Back in 1989, Steven Covey first published his famous book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. For many people, this book has been a source of inspiration for self-improvement and people management.

Contact center managers are people who work in dynamic environments where many types of different talents are required to be successful. Typically, contact centers produce vast amounts of data, so analytical skills are a key requirement. That said, this role is also very much a ‘people game’ so empathetic skills are certainly as important.

Since customer service has become a strategic differentiator for many companies, the role has gained more ‘weight’ and now contact center managers need to have even more talents.

So, what would Steven Covey say if we could ask him, “What are the seven habits of highly effective contact center managers?”

  1. They are proactive. Contact center managers are proactive personalities by nature. To understand the goals of the organization and how corporate initiatives are translated to projects and the impact for customer service, contact center managers have to be great social networkers.
  2. They begin with the end in mind. Contact center managers understand that they are the ones that set goals for their organization and define what needs to be done to achieve these goals. Based on budget and expectations of the company, they define service level goals and quality standards.
  3. They put first things first. Customer service is a central topic for the organization and many stakeholders have an opinion and want something from the contact center manager and his team. Marketing needs capacity and brand alignment. Sales wants more sales. The CEO is very focused on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Setting priorities based on context, new developments, demanding stakeholders and still sticking to the strategy is a day-to-day task. The contact center manager understands what’s important vs. what is urgent.
  4. They think win-win. Running a customer service operation is often about finding balance and making compromises. SLA’s need to be met. Employee wellbeing is important. Managing stress and retention needs constant focus. Effective contact center managers understand these challenges and are creative when finding that balance.
  5. They seek to understand, more than to be understood. Customer service is a people game. Contact center managers have a variety of ‘characters’ to work with. Senior management, Team leaders and supervisors, forecasters and planners, and last, but not least, contact center agents. To make sure every part works in harmony, it’s important to understand what drives and motivates each individual and how to best enable them.
  6. They create synergy.  Since the contact center manager is the one with the overall context and understanding of all stakeholders and players, he or she is also capable of forming project teams with the right resources for best success. Being a project manager and ‘executive sponsor’ for key initiatives and transformation projects is a key requirement for the role.
  7. They practice self-renewal. The customer service business has developed at a rapid pace, and the introduction of social media in customer service, new metrics such as NPS and CES, and also the transition from traditional telephony to SIP are just a few examples where this self-renewal has been necessary. Contact center managers keep themselves educated on the latest business and technology developments and determine how it might help deliver on the previous six habits.