The 5 Biggest Challenges for Call Center Managers

The call center is one of the world’s toughest work environments, and I’m shocked it didn’t make CareerCast’s most stressful jobs list. Having to deal with angry customers, strict work schedules, penny-pinching upper management, and super high expectations are just some of the things that can make it a living hell.

Undoubtedly not for the weak at heart, some call center managers have the grace and tenacity to handle the extreme pressure and create an experience that pleases customers without exceeding dwindling budgets, a truly remarkable feat.

“What are the 5 biggest challenges managers face in the call center?” I posed this question to members of the Contact Center Operations and Management group on LinkedIn.

Have a read through their honest (and candid) comments below.

1. Agent Recruitment and Retention

Cited as the biggest challenge by nearly all respondents, the call center is notorious for being a difficult place to work, and makes attracting and retaining quality customer service representatives a tough undertaking.

“I think the number one challenge is finding a way to adapt the call center environment to be appealing to the new generation of workforce. Millenials love flexibility and most call centers have very little of that.”
Juliet Carnelia

“Improving the screening/hiring of staff so that the right folks get on the bus and fight the temptation to fill the chairs with whomever applies.”
Hilario Fuentes

“Finding, hiring, and motivating contact center staff to consistently deliver an “awe-inspiring” customer experience.”
Larry Streeter

“It’s getting harder to attract and keep the Gen Y workforce and meet their expectations and demands.”
Bryan Socransky

“Hiring and retaining of top performing supervisors and coaches. They have the power to make or break a call center.”
Lark Will

“Utilizing supervisors to effectively develop their agents.”
Kevin Gulbransen

2. Doing More with Less

Unfortunately, call centers are still viewed as cost centers by most executives. It’s an uphill battle as managers are expected to maintain service levels despite diminishing budgets.

“Many companies have cut call center budgets as they view this as a cost center. Call center managers are forced to deliver the same service levels with less people and the same old infrastructure from 2001.”
Bryan Socransky

“Determining where to allocate budget and resources. Identifying, quantifying and prioritizing opportunities from both an operational and strategic perspective represent a significant challenge for any contact center manager.”
Trish Paterson

3. Reporting

With so many separate systems and technologies jumbled together in most call center environments, getting accurate and consistent reporting poses a colossal challenge.

“Tracking the reasons why customers are calling in, whether to purchase specific products, book specific appointments, complaints, etc.”
Jeane Landau

“Helping executive teams understand that WHY customers call and the need to address those issues are far more important than metrics such as abandon rate and handle time.”
Kevin Carly

“Another challenge is poor call center routing and poor statistics. Quite often, call center managers do not know that routing is ineffective. What is worse, call centers often get inaccurate reporting on call statistics and also do not know about it.”
Anthony Shteyn

4. Increasing Customer Expectations

Higher customer expectations, reshaped by social media channels such as Twitter and increased business competition, has made it even harder to satisfy callers.

“Customers expect better service (lower ASA, better AHT, better FCR) and new ways to interact (multi-channel: SMS, social media, chat, email, etc…)”
Bryan Socransky

“Dealing with the changes brought about by social media.”
Larry Streeter

5. Consequences of Bad Experiences are Magnified

When customers are ticked off from a bad phone support experience, they react in ways that can be disastrous to a company’s reputation. Onholdwith.com is a Twitter-based site that tracks thousands of customer complaints related to hold times.

“Customers are increasingly empowered by social media to publicize any bad customer service experiences.”
Bryan Socransky

I’d like to thank everyone from the Contact Center Operations and Management group on LinkedIn for their responses.

What other challenges do call center managers face? Share your thoughts below.


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