Our world has virtually become a global village. Companies operate from multiple countries, customers come from various countries and continents, and many individuals now have dual citizenship. The movement of labor, money, products and information has effectively blurred the borders of the world. This increased global integration of businesses, markets and products has made call center service providers more important and useful than ever. They not only fulfill a need but are also cost effective. And since call centers in different parts of the world can represent the same company, their services are available around the clock to accommodate various time differences.
As call centers sprouted across the globe, a trend began to emerge; some remained and were lauded, while others were not so warmly received, their operation ceased, and the business packed up rather quickly.
There is a clear distinction between a good and a bad call center; what makes them different is an ongoing information gathering exercise. While some call centers thrive on a robust IT infrastructure, others rely on excellent agents and a management that actively conducts training sessions to improve their work force and labor. While poor management along with lack of technology are important factors, they are not the only reason a call center may be deemed ineffective.
Management needs to ensure there are enough agents on the phone to cover the demand for customer support. Additionally, the call center management needs to have a forecasting model in place that collects data and aids in forecasting through statistical analysis. Having a proactive workforce management in place can help in making decisions on the fly and help offer better online customer support experience. A multimedia center platform supported by a data repository is a key part of the remedy as well.
Call centers are not the right fit for orthodox, by-the-book type of managers, as customer demographic ranges wildly. For a call center environment to be effective, managers are required to be flexible and innovative, as management style has an effect on call center agents. Inflexible management can result in a call center with stilted agents who resist improvement or creative thinking. This will make your agents sound more robotic and less natural, and will diminish the customer’s experience.
Hiring the right type of agent can be the difference between a good call center and a bad call center. Call center service providers have been guilty of overlooking this important aspect of their business resource. A hallmark of good management is that it understands the different personality types that are most suited to the job requirement. They know how to hire and who to hire.
Hiring agents who can speak fluently, possess an outgoing personality, are informative and do not require a script, will produce a superior contact center compared with those that are intent on simply hiring bodies. An agent should have a presence of mind that allows them to adapt to the situation and the customer. Agents, who rely on scripts, or are forced to follow a script, come off as unnatural and make for an awkward customer contact experience. Agents should be encouraged to converse and be knowledgeable, and be allowed a certain degree of freedom in how they interact with the customers.
Another good management catalyst remains continuous appraisal and self-analysis. A good manager can evolve and improve the work place, looking for places in need of improvement and identifying the best calling strategies and methods. They will collect data to keep track of trends and progress. If call centers are left stagnant they can become a barrier to growth, and using quantifiable methods and models will help in evaluating trends better.
All of these factors constitute good call centers, and good managers often are the unsung heroes, behind the success stories. Great managers are groomed; they are not born and cannot be hired at the whim of an organization. Some are molded into great leaders while others are born with it. All good call centers have excellent management and task force in common. Technology infrastructure and proficient agents also make a difference, but if good management is lacking, a good call center can slowly descend into oblivion, and vice versa.