Call Centers Must Focus on Customer Service

The purpose of a call center is to serve callers. It’s that simple, but in the day-to-day battle to staff and run a call center, managers and supervisors can too easily lose sight of this critical distinction. Here are four all-to-common scenarios that trip up too many call centers. Apathy Tolerated: Agent apathy is a big problem in many call centers. And too often managers tolerate apathy instead of taking steps to eliminate it. This is because the end action of correcting agent indifference is often termination. While remediation should always be the first option considered, too often it fails, which leaves removing the agent as the only remaining recourse. Wise managers, however, will proactively deal with agent apathy before it spreads and infects other agents. Left unchecked apathy can overtake an entire call center operation. Haphazard Advancement: Most call centers desire to promote people from within and many provide career path mentoring to accomplish this. But too often agents are promoted too soon without the needed experience or training. Sometimes the motivation to do this comes from a need to fill open positions in the call center. Other times it stems from a well-intentioned effort to retain the most promising employees less they leave the company for other employment opportunities. In reality, however, promoting prematurely only results in losing good agents without any added benefit. Fear Controls Decisions: Too many managers fail to hold agents accountable for their shortcomings. Some managers fear the confrontation. Many managers fear the risk of losing an employee, figuring that a subpar agent is better than no agent. And others struggle with both fears. However, when fear guides decisions, everyone suffers: the agents, the callers, the management, and the call center. Don’t be handcuffed by fear, even if the outcome may be unpopular or uncomfortable. Lack of Ongoing Support: Most agents want to do a good job. But they need help to do so. This requires providing them with the right work environment, supportive management, helpful feedback, and advanced training. Without these mechanisms in place, even the best and most promising agents will flounder. Ongoing training is key. While many call centers think training ends once the agent onboarding is complete, smart managers know that agent onboarding is merely the first phase of training. Don’t let agents struggle. Provide them with the support they want and need. Managing a call center is hard. Managing a successful call center is even more challenging. Astute managers keep these common call center problems in mind and deal with them decisively in order to keep their call center running at its optimum level.   Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider and consultancy that provides custom training solutions for all levels of staff in the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at or 800-901-7706 to learn more about arranging specific training for your organization.Peter Lyle DeHaan  is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.