The Top Tips for managing a Call Centre
Your company has invested time, capital, and manpower into creating the perfect call centre. Every detail has been accounted for, and every desk has someone at it. Each representative has a phone in their hand, answering the questions of the public and working hard at outbound appointment setting.
For the moment, there is a buzz in the air. People are excited. The customers are getting answers and your lead generation services are all working well. Maintaining this level of efficiency is key to keeping your workforce productive and happy. Creating a work environment geared towards excellence involves three concepts: Happy workers, up-to-date facilities, and supportive management. Keeping these aspects in focus will ensure the highest quality work done in your business.
Employees are the lifeblood of any business. Without workers, the aspirations of the managers never go past being dreams. Keeping the morale of the employees up is key to making sure they stay with the company. Training a new employee costs time and resources, and Customer Service Representatives have a high turnover rate. According to David Filwood, consultant at Telesoft Systems, the annual turnover for CSR’s in India is as high as 55%. While there is some variance between industry sectors and countries, every time an employee leaves, it costs time and resources training a replacement. So why are they leaving? According to Frances C. Frei, in the Harvard Business Review, employees are more likely to cite work environment than pay as the main reason. Work environments can be influenced physically, socially, and through management. All three need to be maintained to properly support employee morale.
Layout or office problems at a contact centre can be numerous. The layout of the office may hinder productivity. As humans, no one likes to feel crowded or jammed into a room. Make sure the call centre layout has enough room for people to move around a bit. Make sure there is plenty of natural light and not too many fluorescent lights. Depending on how many people, make sure there are enough facilities and break rooms. In the early phases of the twenty-first century, more and more business places are embracing the casual work environment, according to the LA Times. With this casual dress code comes a less formal feeling to the corporate world. This isn’t a party, of course. However, the days of cold office buildings full of stuffy workers undertaking telesales, who would rather be anywhere else are slowly disappearing.
Aside from layout, make sure your employee’s technology is up to date for the tasks at hand. A myriad of options is available for the 21st-century office space. Office technology is often overlooked and disregarded. Computers are expensive, and servicing them can be intimidating. The problem is when computers go ignored for too long. Programs become obsolete, and hardware can fall into disrepair quickly. Keeping your technology up to date is expensive, but waiting for it to break will be even more so. The heart of the call centre is the automated call line. Having a fully functional call line is as much about the technology as it is about the people. If your technology is up to date but the person answering the phone isn’t well versed, the whole process can turn sour in an instant.
How do you make sure your people are in tune with the needs of the customer? The best way is to stay on top of training them. Customers believe that how a Service Representative conducts himself is just as important as whether or not they are well informed. Taking time to make sure your workers know cultural etiquette can make a great first impression on anyone calling or more significantly when engaging in the art of outbound telesales. While in casual speech, all greetings are almost equal, in the business world, there is a great difference between greetings. Without proper education on the matter, many workers might not understand the difference between a solid affirmative statement like “Yes,” or “of Course”, and a more lukewarm response such as “Sure,” “Uh-huh,” or “yep.”
When the workday starts and the phones start ringing, make sure they are answered in a timely fashion. According to the ECmag.com, the “three ring” rule should be applied. This means that every phone is answered within three rings, and not longer. Also, while your call centre may have several different departments and options, keep your phone answering service system simple enough to be functional.
Automated phone answering systems have developed a reputation for being labyrinthian. Your customers already have questions about the product, don’t send them on a quest just to speak to a human being. Depending on where you are in the world, a direct and honest answer might not be the most anticipated one. Some cultures call for more indirect answers, while countries like the United States prefers quick direct answers. Above all else, some workers may need training in how to be courteous. A calm collected answer to a heated exchange may be the difference between a satisfied customer and an eternal smudged reputation online.
Training your workers in the art of contact centre etiquette is important, but even the politest worker cannot give effective answers if they don’t know what they are talking about. Keeping your employees up to date on all of your products is key. According to Chron.com employees without knowledge of the product are among the most irritating causes of customer complaints. The customer already has questions, and successfully navigated the automated phone system. Make sure that your employees are up to speed on everything your company does. Keeping your employees informed is the primary job of any manager or company leader, and there is a huge difference between the good leaders and the great leaders.
Management styles are possibly the most influential aspect of any company and this is particularly true for any Australian call centre specialising in lead generation services, cold calling and telemarketing. Some choose to rule with an iron fist, while others fade into the background, almost unnoticed unless something goes wrong. Different companies require differing styles, but one thing remains constant across all sectors: Employees feel empowered when they know what is going on.
According to Business Insider, contact centre staff who perform well may have more to do with the guidance they are receiving than previously thought. A recent study by Evolv, a research group tested call centre workers under different managers and management styles. It was discovered that the leader has a huge impact on the part of the worker. Even something as simple as a kind word or encouragement from a superior can influence how well an employee is performing. While it is true that the quality of the worker themselves plays a role in the quality of work, this study found that the quality of leadership was almost as important. If you want a good quality call centre, don’t just tell your workers what to do, come alongside and show them how it’s done.
Just as etiquette is vital to good customer service, it is also essential on the part of management. You have worked hard to get where you are, and you should be proud of your position. The people under you know they are not as powerful, and are looking to you for guidance. Now is not a good time to remind them who is higher on the corporate ladder. When instructing employees, be sure to speak to them as adults. Learning new tasks, cold calling, appointment setting and generating leads can be nerve racking, requires a lot of concentration and can be an exhausting process. Now is not the time to treat them as children.
Big No No
If you’ve chosen to set up your call centre overseas, there are a hundred little intricacies to think of before you can even begin to start teaching about your company’s values. Different cultures, societies, languages, and learning styles abound throughout the globe. Your contact centre needs to anticipate those difficulties and be prepared to deal with them. A properly respected workforce will respond with respect to management, and to the customer. A well-educated workforce will generate no end to good customer service. However, no system is perfect, and there will come a time to weed out the bad apples. How you deal with discipline issues is just as important as how you treat workers on a daily basis.
No matter how good your screening processes are, you’re going to have to enforce rules. Someone is going to be late, sleeping at their desk, or just needs to be reminded that the work they are doing is important. Some managers prefer to enforce draconian rules as soon as possible, while others have more of a soft touch. An important aspect to call center efficiency is striking the right balance of discipline and levity. According to a study done by the Academy of Management, in 2004, many managers have seen bending rules as a way of changing the workplace for the better. Of course, not every rule should be bent, as ignoring such rules as safety and security can have disastrous consequences. However, by strict adherence to the rules at all times can cause rebellion in the ranks. Finding the right balance is key to allowing employees to be empowered. Maybe the dress code can be relaxed on Friday, but fishnet stockings and tank tops are never acceptable.
According to Chron.com, a business website, there are several ways of enforcing discipline in your call centre. The first step is to establish a clear code of conduct as to what is acceptable and unacceptable. Employees can’t be held accountable for their actions if they didn’t even know what they were doing was wrong. Outline exactly how to report a breach of conduct to a superior. This allows employees the freedom not to guess what they should do next if something goes wrong. Finally, Maintain your policies regardless of rank in the company. It is a bad idea to allow your managers to disrespect your workers, and then punish your workers for their poor attitudes.
Running a call centre isn’t easy. Each day brings with it a hundred small considerations that may or may not dictate the success of the centre in the long run. Every employee is the first contact a customer has with your company. Each good customer service story is worth its weight in gold for your enterprise. If you maintain your call centres workspaces, technology, employee morale, and management, you will be successful.
Imperatif has been in the call centre and appointment setting business for quite a while, and will create a call centre solution based on your needs. Let us help bring you to your customers. Contact Imperatif Call Centre Partner now for your Obligation Free Call Centre Solution Quote.