Position Call Center Management for Success With A Call Center Curriculum

Darryl Flores

Are supervisors picking up call center management training in drips and drabs?

Gone are the days when call center management could just be specialists in the call center business. Today, they’re called upon to be business subject matter experts, team leaders, motivators, counselors, mentors, access channel experts, schedulers, complaint handlers, incentive providers, recognition experts, forecasters and communicators of the company’s mission, among other things. Having said that, consider the type of training with which most centers arm their supervisors. In most cases, we just look at the business training and furnish them with only the skills to handle escalation calls.

Many times, supervisors are promoted from within; we select the best agent to be the next supervisor. They are the leaders of your customer service staff and the "voice" of your company—but have you equipped them with more than a Stephen Covey book?

Invest in the future of your company by giving new and upcoming supervisors a thorough understanding of how to run an effective and efficient call center—from communication skills to Erlang C.

Planning the Call Center Curriculum

Developing a call center curriculum may seem like a daunting task, but if you break it down into bits and pieces, it can be accomplished. For instance, an initial step would be to engage your training department to work with you in developing a map for call center management to follow. Be sure to break it up into modules that allow call center representatives 12 to 18 months to complete the curriculum.

Work with your training department to come up with a list of topics. For instance, possible call center training topics could include:

  • Forecasting and ccheduling
  • Understanding Metrics and Reporting
  • Workforce Management
  • Communicating with call center representatives
  • Motivating call center representatives
  • Customer Relationship Management (concept and/or technology)

Follow up by conducting information-sharing sessions with your call center management to get their input. Make sure the training map you develop provides consistent development in all key areas of call center management. Also, consider future call center training needs. The call center curriculum must be expandable and allow the ability to add new training sessions as they become necessary in the call center. Who knows? In 20 years you might need to train your call center management how to efficiently teleport to a customer’s home to handle a customer complaint.

If you’re worried that your company doesn’t have topic experts on staff who can provide the training, keep in mind that it doesn’t all have to be conducted in an instructor/student environment. There are other opportunities for call center management training, such as industry conferences, seminars, Web seminars, white papers and books.

Build It and They Will Come

Once you’ve developed an initial course map, gather a team of analysts, consultants, supervisors, trainers and agents to do a gap analysis. Have the team figure out where opportunities lie and then proceed to prioritize them. Which training topics will give you the biggest return in the quickest amount of time? Is scheduling a sore subject? Are your forecast/actual variances closer to the temperature outside as opposed to just few percentage points? Have the team list the top five training opportunities for your supervisors, and then determine the best way to deliver these lessons. Then get started. Select a pilot team to undergo the training and act as a focus group to review and modify the curriculum.

Knowledge Is Power in Your Call Center

Once your call center curriculum is in place and supervisors begin to complete the training, you’ll discover additional benefits. Besides a consistent level of call center management, a sense of unity will develop among call center management and call center representatives who undergo the training—all of whom are working toward the same goal with a sound base of knowledge to contribute to the realization of that goal. That’s an immense return on the time and effort used to gather and share information in the call center. And let’s not forget the well-known adage: Knowledge is power.

First published in the Call Center Management Review.