By Katie Raymond
A snow company’s call center is naturally going to be very stressful. Controlling a call center and ensuring its success can be a daunting task for any leader; but with positive thinking it can be done.
The myth that if a customer can’t call the owner signifies the relationship has evaporated is false. Customers can maintain great friendliness with the top people and still use a call center when they have a complaint. Without a call center, the owner and plow personnel end up being the people fielding the calls, and that is a major safety issue. Operating equipment and being in contact with a livid customer is a recipe for an accident.
Following are some things to consider when implementing a call center for your snow operations:
- One of the most prominent signs of a fruitful ckatieall center is the one that can efficiently function, with regard to budget and employee hours, and still sustain a very high call volume. Great call center managers know how to schedule their employees to try to avoid any one person or the same few people getting overtime week after week. The idea is to hire enough talented people that you can spread them out during the inclement weather to create a schedule that works to the benefit of the company as well as the employees who are going to run the distance with you all winter long.
- One advantage that any snow call center can offer to employees and potential employees is that of flexibility. When the snow comes, people will be needed to answer phones around the clock, which means all hours are open. It is important though to know your state’s minimum hourly shift requirements so that you don’t underutilize someone to the point of breaking the law.
- One important thing every call center coordinator should have is realistic expectations. You may not retain the same people due to scheduling, life changes, etc., returning winter after winter. If you do —great — you’re blessed! But most call centers experience turnover. The key is not to focus on the turnover, but rather focus during the hiring process each fall on bringing someone in similar to someone valued that you may have lost. In this way, a call center can still be successful season after season without always retaining the same people.
- Another important idea for call center coordinators to implement is live, in person coaching. A lot of technology is available these days to remotely listen to call center representative’s phone calls, and a lot of that technology is wonderful. To connect and really get through to employees though, sometimes it is better to sit next to them (not too close during a call) to see how the call is going. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Many times I have found that nodding when one of my representatives says something awesome gives their confidence a boost and makes them less nervous that I am sitting there. A lot of times once the call ends I will provide positive feedback as well as constructive feedback to the representative to have a better call next time. Always thrive on the positive during a snow event because you want your employees to feel the drive to keep improving and serving your valued customers.
Katie Raymond works for Case Snow Management and is a member of the Snow Business editorial advisory committee. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.