Call centre staff really are adults

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. As call centre workingpractices are called into question, Megan Peppin looks at managing this growthareaIt is 2001 – yet how can someorganisations treat their employees with no feelings or intelligence? The TUC telephonehotline set up to highlight bad working practices in call centres received 600calls in two weeks. Military-like measures are put in place by some employersto manage sickness, attendance and almost minute-by-minute productivitymonitoring (News, 27 February). In my experience from managing call centres inthe past, some of these examples are real. It seems that managers in bigorganisations often think call centres ought to be managed differently fromother areas of business. But I would argue that good management practice isgood management practice in whatever environment people work and that callcentres do not need to be treated uniquely.The problem often starts with callcentre managers and how they are targeted. Often managers have set targets toachieve service levels that are not necessarily a relevant measure of successand may not be within the control of that manager.When this happens, the manager’senergies become deflected into a numbers game, counting hours and minutesworked and calls per person without considering the efficacy of the measuresand activity. “Bums on seats” becomes the primary task with analarming focus on productivity management. As the cycle continues, sicknessincreases, retention plummets and what management could be available to spendwith individuals is then concentrated on absence management, recruitment andbasic training. Clearly, this leaves no time for any targeted, quality traininginitiatives that could grow the business.First-line managers in call centresare often recruited from the team because of qualities such as individualcapability and maturity. This does not always lead to effective managers ifthey are not committed to developing their people and business. How do we evaluate their readinessand real commitment to management, a role that requires emotional maturity andcommitment more than intimate job knowledge or systems knowledge? Addinexperienced and poorly trained first line managers and inexperienced staff tothe operations manager who has targets that are all numbers, and it is obvioushow dysfunction begins to occur. Some guidelines that can be appliedto any call centre include:– Build management targets aroundareas managers can influence, for example individual productivity targets,staff retention, conversion rates of calls to sales, training hours delivered.– Make sure the staff to first linemanagement ratio is right to deliver quality results through motivated staff –sustainable results cannot be delivered with 1:15 management:staff ratios thatexist in so many call centres.– Develop productivity measuresthat can be used for individual development. For example, person A may talklonger than the average time to customers but is this a bad thing if the levelof referred calls or complaints is non-existent?– Let staff be individuals and givethem responsibility. Many call centres encourage staffto design and manage their own shifts or lunch rotas and provide opportunitiesto rotate jobs and treat their staff as adults. Both staff and managers canhave enriched and constructive working experience within call centres.This approach takes courage andsponsorship by senior management, and can be summed up simply – ensure callcentre staff have the same working conditions as yourself and they will deliverthe numbers.Megan Peppin is HRmanager at reinsurance company GeneralCologne Re. Her experience includes callcentre management in the financial services industry Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Call centre staff really are adultsOn 6 Mar 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more