Contact-Center Career Advice from Experts

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Often, working in a contact center, call center or help desk and support department is considered a less-than-desirable job role. In fact, most people stumble into positions and/or careers in contact centers. That said, here is some advice from contact-center professionals concerning a management career in a contact center:


Kelly Costen, technical support manager, Verio Inc., said that the best advice he received was from fellow supervisor concerning her management style. “I have always been a shy person. When I first became a supervisor, I was having a difficult time dealing with a certain employee. I didn’t want to confront him. A fellow supervisor told me, ‘If you can’t deal with a problem employee and can’t tell him to shape up or get out, you shouldn’t be in management,’” he explained. “My favorite phrase for this is ‘emotional fortitude.’ You must be able to handle difficult situations with employees or you shouldn’t be in management.”


Dennis Migel, vice president, Toronto contact center, Scotiabank, said that the best advice he ever received in regard to his career was “to accept reasonable transfers to other geographic areas to gain insight to various areas/departments of the bank.”


Penny Reynolds, senior partner, The Call Center School, said if she were to give advice to a professional seeking a position in a contact center or to a professional currently working in the field, it would be to perform a self-assessment of what his or her strengths and weaknesses are. “If they are currently in a call-center environment, they should do some sort of training skills-gap analysis,” she said. “Some people are very strong as supervisors, some are strong in their people management, but don’t really know about the operations side of call centers. You have others that are strong on the operations side that doesn’t know people management. Or they are strong at operations, but don’t have the leadership/business background for the business-school aspects like strategic planning, organizational design or contract negotiation. So, first is really to do self-assessments of where do I have strengths and where do I have weaknesses.”


Jay Minnucci, vice president of consulting for the International Customer Management Institute and former contact-center professional, said if he were to give advice to a professional working in this job role or industry, it would be to realize that contact center management is a discipline rather than just another division within an organization. “A contact center is a discipline within another organization that has other disciplines, and you can separate yourself from a lot of other people if you recognize that,” he said. “There is a lot you can learn about contact centers and if you learn it, it is a distinct advantage compared to a lot of other people in your organization. It also gives you the responsibilities of making other individuals aware of how important a contact center is and how difficult they are to run successfully.”

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