As a contact center manager, your plate is filled to the brim with daily tasks and obligations. But the all-you-can-eat buffet keeps calling your name, telling you to top that plate off with a little bit more. You’re responsible for developing your agents. And meeting your customers’ SLAs. Then reviewing routine policies and procedures. And tackling a host of administrative tasks you just don’t have time for. The list goes on. And on. And on.
Plus, you’re expected to keep pace with industry trends and develop your personal skills, too. But, with so much demanding your attention, searching for new learning resources seems impossible.
Industry blogs and newsletters are always an option. Or, maybe you’ll sign up for a few webinars to watch while you’re at your desk. There’s a ton of information out there, but how do you know what will give you the insight you need. For deeper dives on intricate topics, like contact center coaching and A.I., books are your best bet.
We pulled together a list of five books every contact center manager should read this year. They cover everything from operations to retaining millennial agents. The best part? These are quick, but impactful, reads. In fact, most are under 200 pages.
Here they are:
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1. Conducting a Contact Center Assessment by Michael Cusack
Author Michael Cusack dives into contact center assessments, and how they can help your team be more efficient and effective. He has packed the book with practical how-tos on driving growth and improvement in both operations and service level. He uses four factors: efficiency, effectiveness, capability, and competitive differentiation, as the core to your assessment. Then, he gives you the details on how to use the data you get from the assessment to create real solutions.
Whether you want to reduce your abandoned calls, improve agent retention or anything in-between, this book is your north star. It’s jam-packed with tools and templates to get you started, too.
Provides step-by-step directions on how to assess and plan for improvements in a straightforward manner that doesn’t require a Six Sigma black belt to understand or actually use. It is practical, informative, straightforward, and broad enough to cover just about everything.
2. AI Is My Friend: A Practical Guide For Contact Centers by Mikhail Naumov
Within the next decade, A.I. will transform contact centers and the customer experience. As A.I. advances and becomes more widely adopted, it’s important to understand the impact it’ll have on customer service. A.I. and bots can eliminate inefficiencies for your agents and take some of the simple tasks of their plates, so they have more time to establish positive connections with your customers.
Author Mikhail Naumov does a great job explaining what A.I. is, and what it isn’t. (No, it’s not a bunch of evil bots out to destroy the world.) Naumov talks through how A.I. is designed to help contact center jobs—not replace them. After reading this book, you’ll know how A.I. helps people work more efficiently and actually like their jobs. And, you’ll know how you can use the power of bots in your contact center.
This is an eye-opening read on how AI is and will be transforming customer service, and puts a thoughtful, often humorous, and very grounded view of the transformation in this sector. It makes me optimistic for the future of AI in that it can help all of us be more proficient in our daily work and focus on the things that really matter. I really recommend this book for anyone looking at AI seriously for improving customer service.
Want a real-life tour of how A.I. can improve your contact center’s efficiency and effectiveness? See it in action in our omni-channel contact center platform. Request a demo.
3. Call Center Rocket Science: 110 Tips to Creating a World Class Customer Service Organization by Randy Rubingh
This is the perfect resource for any manager looking for a quick read with tons of advice. Author Randy Rubingh provides practical tips based on his 25 years of contact center experience. For example, he explains how and why you can actually save money by paying your agents 20 percent more.
He discusses topics like how to recruit and hire the right candidates, then how to train them and set them up for success. He continues with insight about managing a team and creating a positive work culture to create a better, more effective contact center.
It’s clear in reading this book that the Author has spent time “in the trenches”, and understands the thinking and motivations of the front line CSR’s, and approaches that will work to motivate and manage them to perform. That real-world experience is what makes this book believable and valuable, especially when he offers advice that goes against traditional thinking.
4. Call Center Management on Fast Forward by Brad Cleveland
Brad Cleveland is a well-known author and influencer in the contact center industry. He’s known for his insight on improving customer relationships, and this book establishes his authority on the topic.
Now on its third edition, this book is a tried-and-true staple in the contact center space. Everyone from agents to C-suite executives finds value in the information and strategies Cleveland shells out. He shares tips, case studies, and his own experiences along the way. Here’s a breakdown of some of the crucial how-to topics he covers:
- Improve customer experiences
- Build a team equipped with the right know-how
- Achieve service level with quality
- Maximize your contact center’s strategic value
- Win top management’s support
If you’re like me, you may have years of experience in customer service and therefore think you understand call centers. But once I read Brad’s book I found out I didn’t really understand the unique combination of people, process and technology required to respond in an instant, to hundreds of randomly timed customer contacts covering a variety of issues. Call Center Management on Fast Forward opened my eyes to what is required to deliver customer service excellence on each and every contact.
5. Call Center: A Focus on Customer Service by Gwendolyn Oglesby
Gwen Oglesby is an experienced call center supervisor who has lead teams in several Fortune 500 contact centers throughout her years. Working in multiple contact centers drove her to write this book about the dynamics and work culture of agents and their supervisors. This book digs into what makes for a successful workplace. And, it also outlines all the factors that pile up to create negative customer service experiences – like an unhealthy work environment and a poor team culture.
Oglesby focuses on the importance of the agent experience and how you can prime your agents for growth, recognition, and promotion. She packs in actionable tips and thought-provoking questions, along with real-world examples and stories from her experiences to set the scene.
This book will help consumers learn how to effectively communicate with those hardworking representatives answering our calls. It’s also a treasure trove of ideas for supervisors or representatives working in call centers. I love the “Call Center Flashbacks” throughout the book with stories about real-life situations Ms. Oglesby, who is a long-time call center employee and supervisor, shares with the readers. The book is written with humor and insight. I recommend Call Center to anyone who works in a call center and also to all consumers who at some time will need customer service from a call center representative.
Use these books to boost your management game.
In the midst of all your top-of-the-list priorities, finding the time to invest in your own professional development is tough. When you’re struggling to find resources to boost your skill set, turn to these five reads for quick doses of knowledge.
With all the research, tips, and strategies offered up in these books, you’ll learn to engage your agents more effectively, deliver five-star customer service, and push your career (and your team’s) to the next level.
For another powerful resource to up your management techniques, jump over to our deep-dive guide on how to better coach your agents. Check it out: Your Call Center Manager Playbook.
We originally published this post on April 10, 2018, and we updated it on January 30, 2019.