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Skills Needed by Call-Center Supervisors

A chart listing both people skills and operational skills.

January 30, 2004
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Related Topics: Training & Development
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In all too many situations, specific call-center training ends at the frontline staff level.

    In surveys done over the past couple of years, The Call Center School has found that over 80 percent of supervisors in call centers today were moved into their positions from frontline agent jobs. While most new supervisors receive training on general supervisory skills, only about 20 percent of these supervisors receive any additional advanced call-center operational training.

    Below is a checklist of the various knowledge and skills needed by supervisors in today’s call centers--in addition to general supervisory and leadership skills.

People Management

Operations Management

Organizational Structure/Teams:

Can they describe the different types of organizational options and team structures? These include options such as flat structures vs. more bureaucratic systems, as well as organizing staff by types of call, geographic coverage or skill levels. The point is whether supervisors know what the organizational possibilities are and what would work best for their particular kind of environment.

Call Routing and Reports:

Do they understand telephone system settings and how they’re used? Do they know what reports are available, and how to retrieve and use them?

Recruiting, Screening, Hiring:

Can they outline job descriptions and hiring criteria? Interview and screen effectively?

Call Forecasting:

Do they know how the forecast is created? Do they know what factors influence it and how staffing is affected by various factors?

Training and Assessment:

Can they effectively assess new and existing staff skills, identify gaps and recommend necessary training?

Staffing Calculations:

Do they understand the tradeoffs of service, productivity and cost when more employees are added to take customer calls?

Staff Retention:

Do they understand all the factors that lead to staff turnover and how they can contribute to improved retention?

Scheduling Solutions:

Are they aware of how schedules get created and what types of short-term and long-term solutions are available?

Setting Performance Standards:

Can they create/update qualitative standards that are measurable, objective and that can be used to track employees’ performance?

Call-Center Performance Measures:

Do they understand what call-center measures need to be in place to support corporate objectives?

Measuring and Diagnosing Performance:

Do they know how to objectively measure performance and how to diagnose problems to create improvement plans?

Call Delivery and Networking:

Do they know how things can go wrong in the network and how to react?

Coaching, Monitoring and Counseling:

Do they understand the difference between these three things, and can they apply proven principles of coaching and counseling for call-center issues?

Call-Center Technologies:

Do they understand how to use all of the center’s technologies to manage staff effectively?

Motivation Techniques:

Do they understand how to identify what motivates staff and how to implement motivation programs in the call center?

Call-Center Math:

Do they understand the numbers (the wide array of call-center performance statistics and reporting systems available) and how to apply them in managing service levels and staff performance?

Workplace Design:

Do they understand the basic elements of effective workplace design and how to make changes for improved productivity?

Staffing Alternatives:

Do they understand the various staffing options that may be used, such as outsourcing, telecommuting or contracting?

Source: Penny Reynolds, The Call Center School.

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