Life as a contact centre team leader – with and without AI technologies
Author: Simon Black | Date: 25/10/2023
Team leaders in contact centres are in a vital but often challenging role. Every day, they must juggle various responsibilities, such as managing their team, ensuring adherence to policies and compliance, providing coaching, onboarding new agents, handling reporting tasks and steering the team towards the achievement of challenging call targets.
In this article, we sat down with some contact centre team leaders to hear more about their experiences in this busy and often difficult role. We’ll be shedding light on the regular hurdles they have to try to overcome and how these challenges dissipate when innovative and dynamic AI technology solutions have been deployed.
Their stories and insights shed light on the crucial role team leaders play in the contact centre ecosystem and how technology can be leveraged to streamline their responsibilities and increase job satisfaction.
A constant juggling act for team leaders
One of the toughest aspects of being a contact centre team leader is the delicate balancing act that comes with managing a multitude of responsibilities and expectations.
As one team leader with over a decade of experience told us, “We’re the middle ground between senior management and agents, which can be difficult. We have to try and keep our agents motivated and happy whilst also dedicating a lot of time to making sure policies are followed, difficult messages and change from the top are shared and implemented, compliance is maintained, and potential complaints are spotted and dealt with quickly.”
It’s also difficult for team leaders to retain all the knowledge they need to support their teams in the best way. “Things change so quickly; it can feel like we’ve just trained all the team on a policy change, or a system change and then everything changes again. It can be hard for us to keep up.”
While helping to deliver and monitor change is an important aspect of the team leader role, this responsibility often diverts them from the very aspect of the job that attracted them – managing people and helping them to develop for their future career. “I initially applied for the role because I love working with people and wanted to help them grow and progress,” reflects one team leader. “But I feel like that’s secondary to reports, admin tasks and compliance checking.”
For these team leaders and many others, the role has evolved to mainly consist of tasks that are less focused on the human aspect of management. They want to be able to coach and mentor their agents but the demands of policy adherence, paperwork, and compliance are taking precedence. This shift is leading to a sense of detachment from the aspects of the job that bring the most satisfaction – guiding and supporting their team.
The challenges of high agent turnover
One common challenge mentioned by all the team leaders we spoke to was high agent turnover rates. The cycle of continuous recruitment, training and the integration of new agents places a considerable burden on team leaders. It diverts their attention from providing the hands-on support and mentorship that agents, especially those new to the role, desperately need.
“You’re constantly breaking in new agents; it feels like a never-ending cycle and makes it hard to build a strong and reliable team.”
The high turnover has a domino effect. Constantly training new agents leads to errors, compliance breaches and missed call targets. This in turn adds to the team leader’s responsibilities as they then have to address these issues but still try to maintain team morale. “It’s like trying to hit a moving target, just when you think you’ve got your team operating smoothly, you’re back to square one with new recruits who need extensive training and guidance. Average handling times go up, breaches increase and agents are stressed out.”
The impact of AI technologies on the team leader role
Next up, we spoke to contact centre team leaders who are working in businesses where AI technologies like dynamic scripting, guidance and voice / speech analytics have been deployed. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing the changes our own platforms have made to contact centres around the world, but we wanted to share the thoughts of team leaders, in their own words about how AI is supporting them in their role.
“I’ll admit, before AI was deployed I was worried it would let us down or make agents feel like robots. We’d invested in so many things before that didn’t deliver on promises. But within a few days, I could see that this was going to make a really positive difference, not just for my agents, but for me too. In the past, I’d spend hours gathering reporting data from various sources, trying to piece together a coherent picture of my team’s performance. It was draining and by the time I had the insights, it felt like we’d missed opportunities. Now, I no longer have to slog through data, the platform never lets us down and I get to spend more time actually managing my team.”
The journey from traditional, lengthy training and onboarding methods to embracing AI-driven agent guidance has also been a transformative experience for the team leaders we spoke to.
In the past, training programs were extensive and time-consuming, predominantly focused on navigating complex processes and systems. Although the training was extensive, it often left little room for learning company values and developing communication skills.
But for the team leaders we spoke to, AI has significantly improved the training and onboarding process. The time spent on process and system training has been vastly reduced, allowing training programs to focus on company values, communication skills and delivering exceptional customer experiences.
“After we deployed the guidance and scripting technology, I quickly noticed that new agents coming onto my team were a lot more confident and customer focused. Their training time hadn’t focused so heavily on processes and systems as the AI guidance supported them, so they were able to focus their learning on how to deliver a really positive experience. This was great for me in my role because I was able to continue that when they joined the team and focus my time on coaching and mentoring, which, as someone who genuinely enjoys working with people, it was brilliant.”
Voice and speech analytics platforms have revolutionised the way team leaders identify coaching needs in their teams. These technologies are able to decipher the nuances of tone and sentiment in conversations giving team leaders instant insights and actionable data. They can easily spot where an agent is struggling and take swift action to step in and support them.
“With voice and speech AI, I can pinpoint areas where an agent is having difficulty, even if they haven’t expressed it to me yet. It feels like I’m able to do the job I wanted to do all the way along – helping my agents to be the best they can be and supporting them through the tough moments of the job right when they need it.”
AI is playing a vital role in supporting not only agents, but also the team leaders who are tasked with delivering results and building motivated and efficient teams.
Contact us to find out more
Thank you to the team leaders who shared their thoughts with us in such an open and honest way. If you’d like to see how our AI technologies could improve the experience of your contact centres teams, your team leaders and your customers, then get in touch to arrange a demo.