Good to Great


How do you take your call center performance from good to great?

In order to answer that question there are a few things to consider. Most call centers would boast that they have a highly impacting leadership development program and a strict performance management process in place but when you take a closer look you will quickly identify that overworked staff don’t have the resources or time to achieve their full potential.

It starts with the first operations promotion, whether it’s into a Quality Assurance, Supervisor or a Manager role. Most call centers have little to no training programs to prepare new leaders for their roles. They are simply expected to learn on the job from their peers or learn through trial and error. I myself started off in multiple roles this way. You always hear “I’ll meet with you a few times each week to get you up to speed” or “I would like to sit down with you to review the main deliverables, reporting and deliver our coaching program” but when it comes down to it those meetings don’t often get booked and never materialize. If they do they are the first to be cancelled when an urgent client request comes in.

When it comes to leadership development programs in the call center industry, there are many things to take into account. Are the programs helping leaders attack key topics including Root Cause Analysis, how to handle a diversity of employees, identifing possible attrition risks early on, or building team morale? Most of you will answer No to that question and some of you might not even know the answer because the last time you were part of a leadership development course may be months or even years by now. For those programs that do exist, many cover high level topics that act more as ideas rather than actionable processes; including time management, how to handle stress, communication and motivation. Few programs cover the real nitty gritty specifics needed for self-improvement.

Another issue with these programs is that they are tackled as a blanket approach where all leaders are expected to attend all courses rather than providing them with the ability to choose the course relevant to each leaders’ weaknesses. This causes those taking the course to look at it as another corporate mandate which leads to a disengaged learner.

A good way to see if you have an effective performance management process in place is to simply reach out to each level of employee in your company and ask them what the process is and what resources they have to execute it. At an agent level you will often find that they don’t know the process or understand the qualifications required to be on a performance management plan. When you get in to a supervisor level, they will often be able to review the process at a high level however actually putting it in to place is another story. Many supervisors don’t proactively bring forward the list of agents ready to move on to performance management plans and it is usually the manager that has to identify the agent to get the process rolling first. This can be the result of different factors depending on the leader. For some it could be a lack of reporting available to identify the repeat offenders and for others it could be a lack of time to process the information. At a managers level, the expectation is that they are managing their business to be top notch when it comes to performance but reality is there are a million things that need to be completed on a daily basis and it would be fair to say that this sometimes gets “snoozed” until the next day and before you know it the week is over.

There are no shortcuts when taking your call center from good to great, it takes hard work and a strong leadership team. Invest in your leaders by providing them with initial and ongoing development; ensure time is incorporated on a regular basis for one on one support and team learning workshops. Make time for these key initiatives and your team will go from good to great in no time.