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August 25, 2013

Care and Growth in Call Centres: A Note on a Conversation with Virat Jaruchoktaweechai.

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In a conversation with khun Virat Jaruchoktaweechai who runs all of dtac’s call centres, he indicated that they had done an investigation into the 3 top performing teams in their organisation. The one team was based in Bangkok and the other two teams were based in the call centre in Chiang Mai. When I asked him what their observations were, he indicated that the critical variable that differed between the teams was the leadership given by the team leader.

He indicated the following:

On observation the first thing that became apparent is that the team leaders really do monitor and coach their front line subordinates.

I pointed out that monitoring is the equivalent of giving attention or care, and coaching is the equivalent of growth. He agreed completely.

He said:

When we observed these teams in action the first thing that became apparent was that they do not monitor their staff on a daily basis only, they actually monitored them on an hourly basis. If it became apparent that the staff member would not make their targets for the day they were immediately informed. This put the staff in the position to fix the problem or accelerate the activity that would fix the problem. Furthermore, if the staff member had a problem they can address this with the team leader directly.

I asked: “Did you find there was a difference in the level of coaching in the three teams?”

Yes definitely. However, we found that the team in Bangkok was different from the teams in Chiang Mai. We found that the team leaders in Chiang Mai spent time with their teams outside of the work context. They personally arranged parties and motivational activities for their teams. However, the team and Bangkok treat their work life and their personal life as very separate.

Khun Virat’s insight was that the most important thing that accounts for top performing teams is their immediate supervisor.

The supervisor is much more important than the next level of management. The next level can just give a direction, but the actual operation and result are in the hands of the immediate supervisor.

Khun Virat was very clear that for a supervisor to be able to do play this role he had to have real authority over his subordinates, not only the authority to discipline but also the authority to reward.

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