Leading Through Crisis in a Contact Centre

Posted by on Jan 13, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

Leading Through Crisis in a Contact Centre

Love them or hate them, contact centres like many businesses are under immense pressure to deal with significantly increased customer engagement.

Guest blogger Barbara Lawther explains how contact centre leaders can help their teams through the pandemic and beyond.

In an industry that is often criticised for long waiting times and poor responses, the additional challenge for those handling calls, chat, emails and enquiries through social media is like every day is a Black Friday shopping day, which has gone on for months.

Pressure to handle call after call, answer email after email, respond to tweet after tweet with a smile on your face, empathy in your voice and to handle every contact with accuracy and care, is a hard ask.

With so many people complaining while hiding behind their social media accounts, it can be difficult not to take it personally. For the staff doing these roles, and those managing them, they too have the worries that this virus has brought whilst also trying to do their job.

Photo by Arlington Research on Unsplash

Customers need consistency and empathy more than ever. Employees need support and leadership more than ever.

In these times, customers are stressed and very worried, and that makes all the interactions with often a faceless contact centre and automated processes even harder for them. Businesses have had to pivot from having teams of staff in one big office, to setting up remote working across employees’ homes.

Due diligence for safety and security of both staff and customers has been paramount.

Many companies have made changes in weeks that would normally be planned over years. Leading and managing remote workers is very different from an office based environment. Team work, friendships and camaraderie – often the biggest positives of working in a contact centre have been stripped away.

Unsure of how to manage remote workers, many leaders turn to increased micromanagement which puts more pressure on those connecting with customers.

Leading in a consistent, open and trusting approach will be the biggest challenge for most contact centre businesses.

From experience there are several key things we can do as leaders:

  • Be open – we don’t have all the answers or a crystal ball


  • Consistency – ensure message and our behaviours are calm and responsive


  • Enable – let your teams do what they are good at, providing them with support and encouragement not micromanagement


  • Solve – solve problems as they arise using resources who are best to assist and do this



  • Co-create – solutions and communication together


  • Sleep, eat, water, breath – yes when we are under pressure then these are all the vital things we should do, but don’t!


And as customers, what can we do? We want empathy and support when we call or chat with a contact centre – maybe we can also give some of this to those trying to help us. From experience that is really appreciated.

Barbara Lawther has more than 20 years working globally with contact centres and leaders. Barbara is a Mentor and Coach for Operational Leadership. Get in touch with her via LinkedIn.

Find out more about Status Social’s social media customer service training and support.

Photos by Arlington Research on Unsplash.

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