Call center management is an art form. Take, for example, a call center that does fundraising for political non- profit groups . The reason it is so challenging is that it is a job entailing so many different skills. The call center manager has to deal with the equipment and facility itself–he or she has to know what to do if the dialing system stops, if a given call station fails, or how to cope even if the air conditioning goes down on a hot summer day (which may mean buying ice cream for the caller while they await a repair person).
If the center calls for different clients, as is usual, the manager has to be able to communicate effectively with them all, and communicate their campaigns and goals effectively to the phone agents. The call center manager has to be able to understand the reports on the various campaigns that are underway, and manage the campaigns to meet the fundraising goals: this campaign may be failing because the callers don’t have enough information; that one may do better with an improved calling script; this one may perk up if called by a different group of callers, or at a different time of day, or a different day of the week; results on another may increase if certain segments of the list are not called; on another, success may depend on training callers on more aggressive negotiation or on a using a stronger, or softer, tone of voice.
But perhaps most of all, success or failure will depend upon the manager’s ability to recruit, train, discipline, and inspire the group of callers working at the center. The manager must select applicants with many qualities–people who can work well in a call center environment, who have the right politics, who are articulate and have great phone voices, who are assertive enough to close a pledge and sensitive enough to deal with a wide range of donors and preserve their good will towards the client.
The manager then has to MANAGE and retain the callers, motivating them in the face of constant rejection, working with them to improve their fundraising skills, negotiating their disputes with other staff, helping them with their personal crises, firing them when necessary, and rewarding them when reward has been earned. The manager can and must be everything from engineer to boss to coach to counselor to leader!