Q & A with Call Center Leaders
At Philadelphia's "Focus on the Front Line" Town Meeting and panel discussion held in May, call center industry leaders came together to discuss some key issues facing those on the front line and their supervisors.
The panelists included: Mary Ann Falzone, president, Falzone & Associates; Steve Fagan, senior vice president, RMH Teleservices; Chuck O'Donnell, telemarketing consultant; and John Welsh, consultant and president, K-Tel Services.
Q. What's the ideal ratio of supervisors to reps?
Welsh: "It depends on what the reps do. For telemarketing, 1:12 is best; for customer service, try 1:8."
Fagan: "It depends on the ergonomics of the call center, and on whether you're handling inbound or outbound calls."
Q. What are some tips for training people on the front line?
Falzone: "Have a go-to person for different areas of specialty. This really helps with retention by giving individuals a sense of expertise. Try training people to be campaign, product and client specialists."
Fagan: "Supervisors need to understand how to read a production report to review who's hitting benchmarks and who's not. Before each shift, take the team and review the previous day's stats in production, efficiency, penetration, contact rates." These stats give supervisors a springing-off point for the supervisor to lead the reps.
O'Donnell: Make learning fun with good-natured competition. Try passing around an egg timer to reps to serve as a physical reminder of their goals. Just be sure that everyone has a turn holding the timer so no one feels singled out.
Falzone: "Take a holistic approach to training both reps and supervisors. Don't just base evaluations solely on monitored calls."
Fagan says he implements periodic written tests to make sure everyone is up to speed on procedures and rules.
Q. How much time should supervisors spend on calls?
O'Donnell: In deciding what percentage of time supervisors should spend on the phone, it's important to remember that having supervisors continue to do a certain amount of customer service work gives them credibility when it comes time to give feedback.