analysis and voice-fingerprinting to detect fraudulent activity.

    By analyzing various attributes of a call, such as the caller’s voice and background noise, Pindrop can help identify potential security threats and reduce the risk of fraud.

    Pindrop uses passive voice authentication to determine if a caller is who they say they are, and helps authenticate their voice quickly and seamlessly. This means that your agents don’t have to spend a few minutes per call just authenticating every caller, ultimately resulting in faster resolution times.

    Request a demo to learn more about how contact centers benefit from Pindrop!

  3. Establish Proper Onboarding Procedures
    Your employees in the contact center need to be properly trained and should understand their responsibilities. For that to happen, you need to establish proper onboarding procedures.

    The onboarding process should begin with a comprehensive introduction to the company, including its history, mission, values, and the specific goals of the call center.

    This initial orientation helps new hires to align their personal objectives with the broader goals of the organization and understand the impact of their roles. Providing a clear picture of the company’s customer service philosophy is also essential, as it sets the tone for how they will interact with and serve customers.

    Following the introduction, the focus should shift to role-specific training. This involves detailed sessions on the call center’s systems and technologies, the products or services being offered, and the standard operating procedures.

    Interactive training methods, such as shadowing experienced agents, role-playing scenarios, and hands-on practice with call center software, can be particularly effective.

    Such immersive training ensures that new employees are not just passively receiving information, but are actively engaging with the material, leading to better retention and understanding.

  4. Focus on Ongoing Training for Support Agents
    New technologies and practices are being regularly introduced in call centers, and you need to make sure that agents adapt accordingly. Offering ongoing training and upskilling opportunities is critically important if you want to improve operational efficiency in the contact center.

    Incorporating a mix of training methodologies is beneficial. Traditional classroom learning can be complemented with e-learning modules, webinars, and interactive workshops.

    This variety keeps the training engaging and accessible, catering to different learning styles. For instance, role-playing exercises can simulate real-life customer scenarios, providing agents with hands-on experience in dealing with challenging situations.

    Similarly, e-learning modules can offer flexibility, allowing agents to learn at their own pace and revisit material as needed.

    More importantly, feedback and coaching are integral to the ongoing training process too. Regular performance reviews, where call recordings are analyzed, can provide agents with specific, actionable feedback.

    Personalized coaching sessions can then be used to address any areas of improvement identified during these reviews. This tailored approach ensures that each agent receives the support they need to develop their skills effectively.

  5. Monitor Essential Performance Metrics
    Monitoring essential performance metrics is vital in call center management, as it provides a clear picture of the operational efficiency and customer service effectiveness.

    By closely tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), managers gain invaluable insights into the functioning of the call center, enabling them to make data-driven decisions, pinpoint areas for improvement, and uphold service quality standards.

    Some of the performance metrics and KPIs that managers should keep a close eye on include:

    – Average handling times
    – CSAT scores
    – Call abandonment rates
    – Fraud attacksEffective monitoring of these KPIs requires a blend of advanced technology for data collection and a strategic approach for analysis.
    Call center management software can automate much of this process, but it’s up to the management team to interpret the data and implement necessary changes.
    This might mean adjusting staffing levels, revising training approaches, or introducing new technologies to enhance efficiency.
  6. Maintain Open Communication Lines
    In a dynamic call center environment, information moves rapidly and needs to be managed effectively. Managers should prioritize transparent communication regarding company policies, procedural changes, and performance expectations.

    Regular meetings, whether in-person or virtual, can serve as platforms for discussing updates, addressing concerns, and sharing company news.

    These meetings provide a space for agents to voice their opinions and feel heard, contributing to a more inclusive workplace culture.

    Feedback mechanisms are another essential component of open communication. This includes not only management providing feedback to agents but also encouraging agents to share their insights and suggestions.
    Constructive feedback helps in personal and professional growth, while input from agents can lead to valuable improvements in processes and practices. Tools like suggestion boxes, feedback forms, or regular one-on-one meetings can be effective in gathering this input.

  7. Plan for Contingencies
    Many contact centers often run 24/7, making it imperative for managers to plan for contingencies that might arise.

    The first step in contingency planning is to identify potential risks and disruptions that could impact the call center’s operations.

    These might include technical failures, such as system outages or software malfunctions, as well as external factors like natural disasters, pandemics, or other emergencies that could affect physical call center locations.

    Additionally, staffing challenges, such as high absenteeism or turnover rates, should also be considered.

    Once potential risks are identified, the next step is to develop response plans for each scenario. This involves outlining specific actions to be taken in the event of each identified risk.

    For instance, in the case of a system outage, the plan might include switching to a backup system, rerouting calls to another location, or implementing manual processes.

    For external emergencies like natural disasters, the plan could involve remote work arrangements or relocating operations to an unaffected site.

    Simulated drills or exercises can be conducted to test the feasibility and effectiveness of the response strategies.

    These tests help in identifying any gaps or weaknesses in the plans and provide an opportunity for refinement.

    Regular updates are also necessary to ensure that the plans remain relevant and effective, considering any changes in the call center’s operations or the external environment.

Continue to Review and Refine Your Management Principles

Call centers are fast-moving, dynamic environments, and with new technologies being introduced and integrated regularly, it’s incredibly important for managers to adapt quickly.

It’s vitally important for call center managers to review and integrate new technologies and adapt to new management techniques to ensure operational excellence.