In this series we will look at some useful tips for contact centre management, as seen by our work in the Australian contact centre industry. They are not presented in any particular order.
This article is the last of nine articles in the series.
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All Hands On Deck
We have all seen it before – the contact centre is humming along, service levels are good, NPS scores are right up there, staff morale is good, stress is down and the business is happy.
Then “something” happens.
“Something” could be anything that unexpectedly pushes up workload – an advertising campaign, a web site update, unexpected staff absences – anything that will cause service levels to drop and abandoned calls to increase. If it is short-term, management can usually ride it out with an explanation for the reason, however if it lasts longer, senior management will most likely want to see action.
The most common response is to put more people on the phones – a valid, short-term response. The temptation is for those extra people on the phones to be made up of contact centre team leaders, managers and other support staff, because they usually have the knowledge and can have an impact more quickly. Unfortunately this has unintended consequences and can actually prevent the workload from dropping again.
Firstly, team leaders are there to lead and support the team and manage process on a day-to-day basis. If they are on the phones, they are not able to adequately support the team so service levels drop and morale is impacted.
Secondly, if staff know there is nobody “watching the gauges” there is a possibility some may relax a bit and reduce their effort. It will certainly impact staff development and learning. This will also reduce customer service and puts pressure on other staff.
Thirdly, team leaders and managers are the very people that should be performing the analysis of why the impact to service occurred in the first place, and developing a strategy to return to normal levels. They cannot be doing this if they are on the phone serving customers.
The temptation for supervisors and managers to get on the phones during busy periods is strong – but it must be avoided at all costs. For the three reasons described above, it is unlikely the work volumes will decrease if team leaders and managers are on the phones – the phone becomes the priority and their “real job” doesn’t get done.
By all means increase staff numbers for short periods if necessary, but the additional staff should come from part timers working longer hours, staff in other parts of the business helping out, or temporary staff from a recruitment agency. Team leaders and managers should be left to do their “normal” jobs – they should not be on the phones.
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All previous articles are available on our web site – www.ccaction.com.au