Challenges impacting the credit and collections industry
Frank Sherlock, CallMiner's VP of International, explores how data and technology can help overcome challenges faced in the credit and collections ind...
The Team at CallMiner
February 02, 2018
Call center managers are tasked with myriad responsibilities, and they maintain responsibility for ensuring that they are running a call center operation smoothly and efficiently. With managers often having large staffs of call center representatives to manage, regulatory call center compliance requirements to address, customer satisfaction to uphold, sales targets to hit, and more, it’s no surprise that call center managers often find themselves awake at night thinking about these and other concerns.
Call centers often deal with high turnover. This attrition isn’t only agents and reps. Many times, management level employees leave fairly quickly. Reducing turnover, especially of the most knowledgeable staff is vital to creating a well-run facility — making this a top concern among many in the industry.
The skillset of your team will make or break the call center. Proper training of both reps and leadership allows for:
Customer service is a high-level worry among managers. Often, this fear is due to multiple factors, including:
Great technology, used correctly, improves the processes of a call center while relieving much of the pressure on managers. On the other hand, the same tech causes tension and potential problems which make those same leaders worry.
Some of these issues include:
Learn how interaction analytics can help your company reduce agent attrition and solve other common call center management challenges by downloading our white paper, Understanding How Interaction Analytics Can Reduce Agent Attrition.
But what are the biggest issues facing today’s call center leaders? To gain some insight into the most pressing concerns weighing on the minds of call center managers today, we reached out to a panel of call center leaders and asked them to answer this question:
Meet Our Panel of Call Center Managers and Experts
Read on to learn what our experts have to say about the most pressing concerns keeping call center managers up at night. Nate Masterson @MapleHolistics
Nate Masterson is the Marketing Manager for Maple Holistics.
“The one thing that should be keeping call center managers up at night is…”
The development of AI which could eventually replace traditional call center employees. There are a lot of day-to-day problems and concerns that plague the call center business model, but none threaten its very existence like the development of artificial intelligence. AI and robotics are gradually replacing the more menial workers in businesses across a large number of industries, and in theory it is only a matter of time before computers become intelligent enough to conduct phone conversations with customers in the same manner that a call center representative could.
There is no genuine solution to this problem. It is an inevitability when you consider the current rate of technological progression in the world. Perhaps some companies will always favor the personal touch, but cost effectiveness may prove too tempting to ignore for most. Linda Parry Murphy
Linda Parry Murphy, Esq. is the Chief Executive Officer at Unscripted.
“One thing keeping many call center managers up at night is…”
Are you generating enough results for your clients? It doesn’t matter if you call or email every contact on the list. The only thing clients care about is if your calls and emails are breaking through, eliciting a response and piquing the interest of the prospect on the other end. And if you’re not generating leads and related sales, then you need to breakdown the strategy and find out where along the continuum you’re losing interest.
If your calls are getting hung up on and your emails are being ignored, it’s time for a new script. If every prospect says not for me, perhaps they’re the wrong target. Maybe you need to find a different title and hand research a better list. And if you feel as though a warmer approach needs to be taken, you might want to prime the prospect for your call by mailing them an unconventional gift in advance. Reuben Kats
Reuben Katz is the Web Design Sales Engineer /Customer Service/ Account Manager at GrabResults, LLC.
“One of my pet peeves is…”
When fraudulent activity is going on and I don’t know what is going on. All I hear is the customer complaining and threating me that they will leave a bad review with the BBB. I had to use Clear Sale, just to be safe. There were many times in the past that the company would ship out items; however, they would get charge backs so they lost both money and product. This was hell for me when I had to find out whether this person was lying to me the whole time. Cara Silletto @CrescendoHR
Workforce thought leader Cara Silletto, MBA, is the President & Chief Retention Officer at Crescendo Strategies. She works with organizations to reduce employee turnover by making managers more effective in their roles. Workforce Magazine named her a Game Changer and she was in Recruiter.com’s Top 10 Company Culture Experts to Watch. Her 2018 book is Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave & How to Keep Them Longer.
“Staffing stability is the number one thing call center managers should think about and prioritize today…”
With the power shifting from employers to employees over the past several years, organizations who will survive the talent battle and remain sustainable companies moving forward are those who train their managers and supervisors to understand the mindset of today’s new workforce and change their leadership approach over time. Employee expectations have evolved dramatically and managers must keep up with these internal customers’ needs if they want to keep the people they need to provide excellent customer service. Joshua Feinberg @joshua_feinberg
Joshua Feinberg helps CEOs identify new revenue growth opportunities. In addition to helping small business CEOs with revenue growth and digital strategy goals, Joshua is a speaker, podcaster, analyst, and Chief Thought Leader at SP Home Run.
“I think a lot of the answer depends on whether the call center focuses on inbound or outbound calls…”
If outbound calling accounts for a significant percentage of monthly revenue, it may be time to diversify, like yesterday.
In a digital-first world, especially in B2B, everyone looks at caller ID before answering phone calls. In many offices, phones are even disappearing from desks. Softphones and online meeting tools have completely changed many companies’ outlook on the value of traditional landline phones.
And by now, most are well aware that call centers use local phone number spoofing to infer proximity and improve connect rates.
With today’s buyer journey, many business influencers and decision makers use search engines and social media to do all of their upfront research. As a result, it’s quite common to find that as much as 70% of their decision making is already done before the modern buyer wants to speak to anyone in a sales role.
On top of that, entire industries have been born out of consumers rebelling against interruption marketing (like cold calls). Satellite radio. Streaming video subscriptions, Digital video recorders. Adblocker software. Smartphones automatically identifying spam calls. It’s all scratching the same itch: people are tired of getting interrupted and are literally paying money to keep the interruptions out. Selective consumption is all about getting 100% of what you want, no more no less, exactly when you want it, on your own terms.
So if I were managing a call center, I wouldn’t be (that) worried about my direct and indirect competition in other call centers. I’d worry about my entire business model being disrupted by the next SiriusXM, Uber, Netflix, or Amazon. Patricia Fox @unicomcorp
Patricia Fox is the founder of Unicom Teleservices, a 24/7 call center based in Chicago, IL that helps organizations increase productivity and customer satisfaction.
“Each call center faces unique challenges based on their size and types of customers they serve…”
One challenge that keeps call center managers up at night, specifically for centers supporting multiple industries, is having the right people, in the right seat, at the right time. When a call center is supporting multiple industries or offering a variety of tailored solutions, it becomes more difficult to have the right people available to manage these calls.
As an example, if the call center is providing simple appointment setting services, most agents will be able to handle this task. But if the call center is also offering tech support for a product, will those same agents be able to provide adequate support to the caller?
Good managers overcome this by not only hiring the right people but investing in training to strengthen their team’s capabilities. In addition, managers should use both qualitative and quantitative data to help guide them to create a better experience for their clients and the teams they look over. Ryan Alovis @RyanAlovis
Ryan Alovis is the CEO at The Stella Group.
“Finding and keeping great people is no easy task…”
As a premier outsourced contact center company, we need to be the ultimate sports coach, 24/7 – which means we’re constantly pushing our team through difficult moments (bursts, training, educating, etc.). Alex Birkett @iamalexbirkett
Alex Birkett is a Growth Marketing Manager at HubSpot. He lives in Austin, Texas, and likes digital analytics, business optimization, and traveling.
“Call center managers need to be constantly working towards…”
Treating customer support less as a business cost and more of an investment. Yes, you should be treating it as a growth lever, one that can significantly help you differentiate in crowded markets and create customer advocates instead of just leaving your customers satisfied.
Tactics here can probably include the traditional way of looking at things: how can you churn through more issues in less time? But it also includes proactive measures such as thinking about where your customers want answers and even how you can help them find them by themselves (i.e., how can you optimize your knowledge base to help customers help themselves?). When you look at things this way, really looking at things proactively and reactively, you can pull more resources and invest in a better customer experience. Ryan Stewman @ryanstewman
Ryan Stewman is the CEO of Break Free Academy.
“The one thing that should be keeping call center managers up at night is…”
The fact that 93% of all phone calls go unanswered.
Call centers are a dying business UNLESS they convert to inbound calls.
The marketplace is done with cold calls, strangers bothering them, and interruptions from salespeople.
Every single call center owner I know talks about the good old days coming back. Bad news: They ain’t coming back and are actually moving further away.
The market hates cold calls, doesn’t respect call centers, and it’s only a matter of time before that industry converts to inbound leads or dies off. Danielle Minges @LogisticsPlus
Danielle Minges is the Fulfillment Client Relations Manager for Logistics Plus Inc., a leading worldwide provider of transportation, logistics, warehousing, fulfillment, and supply chain solutions.
“I would say the thing that keeps me up at night regarding the call center is really the staff…”
A call center is fully dependent on having friendly, knowledgeable people answering calls. For our call center, we have a very diverse group of clients which in turn creates a very diverse customer base, and our agents have to be able to connect with the person at the other end of the call. Ensuring that my agents are well trained, friendly, helpful, and giving accurate information is my biggest concern. Liz Watson @ASPCAPetIns
Liz, the CMO at Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group, is a dynamic professional with progressive experience (25+ years) in product and brand management, developing communication strategies for internal stakeholders and leading and motivating high performance sales and service teams to advance key initiatives.
“There seems to be a growing aversion among consumers to use the phone as their preferred method of contact…”
Chalk it up to generational differences or advancements in technology, but whatever the reason, it worries me that we’re at risk of losing that personal, one-on-one interaction. Believe me, we’re making every effort to replicate the experience using digital methods. But it’s really difficult to convey things like empathy and emotion in chat or other text-based messages. When our agents are on the phone with someone, that can truly have a lasting, positive impact. Ryan Brogan @GonzoBanker
Ryan Brogan is a senior consultant in Cornerstone Advisors‘ Performance Solutions group. Ryan specializes in contact center performance improvement and strategy for banks and credit unions across the country. He is also a contributor to GonzoBanker.
“Fraud should be keeping call center managers up at night…”
Representatives are given the near-impossible task of properly authenticating customers and remaining vigilant against social engineering attempts all while communicating a level of trust and delivering excellent service. For many call centers, critical data, including call history and account information, is disjointed and stored in silos. On top of that, the systems that reps use most frequently are typically unintegrated, leading to more potential points of failure. Call centers are the front line against fraud, and managers are justifiably concerned about their ability to keep up with increasingly sophisticated attacks. Don Calhoun @CthruMedia
Don Calhoun has been working in call centers for more than twenty years. He is the Director of Lead Generation for cThru Media. His focus on building strong teams that perform well allows him to create effective lead generation teams.
“Your team’s morale should be keeping you up at night…”
Working on a cold call or customer service-centric account can create rough days of constant no’s, hang-ups, and angry phone calls which can wear on your team. The cost of replacing and training new team members is a heavy burden that can be slowed with great team care. Implementing weekly lunches, daily SPIFF, and sincere support can make all the difference in team morale and slow the constant revolving door of call centers. Jaspar Weir @JasparWeir
Jaspar Weir is co-founder and president of TaskUs, a provider of outsourcing services with offices in the U.S. and the Philippines. Inc Magazine named Weir to its 30 under 30 group of executives to watch. Weir is also a two-time finalist for EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
“The biggest thing that should be keeping call center managers up at night is…”
Are they treating their employees right? This question should be central to any service provider whose success depends on the quality of their workforce. The question focuses not so much on whether workers have resources to do their jobs but more on the working environment, including benefits. Do workers feel inspired or are they weighed down and looking to exit the firm. The failure to retain skilled workers costs firms in lost productivity and the need to refill positions repeatedly.
Call centers have historically high turnover rates. In a 2017 survey by the trade publication Contact Center Pipeline, call center leaders said turnover was their biggest challenge. A 2016 survey by the consultancy Mercer cited inflexible working conditions and few opportunities for development or career growth as root causes.
At TaskUs, we found that workers who were enthusiastic about our company on the quarterly employee satisfaction survey we ask them to complete were 27% more likely to stay with the firm and 18% more productive. These types of statistics should serve as motivation for organizations to consider such issues as the very spaces where people work, scheduling and the messaging both obvious and implicit that demonstrates their commitment and appreciation. An organization that shows that it values employees will possess a stronger brand and perform better financially. Bob Clary @DevIntelligence
Bob Clary is the Director of Marketing at DevelopIntelligence.
“The biggest thing keeping call center managers up at night is…”
Turnover. Unhappy CSRs means that staff turnover is high, which means you’ll spend a disproportionate amount of your time training reps who are inexperienced. This leads to a high burnout rate, and end customers who do not feel like their needs are being met. Vincent Paquet @vpaquet
Vincent Paquet is the Chief Product Officer at Dialpad.
“It’s actually pretty difficult to narrow down the issues call center managers face…”
As I like to think of a call center as a living and breathing organization with many different inputs, outputs, and daily challenges unique to the mix of product, people and customer dynamics.
Here at Dialpad, we’ve spent the better part of a year focused on developing our Call Center
functionality to help solve what we see as a call center manager’s main pain point – how do I make employees more productive and have a complete view of their productivity and customer communications?
Our initial answer seemed pretty simple – build one single communication platform that integrates with other vital applications call center representatives already use, like Salesforce and Zendesk. But as we built our platform, we realized we were missing an extremely robust data analytics tool that would allow managers to view and track their sales or support organization’s full body of communication work down to a granular level.
Managers can now view every employee’s productivity level, integration use, and amount of time spent handling each customer call. Once call center managers have valuable insights, they can make more informed decisions around scaling and provisioning for busy periods, like the holiday season. Brady Ranum @dizzion
Brady Ranum is VP of Products and Strategy at Dizzion, a cloud delivered desktop and end user computing solutions provider.
“Data security with work at home agents should be keeping contact center managers up at night…”
Particularly if the agents use their own personal devices (BYOD). You don’t really know what an at-home agent does with their device, and even if the contact center ships the agent a laptop, they have very little control over that device once it leaves their office or warehouse. Making sure that device and the software on it remains updated and patched is just the tip of the iceberg. Contact center managers should also be worried about how home agents are handling – and potentially saving – customer data if the right security controls and measures aren’t in place to prohibit high risk actions like screen printing or external saving. Randi Busse @RandiBusse
Randi Busse is a Customer Service Speaker, Trainer and Author of Turning Rants Into Raves: Turn Your Customers On Before They Turn On YOU! She is the President of Workforce Development Group, Inc., a training and development organization that specializes in improving the customer experience, increasing customer retention, and creating a culture of ownership among employees.
“The one thing that should be keeping call center managers up at night is…”
Wondering if their employees are engaged. Are they emotionally committed to helping make their company successful? Creating a culture of ownership means changing employee attitudes from, “I do it because I have to,” into one that takes pride in going above and beyond to make customers feel special.
A culture of ownership also means having employees thinking like an owner of a business as opposed to a renter. These employees deliver great service, understand the relationship between their behaviors and the success of the business, and understand their accountability for delivering a high quality of customer service. These employees interact with customers and will never say, “It’s not my job, it’s not my department, and they don’t pay me to do that.” They will also focus his/her energy on making the business successful, realizing they in turn will become successful as well. Jeannette Seibly @bizsavvycoach
Jeannette Seibly is an award-winning international business advisor & author, who has helped hundreds achieve million-dollar results, and three millionaires.
“One thing that should be keeping call center managers up at night is…”
Turnover. It costs time, money, energy, and potential customers. Call centers normally have the highest turnover in business today.
They use non-qualified assessments to weed out people. They fail to understand job fit and the importance of ensuring the person has the interest and will learn the skills required. Good employees leave.
Cristian Rennella is the CEO & CoFounder of oMelhorTrato.com.
“The most important thing that should keep call center managers awake at night is…”
What you can do to decrease the turnover of your employees, especially those who are quality and have a good closing percentage in sales.
The answer to: “How can I do to keep my best employees motivated and committed?” is the key that distinguishes successful call center managers. Andrea Raimondi @ClanwilliamIRL
Andrea Raimondi serve as Senior Developer for Clanwilliam Health, a software house developing products across the drug spectrum (consumer pharmacies, hospital ones, GPs, etc.).
“What should keep them awake at night is social engineering…”
Or the ability of unauthorized actors to impersonate somebody of authority to gain an advantage, for example access to sensitive information. This is a far more common threat than it’s usually considered because nobody will pay attention through the grind.
In other words, if I pretend to be the U.S. President, I could gain access for myself to otherwise precluded areas.
Call center managers: what’s keeping you up at night, and how do you address these concerns?