The role of supervisor in a contact center is a challenging one, but if done right, a very rewarding position. For many agents, becoming a supervisor is the next step in their career. In fact, our data indicates that 80% of contact center supervisors started as an agent. Becoming a supervisor is also an excellent intermediary step to becoming a manager, as many of the skills a manager needs overlap with the skills a supervisor needs. So what exactly are the skills needed to be a successful supervisor?
In this article, we'll explore the 7 skills acquired by a successful contact center supervisor.
1. A good supervisor manages performance
An agent is responsible for his or her own performance (something that could be influenced directly). But a supervisor, in the end, is accountable for the performance of his or her team members (which can only be influenced indirectly).
In order to manage performance, a supervisor needs to be able to define what performance means and how it can be measured objectively. A clear understanding of common contact center metrics needs to be present; how they are calculated, what influences a certain metric and what this metric can tell you about your team's performance. With this foundational skill in place, a supervisor should use these performance metrics to identify individual performance problems and start diagnosing root causes.
Only then can a supervisor start working on improving team performance in a targeted way, by coaching and/or motivating the team members that need it most.
2. A good supervisor is a great coach
The role of an agent doesn't come without challenges. The volume of calls, the switching between channels, handling difficult customers, caring for your voice, handling multiple concurrent chats, etc. Especially for new agents, this can be overwhelming, but a good coach can make all the difference.
But what is a good coach? A good coach knows what kind of coaching to apply in a specific situation and for a specific person. A good coach can communicate effectively during coaching sessions and a good coach can set up an extensive mentoring program that supports the employee's development.
Nobody is born a good coach. Coaching is a skill that is learned by both acquiring theoretical knowledge and gathering practical experience.
3. A good supervisor is an excellent motivator
Let's be honest here. Most contact center agents probably didn't dream about becoming a contact center agent when they were a child. But then again, that is the case for most jobs (other than pilots and doctors). The job of an agent can be an excellent career starter. Agents learn all kinds of skills that can support them in their career and even in their personal life. And it can be highly rewarding to help customers and sometimes even make their day!
However, that's not always how agents look at their role. And honestly, after an exceptionally difficult call with an outrageous customer, it is only human to question one's impact and lose motivation. And that's where a good supervisor comes into play. A good supervisor has a sixth sense for spotting these moments and being there for his team as a motivator.
A good supervisor motivates by providing guidance and support, recognizing and rewarding performance, adding fun to the workplace, and creating a safe environment where employees can learn from their mistakes.
4. A good supervisor is well organized
Supporting a team and helping them achieve great things to a high degree depends on how you organize the team. A good supervisor knows they can't do everything alone, which is why they don't. They delegate tasks and define which team members take care of which responsibilities. Simply put, to be a successful supervisor, you need to build a successful team. This starts with how you organize your tasks, objectives, and team members.
Effectively defining responsibilities, organizing your work, and holding effective team meetings are skills deployed by good supervisors, managers, and leaders in contact centers and beyond.
5. A good supervisor is a superb multi-tasker
Contact center supervisors have a lot to manage, therefore using their time productively is an essential skill. Good supervisors know what can be gained by managing their day more effectively and prioritize their tasks to increase productivity with goal-directed activities.
Successful supervisors are competent while juggling multiple tasks and understand how to constructively act as the middleman or proxy between agents and administrative staff.
6. A good (contact center) supervisor is a contact center expert
An effective supervisor has either been in the agents shoes or knows how to put themselves there. They are an aficionado when it comes to handling customers, especially the difficult ones. They aren’t afraid to jump on the phones and get their hands dirty, and they act as a role model for the team.
Not only do contact center supervisors know their agent’s job forward and back, they are also knowledgeable when it comes to the inner workings of the contact center and it’s operational structure. A good contact center supervisor also knows how to manage her stakeholders, and has an understanding workforce management and its implications on cost and service.
The best not only understand, they can even calculate the impact that a single individual has on meeting service goals and balancing workload!
7. A good supervisor is able to retain staff
And last, a good supervisor is skilled in retaining staff! They are able to identify shared qualities between successful team members and seek these qualities in recruits. They are able to identify the reasons employees leave and also, why they stay. They know how to measure employee retention and implement methods to retain staff.
In many ways, supervisors are the backbone of a successful contact center organization. Many supervisors start as great agents, but this doesn’t mean they know how to lead a team. The skills required to be a good supervisor are simple to teach, but unfortunately often times overlooked. If your contact center is lacking when it comes to building up your supervisor’s skillsets I challenge you to change this! Check out our most comprehensive program, Contact Center Supervision, where supervisors will learn to master these 7 skills and beyond, and you'll start seeing more effective teams and leadership in your contact center immediately.