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Customer service skills: What does it take to make a great contact centre manger?

Contact centres act as the frontline for many businesses. They are the point of contact where customers and companies meet to resolve issues and buy products and services. Operating at their best, contact centres play a fundamental part in creating a positive customer experience. At their worst, they can inflict irreparable damage that the business they represent will find hard to come back from.

It’s the job of the contact centre manager to oversee the balancing act that makes or breaks a call centre’s success. As such, they have to handle extreme amounts of pressure, while keeping agents happy and accountable for goals and deadlines. Despite the difficulties, if you’re a contact manager, there are a select number of habits and practices that will help you follow the path to greatness.

Listen to feedback from your agents

Agents are the eyes and ears of any contact centre. From a contact manager’s perspective, this makes their feedback invaluable, as they will be the first to notice trends, and their input can be used to stimulate changes that will help improve the overall customer experience.

Allowing agents to air their voice via team meetings will help them feel as though they play a vital role in the success of the contact centre. However, it is always good to back up such sessions by implementing an anonymous ‘suggestions box’. This way, those who are not comfortable offering feedback in public will still have a way of getting their point of view across.

Deliver short, sharp training sessions on an ongoing basis

According to a report by Sales Performance International, without reinforcement, 84% of what is learned through multi-day training programmes is lost within 90 days.

As a result, there is a growing number of sales managers who are seeking to replace marathon training sessions with learning experiences that are short, sharp and focused. Training delivered as needed, where needed, and an ongoing basis is better served to making lessons stick. Plus, it can also save money in the long-term – so it’s a win-win situation.

Once in a while, put yourself in your agents’ shoes

When was the last time you picked up a headset? If it’s been awhile, you might be surprised by the insight you can glean. For one, it will help you gain a better understanding of the challenges your agents face every day. But perhaps of greater value is that managers who are occasionally seen to put themselves in the shoes of their workforce, typically, find it a lot easier to command respect from the agents working for them.

Implement a structured recruiting programme

Estimates for the turnover rate at call centres across the industry varies. However, there are studies that place the rate at somewhere between 25 to 35%. That means for every 100 agents you employ, up to 35 will leave of their own volition by the end of the year.

Implementing a structured recruiting programme can help you attract better talent, which, in theory, will contribute to reducing your staff turnover rate. Start by ensuring that all applicants fully understand the contact centre environment, and use behaviour-based interview questions and competency-based assessment tools to evaluate whether they will be a good fit for your team.

If your agent turnover rate remains high, conduct exit interviews to gain a better understanding of why people leave. This will help you to identify the common trends and grievances that will help you to make improvements that increase job satisfaction levels.

Motivate your staff

Due to the stressful nature of the work, call centre agents are prone to burn out. As a contact centre manager, this means learning how to maintain drive and energy within your team is an essential part of being successful.

One of the main techniques contact managers use for stimulating agents is setting targets and offering incentives. If you work in sales, the biggest motivation will probably always be money. Consequently, if possible, it’s a good idea to reward exceptional performance with cash bonuses.

Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that every person is unique, which means some won’t be solely money motivated. In this case, sharing positive feedback, highlighting successes, developing team bonding sessions and using a combination of other motivational tactics can help reap the desired rewards.

Be approachable

More often than not, contact managers that show they care will have the most success when it comes to getting the best out of their team.

Consider talking to your team about things other than work. This will help you to gain a better understanding of what makes them tick, and it will help your agents see you as an individual and not just their manager. Equally, joining your agents for lunch and mixing up working hours to be seen by a broader range of employees can also go a long way towards creating a positive and inclusive working environment.

Embrace new technologies

In recent years, technological advances have changed the face of the contact centre.

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can now help agents access relevant prospect data in real-time, which help provide the support needed to deliver better results. Mobile technology and cloud-based SaaS means agents no longer need to be tied to their desk, and can work from anywhere. Social media platforms, when used effectively and ethically, can provide agents with extra touch points in the customer service mix.

In short, new technologies have – and will continue to – provide a completive edge to contact centre managers with their finger on the pulse, so it pays to keep informed on the latest tools and developments.


As you can see, there are a wide range of skills and techniques that a contact manager can adopt to help breed success. Do you want to learn more about building a successful contact centre? Then you can download our free guide ‘Building the customer centric contact centre’ to find our more.