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Customer support and CX have undergone radical transformations over the last few decades. Advanced technologies have given rise to the advent of online shopping, which resulted in the need for more integrated support processes for e-commerce and SaaS companies. The key to building a successful customer support dream team in this ever-evolving CX landscape lies in appointing the right local management role, often referred to as a “team captain” or a “shift lead”. But what exactly does the role entail? And how does it benefit my business or the customers they serve?

What is a team captain?

First, let’s understand what a team captain is. As a designation, there is a bit of an overlap between team captain, shift lead, team lead, shift supervisor, and shift manager. While there are similarities, there are also notable or company-specific differences to each. Being conscious about the terminology we use, we refer to this position as a Team Captain or TC.

A team captain plays a pivotal role in the day-to-day management of their teams, serving as a point of escalation for issues beyond the authority of the first contact person in the support chain.

Their responsibilities usually span people management, performance quality management, coaching, logistics, internal coordination, and external communications. They are tasked with monitoring and assessing team performance, providing timely feedback, ensuring proper training, and meeting company and client-specific KPI targets. Our Team Captains also facilitate culture building, foster growth and development, and demonstrate mastery of our company and client offerings.

Typical must-haves for potential candidates:

  • Three years supervisory experience in a support-related field
  • General understanding of content moderation
  • Knowledge of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and cloud-based applications
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Aptitude for quickly learning and navigating new technology
  • Ability to accept feedback gracefully and with an open mind
  • Relevant educational background is an advantage

When it comes to managing global customer experience teams, leadership is paramount. Here are 5 reasons why your CX team could be missing a confident team captain to take their performance to the next level:

First-hand CX experience to aid Quality Assurance (QA) monitoring

Team captains are regarded as first-tier managers who have worked in the support industry, which means they have first-hand experience and can relate to most scenarios. This prior knowledge and exposure to support processes and procedures enables them to enhance the experience for customers as well as team members. At this stage of their careers, they should also know what a great CX team looks like.

Knowing what good looks like, team captains can take ownership of organizational goals or the overall CX strategy and turn those into a reality. They are tasked with implementing and monitoring quality assurance protocols, conducting regular performance assessments, and providing constructive feedback where needed. For newbies, team captains are usually the first port-of-call on more complex tickets. Beyond being available for assistance and coaching, they can evaluate emails and calls every week to assess each team member’s engagement with clients.

Maintain highly engaged teams across different time zones

According to a Gallup study, only 23% of employees worldwide are engaged at their place of work. The study also revealed that nearly 60% of workers are quiet-quitting and more than half are actively looking for another job. In the CX outsourcing world, attrition can go as high as 60%, which means that a committed CX team captain could directly improve your retention. A high retention rate translates to reduced costs in recruiting and training new hires, as well as knowledge or skill retention that ultimately improves the overall customer experience.

ALSO READ: How can high retention rates maximize business success?

Global CX teams often span multiple time zones, making real-time collaboration challenging. Maintaining consistent service quality across diverse locations requires meticulous oversight. While remote working and advanced technology have made this easier, it is still difficult to manage teams across borders. Our team captains serve as the nexus by coordinating and synchronizing team activities, thereby ensuring seamless transitions between shifts. This means that your internal resources aren’t under strain because your team members don't have to be up at all hours of the day supporting the team. Your in-house team gets their nights and weekends back, while business carries on as usual.

Coaching, onboarding, and future hiring

Team captains offer a helpful layer for future hiring and onboarding. They already understand the client’s tools, processes, and systems, which makes them the first line of QA hiring before endorsing the candidate to the client’s hiring manager. Their strategic and tactical understanding of what kind of team is required to deliver on the client’s SLAs, significantly benefits and streamlines this part of the hiring process. They also possess invaluable insights into the team's dynamics and operational requirements, which makes them instrumental in identifying suitable candidates and facilitating their integration into the team.

Their involvement in the onboarding process enables seamless knowledge transfer and accelerated acculturation of new team members, minimizing disruptions and maximizing productivity. Through intensive coaching sessions and skills sharing, they provide a creative learning environment for new hires. By coaching and training those struggling with specific tasks and listening to the team’s feedback, our team captains can filter valuable information through to the CXM. This proactive approach not only improves the efficiency of the hiring and onboarding processes but also alleviates the workload of internal points of contact (POCs), enabling them to focus on strategic initiatives and core responsibilities.

The first contact for conflict resolution and escalation handling

Cultural differences and diverse perspectives can lead to conflicts. In the event of work-related disputes or confrontational situations that need to be resolved, team captains automatically become the first point of escalation. Their goal is to neutralize conflict within teams without negatively impacting the customer experience.

Team captains are often called upon when something goes awry or when complex customer issues require immediate attention and specialized knowledge. They act as the first line of escalation by making decisions and guiding team members in resolving intricate problems as promptly as possible because a speedy resolution ensures that the company’s reputation remains intact. We have seen team members in their nesting stage consulting their team captains for nearly 50% of the tickets they handle, which often include escalations. With some of our clients, team captains close nearly 80% of escalations before getting escalated to their in-house teams.

Proficiency in data analysis, reporting, and resource optimization

Collating and analyzing data from different regions is integral for continuous improvement. The varying hours of operation for a global CX team means that this part of the process is vital for planning, especially for tech, SaaS, and e-commerce startups facing seasonal ramps or growth periods. Team captains should leverage analytical tools to provide insightful reports to upper management for strategic decision-making. 

Optimizing resources across different time zones is a logistical challenge. Where resources are wasted or not applied thoughtfully, it can increase costs unnecessarily. The strategic allocation of resources ensures optimal coverage during peak support hours and enables the team captain to streamline the team’s workflows while maximizing their performance. In leveraging analytical tools and optimizing resources, our team captains always find creative ways to enhance processes and procedures, trim costs for our clients, and improve the experience for their customers.

The above delegation of tasks ensures that internal teams can leverage their expertise to address nuanced challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities in the support world. As a result, businesses can maintain a competitive edge and stay ahead of industry trends while delivering exceptional customer experiences that drive loyalty and revenue. By entrusting Boldr’s team captains with these five points, our clients and their stakeholders have been able to redirect their attention to activities that drive innovation, focus on customer satisfaction, and foster long-term business growth.

Get the right help before globalizing your CX team

We have encountered numerous examples within our teams where the role of team captains cannot be overstated. They bring a wealth of customer support experience and possess a nuanced understanding of different cultures and customer engagement. As they often operate independently, they serve as the linchpin in managing and unifying teams scattered across various locations, ultimately promoting a cohesive and harmonious work environment within teams.

For our growing e-commerce, SaaS, or tech start-up clients that are eyeing expansion, the inclusion of adept team captains who understood the finer points of each market was a game-changer. Their ability to navigate the intricacies of diverse markets, coupled with their skill in managing remote teams, ensured a smooth scaling process during these growth periods.

The assistance of an ethical outsourcing partner can help you navigate some of the pitfalls associated with expanding support teams. By leveraging their expertise, businesses can seamlessly build out their CX teams across the globe, strategically placing team captains to oversee operations. This collaborative approach ensures that the outsourced team functions as a natural extension of the in-house team, which creates a unified and customer-centric approach that aligns with a company's ethos and goals. For more information on finding the right team captain for your CX team, reach out to us.

James Fouche is the Content Manager at Boldr, as well as an author and a columnist. He is passionate about making a change and sharing his love of reading and writing with others.