10 Common reasons why call center team leaders underperform

Faith Ocampo Published on January 23, 2017 Last updated on January 15, 2024

Call center leader underperformance is the last thing outsourcing firms want. Here are several reasons why this happens.

Call center team leaders keep members together, foster a positive work environment, and ensure exceptional customer service. However, there are instances when they face challenges in their roles, leading to call center leader underperformance.

Today, we’ll be looking at 10 call center leadership challenges that cause underperformance. But before we look at these root causes, let us first look at what happens when underperformance remains unresolved.

The Impact of Call Center Leader Underperformance on Customers

Ineffective call center leaders can have a significant and direct impact on the customers they serve. As the front-line representatives of the call center, team leaders play a crucial role in driving customer satisfaction.

When team leaders underperform, their actions and decisions can reverberate throughout customer interactions, leading to a range of negative effects on the overall customer experience.

  • Decline in Customer Service Quality

    One of the most immediate effects of poor leadership in call centers is a decline in customer service quality. Team leaders are responsible for setting the tone and standards for customer interactions within their teams.

    When team leaders lack the necessary skills, motivation, or training to lead effectively, their teams may struggle to meet customer needs and expectations. This can result in longer wait times, inadequate issue resolution, and overall poor customer service experiences.

  • Difficulty Handling Complaints

    Furthermore, ineffective call center leaders may struggle to effectively handle escalated customer issues and complaints. Customer escalations often require a higher level of expertise and emotional intelligence to de-escalate tense situations and resolve complex problems.

    When team leaders are unable to handle escalations competently, customers may feel unheard and dissatisfied with the resolution provided, leading to potential churn and negative word-of-mouth.

  • Impact on Customer Loyalty

    The impact of call center underperformance can extend to customer loyalty and retention. A key factor in customer loyalty is the quality of customer service they receive. When customers consistently experience subpar service due to underperforming team leaders, they may lose confidence in the call center’s ability to meet their needs and may seek alternatives.

The Impact of Underperforming Team Leaders on the Call Center

Call center leader underperformance can have significant consequences on the workplace environment and overall team dynamics.

As key figures in the call center’s leadership hierarchy, team leaders play a crucial role in shaping the work culture, motivating employees, and driving team performance. When team leaders underperform, it can create a ripple effect that permeates throughout the entire workplace.

  • Decrease in Employee Morale

    One of the most immediate effects of poor leadership in call centers is a decrease in employee morale and motivation. Team leaders are instrumental in creating a positive and supportive work environment.

    When team leaders underperform, they may struggle to effectively recognize and acknowledge employee efforts and achievements. This lack of recognition and support can lead to demotivated and disengaged employees, resulting in decreased productivity and increased absenteeism.

  • Communication Breakdown

    Moreover, underperforming team leaders may have difficulty in effectively communicating with their team members. Communication is crucial in any workplace, and effective communication from team leaders is essential for conveying expectations, goals, and feedback to team members.

    When team leaders fail to communicate clearly or provide inconsistent feedback, it can lead to misunderstandings and confusion among employees. This breakdown in communication can negatively impact team cohesion and collaboration, hindering overall team performance.

  • Lack of Professional Development

    Furthermore, underperforming team leaders may struggle to provide employees with the necessary guidance and support for professional growth and development. Team leaders are responsible for coaching and mentoring their team members to help them improve their skills and performance.

    When team leaders underperform, employees may miss out on valuable learning opportunities and developmental feedback. This can lead to stagnation in employee growth and skills, ultimately impacting employee satisfaction and retention.

  • Struggles in Employee Concerns

    Additionally, ineffective call center leaders may face challenges in effectively managing conflicts and addressing employee concerns. In any workplace, conflicts and issues are bound to arise, and it is the responsibility of team leaders to handle these situations professionally and impartially.

    When team leaders lack the necessary conflict resolution skills, it can lead to unresolved issues, low team morale, and potential escalations.

  • Impact on Collaboration

    The impact of underperforming call center team leaders can also extend to the overall team dynamics and collaboration. A cohesive and collaborative team is essential for call center success, as it allows for efficient problem-solving and teamwork.

    When team leaders underperform, it can create a sense of uncertainty and disarray within the team. Employees may feel unsure about their roles, responsibilities, and the direction of the team, leading to decreased collaboration and cooperation.

Now, let us delve into ten common call center leadership challenges, particularly when it comes to underperformance. We will also explore how addressing these issues can lead to greater overall success for the call center.

Reason #1: Lack of Proper Training and Development

Effective call center team leaders require comprehensive training and continuous development to excel in their roles. Without the necessary training, call center leadership challenges, such as those regarding metrics, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement may arise.

Lacking proper training can also hinder their ability to implement effective coaching strategies and motivate their team effectively. Therefore, providing leadership training tailored to the call center environment is essential to equipping team leaders with the skills and motivation needed for success.

Reason #2: Insufficient Communication Skills

Clear and effective communication is the foundation of successful leadership in any domain, and call centers are no exception. Team leaders serve as the bridge between the management and their team members, conveying expectations, goals, and feedback.

Ineffective call center leaders may encounter difficulties in articulating expectations clearly, providing constructive feedback, or initiating dialogues with their team. As a result, miscommunication and misunderstanding may arise, leading to decreased team morale and performance.

To address this issue, call center management should prioritize enhancing communication skills through targeted workshops and coaching sessions. This will empower team leaders to establish transparent expectations, strengthen team dynamics, and enhance overall communication within the call center.

Reason #3: Ineffective Performance Monitoring and Feedback

Monitoring individual and team performance is vital for call center team leaders to identify areas for improvement and provide timely feedback. Unfortunately, underperforming team leaders may struggle to recognize performance gaps, offer constructive feedback, or set achievable goals for their team.

Without a structured performance monitoring and feedback system, team leaders may find it challenging to track progress accurately. Call center leadership challenges like this can result in unmotivated agents and hindered team growth.

Through a comprehensive performance monitoring and feedback system, team leaders can track performance metrics and identify areas of improvement. Subsequently, they can motivate their team members more effectively.

Reason #4: Low Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role in effective leadership as well. It enables team leaders to navigate diverse emotions within their teams and adapt their approach accordingly.

Ineffective call center leaders may exhibit a lack of empathy or struggle to manage emotions during challenging situations. They could also have difficulty understanding their team members’ needs and concerns. As a result, team morale may suffer, and the overall work environment may become tense.

Developing emotional intelligence through specialized training empowers team leaders to forge deeper connections with their team. Through it, they can cultivate a positive workplace culture and enhance overall employee satisfaction.

Reason #5: Poor Conflict Resolution Skills

Conflicts are inevitable in any call center environment, making effective conflict resolution a critical leadership skill.

Underperforming team leaders may avoid addressing conflicts or mishandle sensitive situations, leading to team dissatisfaction and reduced productivity. When conflicts are left unaddressed, team dynamics can suffer, hindering the overall performance of the call center.

Implementing conflict resolution training equips team leaders with the tools to address conflicts professionally. Such training programs promote open communication, and maintain team harmony. With effective conflict resolution skills, team leaders can foster a collaborative and cohesive team that works together to achieve common goals.

Reason #6: Inadequate Time Management

Efficient time management is essential for call center team leaders to balance various responsibilities, including team supervision and administrative tasks.

Ineffective call center leaders may struggle to prioritize their time effectively, leading to delays, missed deadlines, and decreased team productivity. As a result, agents may become overwhelmed, and the overall team performance may suffer.

Time management training and coaching can help team leaders optimize their schedules, allocate time wisely, and focus on critical tasks. This ensures that the team operates smoothly and efficiently, getting rid of call center underperformance.

Reason #7: Lack of Empathy and Understanding

Empathy is a fundamental trait in leadership, enabling team leaders to understand their team members’ perspectives and concerns. Underperforming team leaders may demonstrate a lack of empathy, leading to decreased employee engagement and motivation.

When team members feel their concerns are not understood or valued, they may become disengaged and less committed to their work. Cultivating empathy through targeted training enables team leaders to strengthen connections with their team and build trust.

Simply put, empathetic team leaders are better equipped to address their team members’ needs. Because of this, they have the capability to create a positive and inclusive work environment.

Reason #8: Failure to Adapt to Changing Customer Needs

The call center landscape is continually evolving, and team leaders must adapt to meet changing customer expectations.

Underperforming team leaders may resist change or struggle to adapt to new technologies or processes. Call center leadership challenges like this hinder the call center’s ability to deliver optimal experiences. As a result, customer satisfaction may decline, and the call center’s reputation may be at risk.

Encouraging flexibility and providing ongoing training on emerging trends empowers team leaders to stay ahead of customer needs. Adaptable team leaders can guide their team through changes effectively, ensuring that the call center remains responsive to customer demands.

Reason #9: Inadequate Support and Resources

Call center team leaders require adequate support and resources to fulfill their roles effectively. Therefore, call center leadership challenges may arise due to a lack of tools, limited access to data, or insufficient coaching and mentoring.

When team leaders are not adequately supported, they may struggle to make informed decisions and provide guidance to their team.

Ensuring team leaders have the necessary support and resources equips them to lead their team more effectively. Through this support, leaders are guided to make data-driven decisions and create a positive and productive work environment.

Reason #10: High Turnover and Burnout

Call center leader underperformance can lead to troubles in retaining top talent, leading to high agent turnover and increased burnout. High turnover places additional pressure on team leaders, affecting team morale and productivity.

Addressing the root causes of turnover and providing leadership development opportunities can lead to a stable and motivated team. Focusing on employee engagement and well-being helps team leaders reduce burnout, increase agent retention, and create a high-performing team.

Setting Long-Term Goals for the Call Center Team

Establishing long-term goals is crucial for overcoming call center leader underperformance and addressing call center leadership challenges. Effective employees recognize that setting clear objectives is a solution to the pitfalls associated with ineffective call center leaders.

  • Vision and Planning

    A call center’s success hinges on the vision of its leaders. On that note, a comprehensive plan can tackle the challenges associated with ineffective call center leaders. Planning involves foreseeing potential hurdles and crafting a roadmap to triumph over them.

  • Employee Development and Training Initiatives

    One key aspect of countering call center leader underperformance is investing in continuous employee development. Leaders should establish goals aimed at enhancing the skills and capabilities of their team. Regular training not only addresses current challenges but also equips team members to adapt to future shifts in the industry.

  • Cultivating a Positive Work Culture

    Long-term success in call center leadership requires a focus on cultivating a positive work culture. Leaders should set goals that encourage collaboration, communication, and a sense of belonging among team members. Addressing the root causes of ineffective call center leaders often involves creating an environment where employees feel motivated and valued.

  • Performance Metrics and Continuous Improvement

    Establishing measurable performance metrics is crucial for evaluating the effectiveness of call center leaders. Setting goals related to key performance indicators (KPIs) allows leaders to track progress and identify areas for improvement. This then contributes to the ongoing process of refining strategies and mitigating challenges associated with poor leadership in call centers.

Effective Strategies for Call Center Team Leader Training

Recognizing the impact of call center leader underperformance and the challenges associated with ineffective leadership is crucial for creating targeted training programs. Addressing poor leadership in call centers means equipping team leaders with the skills needed to navigate challenges effectively.

  1. Tailored Training Programs

    To tackle underperformance, organizations must develop tailored training programs that specifically address call center leadership challenges. These programs should focus on enhancing communication, problem-solving, and motivational skills to mitigate the issues associated with ineffective leadership.

  2. Interactive Workshops and Simulations

    Traditional training methods may not effectively address the specifics of poor leadership in call centers. In that case, interactive workshops and simulations offer a dynamic learning environment. This will allow team leaders to practice decision-making and communication skills in scenarios resembling real-life challenges.

  3. Leadership Coaching and Mentoring

    Providing personalized leadership coaching and mentoring is an effective strategy to combat call center leader underperformance. Experienced mentors can guide team leaders, offering insights and strategies to overcome challenges and develop effective leadership qualities.

  4. Soft Skills Development

    Effective call center leadership goes beyond technical knowledge; it requires strong soft skills. Training programs should emphasize the development of interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution abilities to mitigate the impact of poor leadership in call centers.

  5. Encouraging a Learning Culture

    Fostering a culture of continuous learning is instrumental in addressing call center leadership challenges. Encouraging team leaders to pursue ongoing professional development opportunities ensures they stay updated on industry trends and best practices, contributing to effective leadership.

  6. Peer-to-Peer Learning Initiatives

    Creating opportunities for peer-to-peer learning allows team leaders to share experiences and strategies for overcoming challenges. Establishing a collaborative environment creates a sense of community among leaders, helping them address poor leadership in call centers collectively.

Summary

Understanding the effects of underperformance among call center team leaders is the first step to addressing this very problem. Being a key actor in the overall operations of the call center, team leaders must consistently be responsible for their job and their members. Otherwise, both the team and the customer experience will be compromised.

Leadership training, effective communication, emotional intelligence development, and a supportive work culture are just a few key aspects that can foster successful team leaders and drive overall call center success.

Having great call center team leaders has always been one of the reasons why Open Access BPO is the leading outsourcing firm for multichannel customer support. Our leadership program empowers our future leaders to learn skills such as communication, time management, and focus-skills that are useful inside and outside the office.

With how effective Open Access BPO’s training is, your brand can be assured of a strong link to your customers no matter what language they speak.

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frustrated company team leader

The Center for Creative Leadership, a nonprofit organization that focuses on leadership development, said that 38% to 50% of managers fail outright at their first 18 months on the job.

Given this alarming figure, it looks like many executives can’t accurately predict whether someone can be a strong leader. This is true even if the candidate in question possesses key leadership qualities, such as focus, intelligence, and passion.

For call centers, bad leadership comes with alarming costsโ€”and not just financial ones. Team leaders are expected to motivate frontline customer support agents and shape them into proactive brand reps. They also act as advocates of the company’s values and goals. So without them, it’s impossible to build an agile and solid organization.

When leaders fail, the rest of the company is left to deal with poor performance and low employee engagement. Here are seven common reasons why your managers may struggle to perform their tasks.

1. They were promoted too soon.

serious-uncertain-businessman-applauding

Executives who are in a rush to fill vacant managerial positions may end up picking a customer service agent for the job. Nothing’s ultimately wrong with this, but do consider whether the candidate is fully prepared for the task. If you want to promote from within, there’s a right way to groom your agents as future leaders. Otherwise, a more viable option would be to hire a professional who already meets your qualifications.

2. They weren’t trained well.

worred panicking office employee on blue backdrop

Just because someone has garnered years upon years of call center experience doesn’t mean that they’re ready for leadership roles. The thing is, many execs mistakenly think so. They thus skip the leadership development part, leaving would-be team leaders with no choice but to step up to the challenge unguided.

Transitioning new leaders into their new position would be easier if you train them well. Equip them with the skills and knowledge they need so they’ll know what’s expected of them. This will help them mentally prepare for the job.

3. They’re terrible at time management.

concerned woman in glasses holding giant alarm clock

We all know that leaders handle a variety of responsibilities. That’s why ideal candidates must be able to manage their time well, delegate tasks effectively, and prioritize projects. Unfortunately, these skills can’t be taught. They can only be learned through a combination of experience, focus, and an unbendable will to get things done.

4. They’re overly friendly.

overjoyed businessman having fun with coworkers

Some team leaders are more concerned with building friendships within the call center. Indeed, promoting camaraderie among team members can boost employee engagement. Overdoing it, however, does more harm than good. Leaders need to exert authority over their team to gain

On the other hand, being too strict doesn’t help either. Thus, managers must find the perfect balance between being approachable and authoritative.

5. They do more than they can handle.

businessman tired face buried in crumpled paper

Part of effective team management is being able to delegate tasks to the right people. Leaders must fully understand the unique aptitudes of their team members so they can match a certain task to an employee who can do it well. If bosses don’t trust their employees enough, they’ll end up doing everything themselves, which is an unhealthy habit.

On the contrary, good leaders empower their team. They stand behind their people, arming them with the right tools and know-how so they can independently carry out their responsibilities.

6. They don’t talk to their team.

boss snooping around office

In many cases, bad leadership results from a lack of communication between employees and managers. This prevents customer support teams from clarifying their goals and outlining the steps that must be taken to achieve them. When this happens, agents end up carrying out their tasks without an objective in mind, leading to poor results.

7. They’re overconfident.

smug boss winking giving thumbs up

The best leaders know what they’re capable of, and they use their strengths to empower themselves and the people they work with. But at the same time, they’re aware of their weaknesses. This encourages them to acquire new skills and improve themselves continuously.

Overconfident team leaders, on the other hand, refuse to acknowledge their shortcomings. These are the types of people who end up blocking self-growth. Such mindsets are detrimental not just to call centers but to all kinds of organizations.

 

Faith is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.
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