Leader in the contact centre - chess

3 Primary Responsibilities of Contact Centre Leaders

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Contact centre leaders and contact centre managers sound similar, but share very different responsibilities to those under them.

Did you know that a 2013 customer service survey by Deloitte found that 62 percent of organizations viewed customer service that was delivered through contact centres as a competitive differentiator? 

This figure is projected to rise as more businesses start seeing the benefits of customer care differentiation reflected in customer satisfaction and financial metrics. But what makes up a model, differentiated customer care support operation? There are plenty of factors, but the most important of them relate to the top of the food chain—your contact centre leader.

Strong leaders in the contact centre make all the difference for employee ability, organizational goal setting, and creating a reputation of quality. Of course, not all managers are capable of meeting these goals.

Think of it this way—all leaders are managers. But not all managers are leaders. Here are three responsibilities that all contact centre leaders must take on:

1. Bringing Out the Best In Your Team

What’s the difference between a manager and a leader?

The answer is simple—a manager delegates, and a leader motivates.

A run-of-the-mill manager hands off tasks to others while keeping their focus on their own work. Leaders, however, go beyond what’s required to bring out the best in their team. Leaders motivate agents to work harder and achieve more than they themselves realized they were capable of. Managers try to multitask and shoulder the burden of responsibility on their own, leaders understand that the contact centre is a team enterprise.

While there may have been a time where the contact centre’s leader was the end-all, be-all of decision making, customer service has grown too complex for this to remain the norm. With a variety of outreach channels to monitor, more complicated products to know about, and more advanced Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to manage, a team of well-trained agents is essential to contact centre success. Leaders understand this, and prepare their team accordingly to handle any challenge that comes their way.

2. Setting a Path for Success

So, what’s another trait of leaders that many managers are missing?

A lack of vision. Or, more accurately, a lack of vision and the inability to guide employees to achieve their goals.

Strong leaders have a clear vision for the future of their contact centre, and create detailed plans that help bring the team along for the ride. Do your goals involve improving performance metrics, like handle times or dropped chats? Are you working towards integrating multichannel outreach? Or are you prioritizing the customer experience? Poor leaders have a tendency to over manage, trying to achieve too much or failing to let employees reach goals on their own. Leaders find a balance between coaching and controlling. Managers dominate employees. Leaders make expectations clear, give employees the freedom to work on their own, and offer specific coaching and training when needed.

This doesn’t mean going easy on your staff—when mistakes happen, strong leadership is often necessary to right the ship. But leaders understand that chastising or taking out personal frustrations on employees achieves nothing. The path to contact centre success is paved with mutual respect and cooperation among all customer care staff.

3. Building a Legacy That Lasts

And what’s the last of our three leadership responsibilities in the contact centre?

Acknowledging that leadership is more than a means to direct employees. It’s not about being in charge.  Leadership is about seeing the big picture and constantly improving your customer experience.

Effective leadership builds on (and creates) long-standing values that support your contact centre over time. Business connections with customers. Positive word of mouth. A reputation of quality. These intangibles can’t be tracked like other essential contact centre metrics, but are no less important for helping your centre grow. Building a legacy of quality in the contact centre depends on success with our two above goals. Effective contact centre agents who have a clear path to success are critical to generating a reputation of quality. According to a 2015 customer service report by the Belding Group, 86 percent of positive word of mouth about your customer experience relates to an agent taking ownership of a situation.

Effective leaders take agency over their contact centres, and understand that every action contributes to the overall goal of a stronger service experience.

Managing Leadership

Managers who want to become leaders have responsibilities to their employees, their contact centres, and themselves.

Effective leaders understand that no man is an island when it comes to customer care. Agents need to perform, but without support from centre leaders who set clearly defined goals, contact centre success will be hard to reach. Leaders in search of a truly competitive customer care service must empower their teams, outline clear goals, and never forget that the contact centre is bigger than the sum of its parts.