contact center management

What is contact center management?

Contact center management is the process of overseeing contact center operations with the goal of providing an outstanding customer experience in an effective and efficient manner.

Contact center leadership must understand and implement both the science and art of running a contact center. The science of running a contact center focuses on ensuring that adequate structure and resources are available to respond to customer inquiries in a timely manner. The art of running a contact center includes adjusting to unplanned and nonrecurring events -- such as power outages, unplanned marketing mailings and high absenteeism.

Contact center management encompasses a broad set of responsibilities, including the following:

  • Managing and leading staff.
  • Designing and implementing processes.
  • Selecting and utilizing technology.
  • Measuring results.

Each of these responsibilities requires an in-depth focus to ensure effectiveness.

Managing and leading staff

People are the heart and soul of a contact center. Contact center agents interact with customers daily and are the eyes, ears and voice of the organization. Contact center supervisors and managers are the motivators and provide leadership to contact center agents.

Contact center leadership must focus on three critical areas regarding people, including the following:

  • Skills and attitude. Managers must ensure the individuals who are hired have the appropriate attitude, skills and disposition to work in a fast-moving customer-focused environment. For leadership positions, individuals must possess the ability to motivate team members along with the skill to coach and counsel individuals.
  • Training. Managers must ensure the agents who work in the contact center are properly trained both as new hires and on a continuous basis. For individuals in leadership roles, they must be trained on skills such as resolving conflict, providing effective feedback, coaching and counseling.
  • Employee engagement. Managers must create an environment where employees are engaged and are rewarded for their performance. Contact center agents work in a stressful environment, as very few customers reach out to contact center agents to tell them how great they are. It's up to contact center leadership to make them feel valued and recognize them for their performance.

Designing and implementing processes

Contact center leaders must develop and regularly review processes that support the contact center operation.

Processes include the following:

Some processes are fully contained within the contact center under a single leadership organization. But processes often flow between multiple organizations, and leaders from different areas must work together to determine and develop the most effective process flows.

For example, say a customer needs to return a defective product for a replacement. There needs to be a coordinated process and integrated communications between the contact center, inventory management and distribution. Looping in these departments ensures a replacement product is available, and that shipment information is available to the contact center if the customer calls to inquire about the status of the replacement product.

Another example would be when a contact center needs to hire additional agents and must work with human resources in the recruiting process. Details the two departments would discuss include how many new agents are needed, what skills are required, and who would screen and interview the candidates.

Selecting and using technology

Technology enables processes to be performed in a standardized and repeatable manner.

Contact center management must define the business requirements, which must be aligned with well-defined processes, to identify appropriate technology solutions.

Business requirements that contact centers needs to discuss include the following:

  • What channels of communication will the technology support?
  • What information will appear on automated dashboards and reports?
  • Will automated workforce management be used?
  • What systems need to be integrated with each other?
  • How will customer inquiries be routed?

Technology may be customer facing to assist in self-service or may be internal to streamline contact center operations.

Technologies that assist in self-service include the following:

  • Interactive voice response. IVR lets customers speak -- or use touch tone -- with an automated system. It provides preprogrammed responses for appropriate situations. It can also hand off the call to a human agent.
  • Chatbots. These can engage with customers over the phone, on a website or via SMS.
  • Web portals. These provide customers with access to a secure personalized website.

Technologies that help streamline internal contact center operations include the following:

  • Contact center software with skill-based routing. This is a method of routing customers to the next-available agent with a specific skill set.
  • Workforce management software. This automates and optimizes agent scheduling in the contact center.
  • Call monitoring software. This streamlines the process of listening to and analyzing agent phone calls with customers.

Measuring performance

Contact center leaders must measure performance to determine how well the department is operating in relation to specific goals. Contact center management is responsible for establishing and reporting KPIs to identify where the contact center is performing well and where there are opportunities for improvement.

Contact center performance should be measured across a variety of levels -- including department, team and agent. Actionable KPIs must be controllable at the level being measured and therefore some KPIs can be used across all levels while other KPIs should only be used at specific levels.

Examples of department metrics include the following:

Examples of contact center agent metrics -- many of which can also be used as team metrics -- include the following:

  • Average handle time.
  • Average hold time.
  • Average talk time.
  • Customer satisfaction.
  • Escalation rate.
  • First-contact resolution.
  • Occupancy rate.
  • Quality monitoring score.
  • Schedule adherence.

What are the benefits of contact center management?

The key benefit of contact center management is to provide focus on the key components of a contact center operation. It places accountability for execution and defines specific action steps for each of those components.

Contact center management is the conductor of the contact center symphony, ensuring all the individual pieces are working in harmony to support the larger goals of providing an outstanding customer experience in an effective and efficient manner.

Additional contact center management benefits include the following:

  • Increased revenue. Happy customers will continue to spend money with an organization and possibly refer others to do business with them.
  • Reduced expenses. Happy employees who work hard will stay with an organization and focus on resolving customer issues. Employee satisfaction means less turnover and less money spent in the hiring and training process.
  • Improved bottom-line results. This is the result of streamlined operations.

Skills needed to be a successful contact center manager

Some qualities needed to be a successful contact center manager include the following:

  • Must ensure exceptional customer service to prevent bad experiences.
  • Must be able to coach and motivate team members to accomplish a common goal.
  • Must be able to develop and implement processes to drive efficiency and quality.
  • Must excel at workforce management.
  • Must have strong communication skills to relay business goals and policies to team members.
  • Must be able to determine which technologies -- such as workforce management, quality monitoring and multichannel routing -- will benefit the organization.
  • Must be able to identify key contact center metrics -- such as first-contact resolution and customer satisfaction -- to measure the success of the organization.
  • Must be creative and have problem-solving skills to manage conflict.
This was last updated in July 2024

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