How Hybrid Working Is Changing The Role Of The Customer Service Team Leader Forever – Natalie Calvert, Founder, CX High Performance, discuses how the ‘traditional’ contact centre may have become a thing of the past.
We are in the midst of a work revolution. Post-Covid, and post-working from home, the future is hybrid: teams combining the benefits of their office space with those they have found in remote working.
It’s also a way of working which most organisations have no experience with, and it leaves your team leaders in a situation they have never been in before. That’s because the role of the Team Leader, perhaps more than any other, is one which needs to quickly adapt to this entirely new way of working.
There are many universal leadership skills we always cultivate in traditional management training: communication, strategic thinking and vision will never lose their value in the workplace. However, our new hybrid way of working, particularly in contact centres, has given way to a host of new specialisms which Team Leaders must hone in order for your business to excel in the new normal. Here are some of the most important skills which your Team Leaders need to develop now…
1. Omni-channel leadership will improve the customer experience
Traditional workflows previously relied on a single channel method of communication: for example, over the phone or by email.
However, in 2021, one customer will use and interact with a company via many channels – often simultaneously. That means that team leaders must organise the day-to-day workflow in a way which is both fair to the team, and delivers a better, fully integrated customer experience at the same time.
Today, it’s arguably the number one way to create a quality customer culture, even when remote.
2. Mastering ‘6th sense leadership’ is the key to successful remote work
Perhaps the most common critique of hybrid and remote work is that managers must lead teams who they can’t physically see in the same building.
Naturally, this presents its own challenges. While traditional workplaces meant that communication about work could often happen spontaneously and casually, be it over making a coffee or by bumping into someone in the corridor, now, it’s vital that Team Leaders now get all key work communication across in other, planned ways.
This means making communication methods a priority, as well as ensuring official messages are distributed and no longer left to chance encounters.
Knowledge Management plays a strong enabling role here. It also means that Team Leaders must grow their trust in their team: according to the Harvard Business Review.
Many managers have struggled during the pandemic to effectively manage their team while remote, and this has resulted in many employees feeling micromanaged.
Cultivating 6th sense leadership will not only give Team Leaders and Managers confidence but also enable them to spot early on well-being issues.
3. Grow empathetic leadership
With staff divided by distance, the ability to really understand the needs of your team has never been more important.
Amongst other benefits, empathy has been shown to boost productivity in a team, while Google’s ‘Project Aristotle’ research found that it also fostered teams which were both more collaborative and successful.
It’s critical in a hybrid environment for leaders to grow trust and empathy with both their team and customers. To do this, Team Leaders must instigate specific new ways of connecting with their colleagues – using new techniques to develop a culture of respect, understanding and support.
4. Make collaborative leadership a priority
Communication is the most powerful tool a Team Leader has. When it’s done well, it achieves exponential results.
But when communication is poor, it can be damaging, reduce engagement and quickly brew trouble throughout an entire team. The answer, for hybrid work? Cross-functional collaboration, optimised to be online.
Team Leaders require urgent support
All of these new directions mean that Team Leaders, arguably more than anyone in your organisation, need support now.
While Senior Managers are understandably occupied with navigating strategic decisions across the wider business in an unprecedented economic landscape, Middle and Junior Team Leaders are also grappling with how to manage their teams in this new environment – but with no experience.
It’s no surprise when the pandemic has quickly forced all businesses to make rapid changes to how they work – in fact, in a recent study which looked at the financial services sector, a huge 84% of UK HR leaders said their business was facing a skills crisis.
I see a lot of Team Leaders who have done their best to adapt to these new challenges, but I also see many more who are struggling to keep up without adequate new training, and who have even reverted to acting more like Senior Advisors as a result.
Natalie Calvert is Founder of CX High Performance.
Natalie’s expertise and proven track record extends across 100+ customer service and sales organisations reaching over 200,000 employees across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the USA.
Natalie is a leading independent CX+EX authority and is the trusted ‘go-to person’ with UK and international clients.
For additional information on CX High Performance view their Company Profile