Congratulations! You scored a promotion to lead a team in your company’s contact center! But as exciting as it is, you’re probably filled with at least a few jitters, right? Don’t worry. You’re not the first, and certainly not the last, to move through the ranks and take on the responsibilities of a manager. In fact, more than 70 percent of contact center managers were promoted from their role as an agent.
Walking in on Monday morning as the newly-minted manager, you might already be comfortable with the people you’re now leading. But you probably know more about what Carol did last weekend than you do about her KPIs and how she handles angry customers.
Your job as a manager doesn’t come with a playbook or an indexed and color-coded manual to learn about your team. In fact, a study from Officevibe found that 53 percent of managers didn’t feel like they had an accurate view of what it meant to be a manager when they got started in their role.
Your training and the messy notes piled up from a previous manager will help you nail down metrics and learn what was important before you took on this role, but in many cases, you’re in charge of creating the map for the new, uncharted territory you’ve entered.
To build a people-first, customer service machine and be a proactive leader, use these three, key pieces to lead the team you inherit: define your team’s purpose, assess your current team, and coach your agents with strategy. Here’s how:
1. Determine your team’s purpose.
Your team purpose is a clear overview of why your team exists. You highlight the benefit you bring to the table and your agents align their jobs to the company’s mission.
With all the KPIs and important metrics you’re tracking, how do you single out your central purpose?
Think past your surface-level metrics and anecdotal interactions. Dig into what it means to be on this team, working in a contact center. Lean on your new team to help you brainstorm. Think through your company’s mission, vision and core values to ideate ways your team helps paint the big picture.
After you’ve roped in your agents and drilled your goals down to their most important elements, then twist those few key points into a purpose statement. Think about what your team contributes to the company, why you serve your customers, and what your customers’ really need. Incorporate bits and pieces of these values and behaviors into your purpose statement, so your team can use it as a reset button whenever they feel offbeat.
And, be sure the statement you choose is one that will stand the test of time. You can’t predict your company’s growth or know how your contact center priorities might change, but craft a purpose that’s malleable enough to shift (without breaking) when you need it to.
2. Assess your current team.
Take a good look at your team and figure out the skills and gaps you have on board. If you don’t already know your agents, get acquainted. Learn their names, their talents, and take interest in their personal lives. Then, understand how they contribute to the team. Review metrics, from a team view down to the desktops of each agent. Next, set up initial 1:1 conversations to get a pulse on your agents’ well-being.
After you’ve spent a little time with each person on your team, then you can dig in and evaluate your team chemistry. Get a live-action shot of how your agents work by monitoring their performance and stepping back to see the inner-workings of the contact center.
Monitoring doesn’t mean hovering, though.
When you check-in on your team’s work, review interactions to get a sense for your agents’ style. Listen to how they talk to customers. And pay attention to the questions they ask during conversations. Occasionally pop by their desks to sneak in some face time and see how they work, too.
Assessing your team helps your agents grow. When you monitor your agents the right way, you’re spotting areas where you can help develop them, and where you can serve up coaching moments that will benefit your customers. You also get a snapshot of how agents act and work with each other. So, you can keep an eye on agent morale and peer-to-peer interactions. Having a team that works well together, and works together for the benefit of your customers, is fundamental to building a happy team that’s continuously successful.
3. Develop a plan and framework to coach your agents.
Once you’ve IDed your purpose and posted up at the watchtower to see your team’s happenings, you’ll know where to invest your time for a return that gets you better agent and customer experiences. Then, craft your master plan to improve your contact center through coaching.
Start by building a foundation of trust with each of your agents. Be relatable and get to know members of your team on a personal level. Taking a casual approach to coaching humanizes the way you lead. It puts you on a level playing field, so agents don’t dread developmental conversations with you. Instead, they get pumped for them and feel comfortable sharing feedback with you, too. Then, they let you in on the way they work and what type of feedback they need to grow.
Next up, set a cadence for coaching. In all the waters you’re wading through, managing your never-ending to-do list will be the trickiest. Your priorities shifted, and you have to make time in your daily routine to coach your agents. Map out your week at a glance and block out some time each day to review agent interactions. Even if it’s only 30 minutes. Even when WFM says you’re going to be slammed.
Leave notes on your agents’ interactions so they can see their successes, and where there’s room to improve next time. Surface-level feedback is low-impact. Make coaching more actionable and relevant for your agents with contextual lessons, carved into your calendar daily.
As you coach daily, pay special mind to the factors that impact your agents’ efficiency, effectiveness, and empowerment. Your job as a leader is to set your team up for success. When you align your team to a central purpose, coach frequently, and focus on well-being, you’ll navigate your way through any waters.
Now that your priorities are all set to help you lead your inherited team of agents, learn how to kick-off one your most meaningful coaching initiatives: 1-on-1 meetings.
Jump over to our guide on how to make 1-on-1s productive in your contact center!