Question from a New Supervisor…
Question: I’ve Been promoted to supervisor at my call center job. How can I be successful in this role?
We’re Glad You Asked PACE!
Congratulations! We place a lot of employees in temp-to-hire roles in call center environments, and we love it when they get hired permanently, which most do. In many cases, they end up getting promoted into the many leadership roles that are available to employees. You’ve obviously done what it takes to master the CSR role which is what got you noticed for promotion. Now is the time to take that step upwards to help others become successful.
Because we don’t know specifics about your particular call center, how it’s organized and how reps are hired and trained, our response will focus on what we consider the basics of the “supervisory” role – what is likely to be the most important things for you to pay attention to that will ensure your success.
Because we do so much recruiting in the call center field, we hear from reps all the time on what they like and don’t like about how they are treated by their employers, most importantly their first line supervisors. We learn about those things that prompt them to stay in a particular call center job, and what causes them to leave. Given that managing rep turnover is oftentimes a pressing issue for most call centers and ultimately impacts the effectiveness of the call center, we suspect that learning how to do certain things in order to keep call center reps engaged and avoid things that causes them to become disengaged, will become staples in your supervisory tool kit. In most call centers, managing CSR engagement as a way to prevent CSR turnover, is one of the most important measurements of your supervisory success.
Below are five things call center reps often tell us are important to them in regard to their relationship with their supervisor – and how they like to be managed.
- They like to be treated as individuals. Most call center reps are part of very large work teams. They typically work in environments with back to back cubicles, all looking somewhat the same. Supervisors who treat each of their reps as individuals, getting to know both their personal and professional reasons for working in their call center, make a positive impression on their reps.
Keep in mind, most call centers have check lists of “things to-do”. Weekly or monthly rep coaching sessions are a part of those “to-dos” and often get performed in a perfunctory way, instead of the up-close and personal way your reps prefer.
What sets supervisors apart, are those who take the time to make their coaching personal by helping individuals achieve specific goals. It’s also wise to go beyond the checklist mentality by finding additional ways to make your reps feel important. Dropping by a CSR work station when they have been out sick, to inquire about how they are feeling and let them know you missed them, can go a long way. Showing personal interest in the employees you supervise, making sure you know them as people, not just employees, will almost always be the difference that matters to your team’s CSR retention and performance.
- They like to be recognized for good work! Whether it’s achieving a team or individual productivity goal, or receiving some long awaited feedback on your customers “satisfaction”, finding new and fun ways to celebrate these individual or team successes will quickly become an important part of your job.
And you don’t need to wait for your employer to come up with formal awards programs. Some of the best recognition programs we hear reps talk about are programs designed to be team specific, short rather than long term. We see the most successful supervisors getting very good at creating quick, easy ways to recognize and reward their reps who are doing great work…either in teams or as individuals. Successful supervisors change their programs frequently to keep encouragement and incentives fresh.
- They like being praised more than they like “constructive” feedback. Make sure your feedback is effectively out of balance – 2/3 focused on praise for things being done well; 1/3 focused on performance improvements. If you’re like most new call center supervisors, you earned your promotion because you were a really good rep. You are anxious to share your “great techniques” with your new employees…oftentimes delivering more coaching than your reps consider ideal. To make sure your coaching and feedback is effective, we suggest you spend at least as much time noticing what others are “doing right” rather than always noticing “what can be improved upon”. Remember, your reps are not likely to act on your “dare” until they know you “care.”
- They like supervisors who take the time to witness their good work. Be proactive in finding ways to get up-close and personal with your reps efforts, so that you can proactively comment on their work, particularly, the work they are doing well. Find time to sit with each of your employees so that coaching and feedback is an expected component of your supervisory style. In between visits, find time to do quick looks at calls, live. When you hear something positive, make sure you tell the rep about the great call you heard and what you liked about it. If you’ve recently taught your team how to improve their calls, make sure you monitor their work and comment on how well they are picking up on your training.
While some reps would prefer their supervisors to be only there when they need help, the ones who are truly committed to being successful in their roles, want to work for a supervisor who notices.
- They like to be asked for their feedback – “what’s working? What’s not?” In a fast paced call center environment, feedback often ends up being one way – managers and supervisors telling reps what they need, but rarely asking for feedback in reverse. We suggest you pay attention to that complaint and frequently ask your reps how they are experiencing their work content, their work environment, their training and well as about your supervision. Pay attention and take action to what they like and what they would like to change. Bring their ideas for improving the work environment, to team meetings for everyone to discuss. Make sure each rep knows how important their individual ideas are to the success of the team.
The PACE Staffing Network is an expert in call center staffing, with a NETWORK of recruiters placing reps throughout the Greater Seattle business community. If you have an interest in learning more about some of the unique staffing programs we have done for local call centers, contact us at 425-637-3312 or e mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org