If you are looking to outsource your company’s contact center services to save money and improve performance, it’s important to examine the provider’s contact center management structure, from the top manager to the team leaders who have day-to-day contact with agents.
Most contact center service providers, such as DATAMARK, commonly follow a business model requiring supervision over a minimum number of agents—typically at least 20 for the model to be high performing and cost effective. Those in supervisory roles include trainers who participate in the onboarding process, and team leaders who provide ongoing coaching to agents.
A healthy management cycle develops when agents eventually develop into team leaders themselves. The need for excellent training and coaching explains why providers shy away from outsourcing deals involving small numbers of agents. Given the requirement for excellent management and supervision, it doesn’t make sense to add just a handful of seats to the contact center facility from a cost and performance perspective.
Depending on the type of contact center services provided, the ratio of team leaders to agents can vary widely. Industry studies show that top-performing contact centers will have somewhere between 8 and 15 agents per team leader, with a 1:15 ratio not uncommon.
With this understanding of the supervisory environment found in providers of outsourced contact center services, let’s look at five qualities of top performing team leaders:
- Trained to coach:
Agents who are promoted to team leader are often recognized for their excellent customer service skills, problem-solving abilities and knowledge of contact center processes. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they will immediately be excellent coaches. Team leaders need specialized training in the art of agent coaching. Coaching requires outstanding one-on-one communication skills, the ability to develop performance improvement plans for agents and to provide feedback in a consistent and timely manner.
- An ability to motivate:
A team leader understands the nature of contact center work and knows how agents are motivated through the traditional levers of pay, bonuses, incentives, contests, perks, etc. Top-performing team leaders get creative when it comes to agent motivation: It could be encouraging an agent to pursue a certain career path with the organization; identifying and addressing early signs of burnout by changing an agent’s schedule or assigning work that fits well with an agent’s interests and skillset, for example.
- Analytics expertise:
Effective team leaders will use measurable and objective standards to monitor the performance of their agents. Contact center KPIs such as average time in queue, average speed of answer, average handle time and average after-call work time offer team leaders a wealth of information for identifying performance issues. Team leaders take advantage of current contact center management software platforms, which present KPIs in a dashboard format, making it easier to identify trends and map out improvement plans.
- An ability to focus and prioritize:
Call volumes change rapidly for any number of reasons, from special promotions launched by company headquarters, holiday and seasonal demand, to unexpected events that cause service outages. Team leaders find themselves pulled in different directions, with responsibilities for multiple assignments and projects. Top-performing team leaders can prioritize urgent projects while keeping agent performance in their sights. Once again, the leader-to-agent ratio becomes important here. Contact center supervisors should strive to maintain the best ratio for performance and cost management.
- Caring and sharing:
Building a strong relationship with the team begins with showing that you care about their performance and strive to help them excel and advance as agents. Good team leaders are eager to share the path to success by clearly explaining the organization’s goal metrics, and by providing continuous coaching so that agents understand how to achieve these goals.