Orit Avital presents ten messages to share with the team that will help to improve managerial resourcefulness.
1. “Instead of telling me what’s impossible, tell me what’s possible”
As Steve Jobs once famously said: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
So, instead of having to create the solution on your own, with middle managers telling you want you can’t do, ask them to come to you with the solutions. This way you can choose the best way forward from an assortment of options.
But, this doesn’t just go for manager and middle managers, advisors need to have a voice too. They are the people who speak to their customers and giving them a voice in any procedure changes will not only add value, but it will also greater engage them with the chosen solution.
2. “Metrics are only the measure, focus on improving processes and not the maths directly.”
Often, in managerial meetings, discussing metric results can take up too much talk time. Remember, these are only numerical results that give us little in the way of information for how to improve them.
So, there needs to be some sort of research behind them. We should only be measuring metrics that give us insight into how performance has been influenced by our various strategies.
These strategies should not be directly designed to improve metrics, but to improve the experience that we create for customers. Otherwise, we may lose sight of the customer behind the measures and do things that could damage their happiness.
3. “Problems always seem to reach you or me, let’s see how we can develop resourcefulness throughout the team.”
Contact center advisors often have problems that are escalated to middle managers to resolve, taking up valuable time.
Classic examples include:
- Requests for shift-swaps
- Gaps in the knowledge base
- One-off customer queries, which they need support with
So, we need to think about how advisors can help each other to solve these issues amongst themselves, instead of having matters passed up to us, filling up our inbox and disengaging us from other pressing matters.
One way to do this is do create a community group, which has a forum where advisors can answer each other’s issues and can easily be monitored. Just make sure advisors are a key part of the creation of the group, to ensure their buy-in.
4. “I hope that next time we face overload, as we recently were, we will already be prepared with Standards Operating Procedures (SOPs)”
Being resourceful means learning from our mistakes. So, if your contact center has recently experienced an overload of contact volumes, you need to ask yourself and your team:
- How can we prevent this happening again?
- How can we better prepare in the future?
Firstly, get to the root cause of the issue; did marketing send out a new promotion that you weren’t warned about? Was there a mistake with your forecasts?
Then, think of prevention ideas, remembering that if the fault lies with another department to try and forge better relationships, showing them the consequences of the miscommunication.
But, we all know that unexpected peaks in contact volumes isn’t a unique situation. So, learn from your mistakes by creating SOPs, which dictate the steps that should be taken in these difficult circumstances – to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
5. “Changes in industry regulations and organisational goals shall continue to occur, it cannot lead to a crisis every time.”
Solutions almost never come from above, but changes in organisational goals and industry regulations do – so it cannot lead to a blind panic every time we are tasked with a new project, without clear guidelines.
To avoid this, start by putting together the right team, people who you know will work together well and whose personalities best fit the task.
Then, start documenting what is required of you, reminding ourselves that any changes that we make to our plan should be in light of these key goals.
Creating a realistic schedule is a good next step, including key milestones and highlighting potential problems that you may meet when rolling out the plan on the contact center floor.
At this point, it is good to get advisors involved to ensure they buy-into your new plans.
6. “Always look for the broad picture when decision making, ensure that we’re not creating more problems for ourselves.”
I’m sure that you, as a Contact Center Manager, have experienced a time where one change to a key process has led to an unforeseen chain of problematic events.
So, we need to think 360. This firstly involves sharing your ideas with someone who has had nothing to do with the creation of the idea and simply asking them to think any of negative consequences that could occur.
We must also consider how our change will impact each major contact center department (i.e. Resource Planning), the advisors and, of course, the customers.
7. “Try not to come to me with requests for new solutions, come to me with proposals.”
The Contact Center Manager will often deal with suggestions and requests for new technologies, but proposals are different, they carry more value.
To create a business case, you, as the Manager, will have to define the contact centers pain points, while calculating an estimated ROI for the proposed solution and compare that with the cost of doing nothing. Even then, there is no guarantee for securing the budget.
So, plead your case for a solution. Do your research and be innovative when creating the proposal. For example, you could create a video where contact center advisors demonstrate how the solution will make their lives easier and bring your case to light!
8. “Let’s learn from our failures, to understand where we went wrong and understand how we can avoid the same mistakes.”
It is important to reflect upon initiatives that weren’t successful and ask yourself; why? This will help you to determine how you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Ask yourself the difficult questions, and for each mistake that you realise you’ve made, create a list of reasons for why you shouldn’t make that mistake again.
Equally, we also need to celebrate with the whole team when we do meet our successes. This will encourage the team to continue to work hard to adopt our future initiatives.
9. “In meetings, let’s not just discuss problems, we should instead bring ideas for development for the year ahead.”
To provide the best possible support, you need middle managers to lead and while discussing problems is key to restoring the status quo, meetings also need to include longer-term development discussions.
Moving beyond the firefighting of the contact center is the only way that we can plan ahead and remove future obstacles from our path.
To do this, we have to investigate whether we are being efficient enough with our resources, where customer dissatisfaction is coming from and, on larger scale, think about how we can increase our strategic value to the organisation.
10. “Think about how your teams can do better adapt to new contact center processes or changes in organisational goals.”
For a new procedure to be a success, it is important that everyone is invested in your plans. So, to start with, advisors need to be involved in the plan’s creation. Getting feedback from every level of the contact center is good practice.
Each different point of view that you gather can help you to understand what will happen next and will help to structure your plan, to avoid any concerns that the team may have.
Then, once the new process has been “rolled-out”, continue to listen to your team and make changes if requested, ensuring that you can still achieve your desired outcomes with the change.
How Can These Messages Improve Managerial Resourcefulness?
Resourcefulness is a key managerial skill, as a resourceful person is someone who knows how to solve problems and overcome difficult situations.
In fact, it is a skill through which managers efficiently (in the best manner) and effectively (with the best result) cope with problems and unexpected situations at the contact center.
Resourceful people will also know how to:
- Identify difficult situations – you will also need to know how to avoid “shaking” or “waking” them
- Demonstrate levelheadedness – not to respond with hysteria and helplessness in the initial understanding of the situation
- Find possible methods of handling the problem – propose high quality beneficial ways of coping
- Find necessary change processes for prevention of the reappearance of the problem – you will understand the problem in depth so that they can act to deal with its origin
Setting clear expectations is key and these come from clear and accessible messages that set the expectance for managerial resourcefulness. The ten messages above are great examples!
Once you have identified you Key Performance Areas (KPAs) in which you would like the contact center to improve, you need to make plans for improving in these areas – making resourcefulness a key skill.
Managerial resourcefulness is one of the essential managerial skills for development among various management levels, in terms of personal and contact center development, as it allows you to effectively problem solve.
In order to improve your resourcefulness, you need to set clear expectations, which you can do by sharing the ten messages above with your managerial team.