Do You Have Supervisors or Super-Agents?

The first thing that I notice when walking into a contact center is the visual layout and then the busy hum of all those lovely agent interactions with customers.

Supervisors are an important part of that “hum” so I like to see what they are doing:

  • Are any out on the floor working with agents?
  • Are they locked in their cubicle staring at their computer monitor?
  • Are they taking calls and if so, what type of calls are they handling?
  • Are agents lined up outside their cubicle waiting to talk with them?

Center managers promote agents to a supervisory role with leadership expectations for them in addition to a variety of other duties.  Despite these leadership expectations, some managers have supervisors constantly acting as “super-agents”.  I call them this because they are treated as part-time leaders, part time phone agents.

The supervisors I’m talking about have reporting, coaching and motivational goals but in actuality, spend a lot of time daily taking regular (not just escalated) customer calls from the queue.  These are often smaller centers without a quality team or person to monitor and coach so guess what they aren’t doing in addition to leading their team to success.

The managers who encourage this “super-agent” role will tell me that they need the supervisors on the phone to help keep abandonment rate down due to the large call volume fluctuations. When I ask them about coaching, many of these same managers will tell me “It will have to wait for now”.

In this time of “lean” hiring where added agents may be tough, the challenge is to keep your Supervisors doing what they are supposed to be doing: lead, coach and motivate their team.

What can be done to keep your Supervisors focused on their teams’ needs?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make sure you have effective workforce scheduling processes and check agent schedule adherence. When is that last time you’ve reviewed/revised your related processes?
  • Encourage supervisors to do active coaching and stop seeing it as a time eater since the results will bring better call control (more calls handled) and fewer escalated calls.
  • Use technology to monitor and maximize agents’ time during idle times.  Coach, motivate, and schedule meetings with them when time is best.
  • Actively coach with your Supervisor on how to balance their daily workflow to achieve best results.

Your Supervisors may still have to roll up their sleeves and take calls in queue sometimes times, but if this is their primary focus lately, you will find both agent and customer engagement going downhill in no time.

 

About the author

Since 1983, Melissa has partnered with Contact Centers and Retail Teams to help them develop strategies, operational processes and skills to successfully blend People, Process and Technology for Customer Experience success.

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Comments (1)

  • I’ve been working in a call center for quite a while now, and I agree. There were times where the supervisor takes the role of a super agent. It’s actually not a big issue if it’s done only when necessary. We should also take into account the prevailing issues that causes our supervisor to take the role of the agents. One as you mentioned is the staffing of our agents, if we have enough agents on the floor, then we don’t have to force our supervisors to take calls. Another problem is if our leaders on the floor has the ability to predict the call flow and if everything goes wrong, will they be able to show flexibility and provide real-time solutions. Software plays a very important part too in helping us handle and generate productivity on the floor. If we think about it, there’s so much that needs fixing for us to be able to provide a great customer service.

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