Management Training: Keeping Pace with Change
Illustration by Gina Furnari
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New technology, emerging channels, social media and rising customer expectations are all transforming the customer care environment. In our recent Contact Center Training poll, 61% of organizations provided ongoing training for supervisors, and just over half (52%) did so for managers. Most that did said that they only offered 50 hours or less of ongoing training per year for supervisors (70%) and managers (72%).

How Much Contact Center Agent Training is Provided
Source: Contact Center Training Special Report, April 2015; www.contactcenterpipeline.com

So how can contact center leaders keep pace with change through professional development?

We asked experts from the leading contact center training providers where contact center supervisors and managers should concentrate their own training to be more successful in today’s rapidly evolving business environment. Here’s what they had to say:

Mike Aoki, President, Reflective Keynotes Inc.
Technology. Contact center technology is rapidly changing, with an emphasis on omnichannel client service and social media. To avoid falling behind your customer’s expectations, you need to read, attend seminars and be at least as knowledgeable on tech as your customers. Today’s customers, especially millennials, have high expectations of technology. They expect to get customer service help, not only by phone or email, but by website chat, Twitter and Instagram. To survive, contact centers leaders need to keep up.

Jodi Beuder, Customer Experience Advocate, Impact Learning Systems
With the changing environment of the customer experience (omnichannel, call skills blending, metrics to measure, etc.), supervisors and managers should concentrate their own training on targeted guidance and encouragement of each agent, and reinforcement.

Elaine Carr, Training & Development Manager, International Customer Management Institute (ICMI)
Supervisors and managers should always be seeking to be better supervisors and managers. No matter how good they already are, there is always room for improvement. I would suggest the first focus is on being self-aware—looking at what the supervisor/manager has done well and where they could have done better. Doing some short, reflective writing in a journal at the end of each day is a great way to build this self-awareness and get better at managing others.

Another area of focus should be on building relationships, both inside your team, and with those outside of the team. A big part of supervising/managing others is influencing them to get better at their job or influencing others to get the things the team needs in order to meet goals and be better at the job. Effective influencing requires good relationships, so get to know the people on the team as well as those outside of the team who can help the supervisor/ manager get the job done.

These days it is also important for supervisors and managers to know how to use data properly. This means getting data out of the various systems in which it lives (so knowing how to use systems effectively) as well as then understanding what the data means and what to do with the data in order to drive improvements. It also means knowing when not to rely too heavily on data.

As a training manager, I have always loved developing and facilitating management development programs. It is fun to help others get better at what they are doing, but it also helps me always get better as a manager because I’m always reflecting on how I can do better at whatever skill I am covering with others. Outside of developing and facilitating, I keep up this focus on getting better by reading lots of blogs, talking with others in management, and doing short, reflective journal entries in the last 10 to 15 minutes before I leave the office each day. Keep learning and keep working to be better.

Jay Minnucci, President & Founder, Service Agility
Training at these levels should be customized to the individual. Moving ahead in today’s organizations requires a very well-rounded skill set, from coaching and leadership capabilities to technology expertise to data analysis skills (and everything in between). An honest self-assessment of skills, along with input from mentors, is needed to craft training programs that most effectively address gaps on an individual basis.

Download the Contact Center Training Special Issue for more insights.

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