The Changing Role of Supervisors

Studies from ICMI and others suggest there are more supervisors today – proportionally and in real numbers – than ever. With today’s developments – emerging channels, proliferation of social media, the competitive importance of customer relationships, and the wide range of generations our customers represent – supervisors have become increasingly important to the contact center’s success. But it is a role that is much more about communication, coordination and development than any industrial-era vestiges of command and control.supervisors

Some of the trends of the changing role of supervisors include:

From individual coaching and training to process improvement. Monitoring and coaching remain the two most time-consuming activities for most supervisors. But they are increasingly involved in leveraging the knowledge gained from these efforts into more lasting and significant process improvements. For example, they are spending less time making improvements one agent at a time – the “personal trainer” approach – and more time working with their peers in other areas to improve training, information, communication and procedures throughout the organization.

From enforcing to enabling adherence. There’s a big difference between supervisor as traffic cop and supervisor as liaison who works with both the agent teams and those who do the planning and scheduling, to make sensible decisions and adjustments.

From merely implementing to actively participating in contact center planning and management. When supervisors are involved in forecasting, scheduling and other planning processes, they not only contribute their perspective, they also gain a better understanding of the factors that contribute to service level and quality. As a result, they more effectively supervise their teams.

Voice of the customer and cross-functional improvements. As more contact centers capture and use customer input to shape products, processes and services, supervisors are taking a more active role in organizationwide improvement efforts. This trend will likely continue as contact centers become increasingly important hubs of communication for internal and external customers.

Read more about the supervisor job role in Brad’s article “The Essential Role of Today’s Front Line Managers.”