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Develop Leadership Skills for the Contact Center

Learning objectives:

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  1. Build a culture of continuous improvement.
  2. Identify ways to measure core values.
  3. Develop a succession plan.

When you go from being a mid-level manager to leading a whole team, a lot changes—especially when you’re working in a dynamic environment like a contact center. This module is all about helping you develop skills that will make you a top-notch leader who can use your contact center experience to meet C-Suite expectations. What can you expect during this new phase of your career? We’ve teamed up with experts from Customer Contact Week, the leading forum for customer care, CX, and contact center management to offer insight. In this unit, we’ll discuss the difference between managing and leading. Then we’ll show you how to create a culture based on brand values that produces measurable results.

From Managing to Leading

When you're a manager and you get feedback from an executive, you know exactly what to do next because someone has told you what to do. Now that you’re in charge of the contact center, you’re expected to create that direction for yourself and your team. The best way to establish direction for your team is through prioritization. One of the new challenges you’re facing is having to tell people what you're not going to do. You have to avoid things that distract you from your goals and be comfortable saying “no.” Setting limits ensures that your team stays focused. 

As someone who’s risen from the ranks of mid-level management, you’re used to giving feedback to agents, but giving feedback to managers and other leaders is very different. In your new role, feedback is going to be much less specific. You’ll want to allow your team to continue to use its discretion, while trying to guide everyone toward the direction you would like them to go.

Build a Culture of Continuous Improvement

When you think about customer care and customer service, many of the challenges in the contact center are the result of outdated policies and inflexible culture. You have to be aware of the challenge this presents, especially when you’re new and you’re trying to improve things. To build a culture of continuous improvement, you have to make sure that you blame the process, not the people, when things go wrong. 

Part of being a strong leader is having a backup plan that you can use when your team needs to pivot. A good way to do that is through scenario planning. Think about how things could go wrong and decide what you will do in that scenario. Have one-year, two-year, and five-year planning exercises with your team and see what comes up. Sit down as a group and ask, "What happens if something changes? Let's say our volume goes up by 20 percent or down 20 percent what happens?” The important thing is to identify what needs to evolve and how you will continue to improve the contact center in the long term. A culture that truly drives continuous improvement stretches your team and eliminates employee pain points. It allows your organization to move rapidly and handle business volatility. 

Measure Core Values

Businesses usually have agreed-upon brand values, but those values play out differently among departments. Determining how you execute on those values in the contact center is a big part of your job as a leader. You have to make them relatable to everyone on your team. How do you take something very conceptual, like integrity, and translate it into something that’s measurable? This is something that you and your team can define together. For instance,  if your CSAT scores are high, that’s a good indication that your team has been delivering on brand promises (they’ve had integrity) because your customers are satisfied. Consider doing workshops to determine what values (integrity, respect, and trust) look like in the contact center and what KPIs you’d use to measure those values. 

Succession Planning

People change jobs frequently these days, especially in contact centers. Workers are moving from employer to employer in an effort to get ahead or to find a better working environment. High performers will stay at your company if they see a path forward for themselves. As a leader, it’s important to have a group of successful agents and managers to support growth and facilitate change. It's your job as the leader to make sure that a succession plan is in place. Identify agents who are management material, and find managers who would succeed as directors. Make those players part of the succession planning process.

Now that you’ve got some ideas for building and measuring culture, you’re ready to tackle one of the biggest challenges leaders face: finances. In the next unit, you’ll learn how to build upon your skills to develop financial leadership for the contact center.

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