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How to help your Contact Centre Team Leaders do better

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this article I share some ideas on how to help your Contact Centre Team Leaders do better.

Common barriers to Team Leader success

The Contact Centre Team Leader has arguably the most important job in a Contact Centre.  Their actions or inactions directly impact productivity, quality & culture.

But the cards tend to be stacked against their success.


As with any Pareto scenario, I think a few reasons account for most of the challenge:

  1. Senior Leadership sets or pursues the wrong KPIs
  2. Team Leaders are always busy but don’t know how to allocate their time to achieve results
  3. What made someone a great Agent doesn’t readily translate to making them a great Team Leader
  4. The job role requires endless conversations – but they don’t happen often enough or well enough
  5. There’s a fundamental lack of structured know-how for the Team Leader to draw on to make decisions

The mix and relative impact of these barriers varies from Centre to Centre.

So let’s look at each barrier along with some related suggestions.


1. Senior leadership sets or pursues the wrong KPIs

I see this challenge all over the world.  A lack of essential Operations know-how.

Chasing incorrect KPIs or KPIs that actually compete with each other.

The only way to close this gap is to ensure that the senior leadership in charge of the Centre has expressly mastered Contact Centre operations.  That most often happens through participation in formal external workshops or certification programs.

Don’t count on experience alone.  I hear that all the time as in “She’s an experienced Contact Centre Manager.”

Experience matters.  But success requires experience + know-how.

One Client I worked with globally established an in-house ‘certification program’ after adopting the various principles and practices learned via external training.  Their in-house certification ensures that what they learned about operations gets codified into their business practices across dozens of Centres.

Delivering on Productivity, Quality & Culture is the big part of the Team Leader job.

So it’s important that Centre leadership be clued in to how Centres ‘work’ and how to define and set appropriate Productivity and Quality measures for Frontliners & Team Leaders.

That’s not always the case.

How to help your Contact Centre Agents improve their Performance


2.  Team Leaders are always busy – but busy doing what?

I remember in my VP Operations days I had a Team Leader come into my office.

“Dan, I’m so busy…”  so I asked “OK, busy doing what?”

We then set about finding out the answer to this question – busy doing what?

To this day one of my favorite exercises in a room of Team Leaders is to conduct a time & motion study – across a typical week – of where their time goes.

The 5 Categories of the Team Leader job role

When I conduct a formal Team Leader time & motion study, I use 5 different categories to categorize and then analyze where their time goes.

  • Developing their staff
  • Supporting their staff
  • Doing administrative & management work
  • Developing themselves
  • Other roles such as taking on the role of committee head

I ask each Team Leader to consider everything they do, estimate a weekly time spent on each activity and then slot each activity into one of the 5 categories.

Then we sum up the time for each category and share the results on a whiteboard for everyone to see.

When you talk to Team Leaders (and their Managers) they all say that they spend a lot of time developing their staff – coaching, performance appraisals, developmental conversations.

But when the numbers are laid out – Team Leader by Team Leader in black and white – that’s not usually how it plays out.

What the results tell us

I’ve had time & motion sessions where we learned that nearly 50% of Team Leader time spent was spent on administrative & management work.   Is all this admin work really valuable?  Could some it be redesigned, reassigned or even eliminated?  I worry about turning Team Leaders into admins.

When it comes to personal development I tend to see 0% of Team Leader time spent in a typical week.  You can shout lifelong learning from the rooftops all day – but check out how many hours in a typical week your Team Leaders really learn something.   It’s an eye opener.

Another common opportunity that pops up is to help Team Leaders figure out if they’re offering too much Staff support. 

My definition of Staff support is helping the Frontliners to do their job.

Handling too many escalations or fielding the same questions over and over means the Team Leader is doing the Agent job for them.  And that takes away the Team Leader’s time for Staff development.

Sure – Staff support will always be intrinsic to the job.

But time invested in Staff support – over and above a tolerable minimum – isn’t going to move the Team forward.

Another interesting trend has popped out during these time & motion sessions.

Sometimes, when Staff development hours look low, we uncover that Team Leaders avoid having developmental conversations with their staff.

Not because they don’t see them as important.  But because they lack the self-confidence to coach or have those important people management discussions.

That can be addressed.

When you coach you’re either helping or keeping score

3.  Great performance as an Agent doesn’t readily translate into great performance as a Team Leader

It’s an irony of the Contact Centre ecosystem that the knowledge, skills & attitudes of a great Agent don’t readily translate into the knowledge, skills & attitudes required of a great Team Leader.

If you consider that the job of a former great Agent is to replicate their personal success across other people you can see what they need to know and be able to do is quite different than before.  Their job role becomes about ‘them’ – not about ‘me’ anymore.

There’s also a bit of psychology at play here as well.

We all like to do what we’re good at.

So sometimes the new Team Leader spends an inordinate amount of time handling escalations and engaging in Staff support – because that’s where their formery mastery lay.

Defusing angry Customers and using their product, systems and organizational know-how.

But as we covered earlier, Staff support – though an intrinsic part of the job role – doesn’t move the performance dial forward.

So evaluate your Team Leader hiring criteria on what it takes to be a great Team Leader.  Not on the fact that this candidate was a great Agent.

When I’m hiring for Team Leaders I always ask myself these questions:

1.  What are the specific competencies across knowledge, skills & attitudes I need from a new Team Leader hire?  And what are the minimum existing levels of each competency to be considered for hiring?  I have to be realistic here because – at hiring – nearly no one will come with all the competencies expected nor at the levels expected for a professional Team Leader.

2.  What is my defined developmental roadmap to raise my Team Leader competency levels  – across the identified competencies – to expectation within the next 6 months or year? 

I think a lot of Contact Centres struggle with this.

There seems to be an assumption that the Team Leader can just somehow pick this all up on the job.

Or perhaps it’s inertia – doing nothing is just easier than doing something.  Hope as a strategy.  I’ve been guilty of that one.

One common scenario involves corporate learning & development departments.

Contact Centres are unique and specialized environments.  Trying to graft generic service or people management or leadership training onto the Contact Centre delivers mixed results at best.  Because it’s not specific enough to the environment in which these Team Leaders operate.

More on competencies soon.

Funny things Contact Centre Managers ask their Agents to do


4.  Team Leaders need to have lots of great conversations

If the Agent job role is to have great conversations with Customers, then the Team Leader job role is about having great conversations with the folks that they lead.

What kinds of conversations?  Wow – there are a lot – but they can be learned.

I like to cover them in people management & coaching courses.

Here is a list conversations that are specific to the Contact Centre environment and which are most often conducted by Team Leaders:

  • Praise
  • Gratitude
  • Something ‘good’
  • Something ‘not so good’
  • It’s not getting any better
  • Transaction coaching
  • Performance appraisal
  • Team reviews
  • One on one reviews
  • Boss as Leader
  • Boss as Person
  • Boss as Manager
  • Things you don’t talk about (the un-conversation)

Each of these conversations is triggered by an event or is pre-planned into a calendar.  For example Team & One on one reviews and many coaching sessions tend to be pre-scheduled while Praise or Something Good conversations happen when the Team Leader either observes something or learns about something.

As you might have figured out – most of these conversations fall into the Staff development category we covered earlier in this article.

But when Team Leaders are ‘too busy’ – the first category that gets ‘cut’ is Staff development.  Exactly the category which typically needs more time spent – not less.

How Team Leaders can talk like Leaders


5. Team Leader know-how

The Contact Centre environment is complex.

I think that’s why folks like me – who fall into it by accident –  end up making the Contact Centre and Customer Experience, a life’s passion.  There’s only ever more to learn and it’s super interesting stuff.

It’s not easy.  But Tom Hanks says that it’s ‘the hard that makes it great’.

If you want to equip your Team Leaders to succeed you need to consider equipping them with know-how across these domains:

  • Contact Centre Operations – there’s simply no excuse not to equip Team Leaders with operations mastery
  • Monitoring & Coaching – this process is key to driving Quality, FCR, Employee Engagement, Customer Satisfaction and CX strategies
  • Leadership & Engagement – what does leadership look like as a Team Leader?  How can a Team Leader use proven engagement models in their Centre?
  • People Management – for me this is about having those great conversations with the people who work for you at the right times and in the right way
  • Customer Experience – if your Centre promotes itself as fulfilling the ‘Customer Experience’ your folks deserve training on what it is (and it’s not Customer Service)
  • Self-Management – stress management, personal fulfillment, working through change – these are life skills

When your Team Leader is able to bring out the best Productivity, Quality & Qttitudes of the folks that work for them that translates into better results all the way around for you.

Thank you for reading!

Contact Centre KPIs & The Green Jaguar












How Team Leaders can talk like Leaders

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

It’s all about the conversations

When you’re managing or leading a team, it’s all about the conversations.

Some of my closest peers use the term ‘high frequency and high quality’ to describe the vital role of conversations with Team Members and that’s such a great way to put it.

Radio Frequency diagram

The challenge for Team Leaders is that  they either don’t know about the many different kinds of conversations at their disposal or they haven’t grown confident in the use of the conversations.

Some Team Leaders will tell you they don’t have time to have conversations with their Team Members which is a different challenge altogether.

There are many conversations in the Team Leader’s repertoire

Every Team Leader has a repertoire of conversations to choose from and use at the appropriate times and for the appropriate purposes.

In no particular order we share a few of these conversations here:

  • Praise
  • Gratitude
  • Monthly Team Reviews
  • Sincere & specific conversations about what went ‘right’
  • Sincere & specific conversations about ‘what did not go right’
  • Performance reviews
  • Manager as ‘boss’
  • Manager as ‘person
  • Transactional coaching
  • Individual monthly reviews
  • Poor performance
  • Personal advice (when asked for)
  • Manager as ‘Leader’

There’s a lot to talk about.

So how can a Team Leader talk like a Leader?

The simple advice is actually quite practical and links specifically back to the organizational or departmental Vision, Mission & Values.

Senior management wants the essence of the organization to cascade throughout every department and level.

So it can befrustrating for a CEO or VP of Customer Experience (etc.) to find that the folks answering the phone or serving at the Counter don’t have a basic understanding organizational goals, vision, mission and values.

While it’s to be expected that the senior folks incorporate organizational essence into their daily work, it often fails to appear in the conversations that take place between Team Leaders and the Frontline.

Vision, Mission & Values – this isn’t purely theoretical stuff

When we teach the Vision, we help people understand that this is a point in time in the future (as in our organization aims to become…).

Of course this is highly simplified for this article but still very clear.

In a recent class one of the students wanted to use Korean Airlines as a case study and here is their Vision:

The Mission of Korean Airlines

To be a Respected Leader in the World Airline Community

While the calibre of the Vision Statement is open for discussion, we decided that this indeed represented a point of time in the future – a point in time when all the dreams of Korean Air would come true.

When we teach the Mission, we help people to understand that this is what we do ‘every day’.

For example, if we are a Call Centre, we may seek to listen and solve the enquiries of our Customers in a positive manner – and that’s something we do every day – not just on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

We then went to the Mission Statement for Korean Air which is:

Excellence in Flight

While the calibre of the Mission Statement is open for discussion, we decided that excellence in flight was something that was supposed to happen ‘every day’.

We then went to Zappos to visit a few of their well-known Core Values – 3 of which are listed below:

Core values are supposed to guide our behaviour at work and when well designed they can be very inspirational.

So what do we mean by the Language of Leadership?

Cindy – I really liked the way you incorporated empathy into your email to Mr. Lawrence. That supports our mission to provide excellent service ‘every day’.

Tom – one of our core values is Teamwork – and by staying back last night to help Tanya finish her report on time you helped bring that value to life. Thanks Tom.

Alex, for the next Guest who checks in, be sure to remember to ask them if they have their loyalty card so that they can enjoy the additional benefits of staying with us – that supports our vision to be the most trusted provider of hospitality solutions for our Guests.

It’s a terrific moment when Team Leaders begin to speak like leaders.

In closing

Managing people well involves having a lot of different types of timely and effective conversations with them.

And every potential conversation in the repertoire has its own purpose.

But to speak like a leader, just look to your organizational and departmental vision, mission and values and aim to bring them to life in your conversations with others.

Thank you for reading!


Daniel Ord

New subsidy options for the industry’s best Team Leader Certification!

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

Get Contact Center industry-leading training at subsidized rates in Singapore!

Since 2014, Singapore’s Employment & Employability Institute (e2i) has endorsed and provided 50% subsidy for the OmniTouch Team Leader Series.

The Team Leader Series was designed for middle managers & professionals working in the Contact Centre & Service industries.

Leading industry figure and Head of CS at M1 shared his viewpoint with us here –



Assistant Director of SP Services Digital Contact Centre shared his viewpoint with us as well –


So we are happy to share that –

Organizations & individuals who aim to significantly develop middle management & professional capabilities now have a choice between two program & subsidy options in Singapore.

Budget figures (in Singapore Dollars) are provided at the end of this article for your easy reference


Option 1 – the complete Team Leader Series & Certification Program

Since 2014, e2i has endorsed and provided 50% subsidy for the complete Team Leader Series.

The full 6 course series was designed to equip Candidates with full mastery of their job roles in Contact Centres & Service-based environments.

Candidates complete a total of (6) 2-day workshop programs (taken in any order) – as follow:

·      Customer Experience for Team Leaders & Professionals

·      How to Monitor & Coach for Team Leaders & Professionals

·      Contact Centre Operations for Team Leaders & Professionals

·      People Management for Team Leaders & Professionals

·      How to be a Great Team Leader (aka Leadership & Engagement)

·      Managing Yourself for Team Leaders & Professionals

Each program is a Masterclass on its own and comes with its own certification exam.

In addition to these 6 programs, Candidates take (2) prescribed WSQ courses and complete (1) Work Product Assignment to demonstrate applicability to the workplace.

Typically the entire process takes 6 – 8 months or so.

Upon completion, Candidates are fully certified and their organization receives a full 50% subsidy back on the program.

Once Candidates have passed all (6) Certification exams, OmniTouch will also issue a formal ‘Work Product Assignment’ where the Candidate will be asked to share specifically – in essay format – what improvements, enhancements & positive outcomes were achieved across a variety of the domains they completed.

Most importantly, the Candidates are equipped to make a real positive impact at work – whether that’s through improved Employee engagement, superior coaching, or better understanding of how to manage operations.

No other Team Leader Series has achieved this kind of positive impact and Candidates who completed the program tell us how much difference it has made to their effectiveness as leaders.


Option 2 – the a la carte Program – choose a bundle of 1, 2, 3, 4 or even 5 courses for your Candidate

For Organizations & Individuals who aim to ‘focus in’ on particular topics, we are happy to share that a new e2i program and subsidy – effective February 2017 – is available on an a la carte basis.

The Organization first selects the Candidate (or Candidates) for development.

Then they evaluate which topic or topics they want to put the Candidate through.

So out of the 6 programs available, they choose a ‘bundle’ of either 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 programs from the list below:

·      Customer Experience for Team Leaders & Professionals

·      How to Monitor & Coach for Team Leaders & Professionals

·      Contact Centre Operations for Team Leaders & Professionals

·      People Management for Team Leaders & Professionals

·      How to be a Great Team Leader (aka Leadership & Engagement)

·      Managing Yourself for Team Leaders & Professionals

The Candidate will attend the selected programs that were chosen and at the end of program they take the relevant certification exam.  The certification exam is administered on Day 2 of the program.

They will then attend (2) prescribed WSQ modules and complete (1) Work Product Assignment assigned by OmniTouch.

The time duration for completion will be based on how many of the a la carte programs were chosen.

But we’d estimate anywhere from 1 – 2 months up to 6 months in all.  It is really driven by how many a la carte programs are selected.

Upon completion, the Organization receives back a 50% subsidy for the program.

Here’s an example –

Let’s say, the Candidate decides they want to upgrade their knowledge & skills related to Customer Experience AND Contact Centre Operations. (So two programs are selected a la carte).

So they enroll in one of our regularly scheduled runs of the 2-day Customer Experience program and they enroll in one of our regularly scheduled runs of the 2-day Contact Centre Operations program.

During the workshops they are likely to meet folks from other Organizations who are also in the certification process as well – allowing for a great exchange of ideas & inspiration.

To make every program personal and discussion oriented, we cap attendance to a maximum of 8 – 9 pax.

We believe round table discussion accomplishes a lot more than packed classrooms.

At the end of the 2-day program, they will (like everyone) take their certification exam.

Once they have passed the relevant certification exams with OmniTouch, their internal HR & Admin department will schedule them to attend the prescribed WSQ Modules.

OmniTouch will also issue a formal ‘Work Product Assignment’ where the Candidate will be asked to share specifically – in essay format – what improvements, enhancements & positive outcomes were achieved through their new understanding and development.

The Work Product Assignment will be specifically tailored to the program or programs taken by the Participant.

Once all activities are completed, the Candidate is formally certified in the particular program or set of programs.

And of course the 50% subsidy is provided back to the sponsoring Organization.

Budgets & figures

The program has been designed to be easy to use.

Here are the key process steps & figures to be aware of:

  1. Each 2-day Team Leader program retails at S$995 and is held at the OmniTouch Singapore office at regularly scheduled intervals
  2. The subsidy for each program is 50% or S$497.50 – this means that your final out of pocket figure is S$497.50 for any and all of the 2-day Workshop programs – that works out to less than S$250 per day of training.
  3. If (for example) you decide to go for a bundle of (2) of the 2-day programs the initial outlay would be 2 x S$995 = S$1,990. After completion you receive back 50% (of the S$1,990) or S$995 which means that your final out of pocket for both programs (4 days of training) is S$995.
  4. If you decide to go for the full (6) program Team Leader Series the initial outlay is 6 x S$995 = S$5,970. After completion of the program you receive back 50% (of the S$5,970) or S$2,985 which means that your final out of pocket for all 6 programs (12 days of training) is S$2,985 – less than S$250 per day.
  5. There is no charge for the Work Product Assignment – it is built into the overall design of the Team Leader Series
  6. In order to enjoy the 50% subsidy – full 100% prepayment is required before attendance at the first program. The 50% subsidy is paid back upon official completion (of all the relevant training modules, certification exams, WSQ modules and the Work Product Assignment)

As always we are here to help – just drop a line to [email protected] or message to 65 9838 2353.


[email protected] / www.omnitouchinternational.com / (65) 9838 2353