Someone asked the other day if we thought they should hold their call center supervisors accountable for the performance of their teams. This is a complicated question. Poor team performance can be due to a number of issues:
- The agents don't have the knowledge or skills required to perform the job.
The agents can perform the job, but choose not to.
The supervisors don't have the skills required to motivate and inspire their team to top performance and they don't have the authority to take corrective action.
The supervisors do have the skills and authority but don't use them.
When agents and supervisors don't have the proper skills, training is usually the answer, although poor hiring may also be a factor. Call center supervisors are often promoted from the agent ranks and unless they've had training or had a great mentor, my observation is that they tend to supervise as they were parented. As you can imagine, this doesn't always work well when managing adults!
So if you want to hold your supervisors accountable for results, you need to give them a trained team that is willing to do the job, equip them with the skills to lead and motivate their teams, and give them the authority to take corrective action if required.
If you want a top performing call center, however, we suggest you take this a step further. Just like you have a supervisor to help an agent who is not performing up to standard, you should have a person (or team of people) to help supervisors who are not performing up to standard. Whether you call these people master coaches, performance support specialists, or the help squad, they function the same. When a team is not meeting standard in terms of call quality or metrics such as call resolution, talk time, etc., a master coach works with the supervisor to identify where the problem is, put together a plan to correct it, and coach the supervisor as he or she implements the plan.
We've helped a number of organizations create similar programs. At IEHP, the teams of supervisors who received this type of coaching scored 37.5% higher on overall monitoring scores than the control group. One Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan implemented a simliar progrma throughout their call center and moved their accuracy scores from 25th place among all plans to 12th.
Would this coach-the-coach concept work in your call center?