8 Must-Read Call Center Books

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Running a call center isn’t easy work. Schedules, call center software, and salaries all have to be set just right to make sure you’re profitable. Working at one isn’t easy either.

To help make these tasks easier, I’ve compiled a list of eight must-read call center books.

Most of these books are how-to guides, on everything from how to hire and schedule to how to deal with angry customers. Some are laser-focused on call centers, while others speak to customer service more broadly. There’s also a memoir to show you you’re not alone.

My criteria for inclusion in this list is the current edition must have been published after 2010 and the book must be reviewed and rated by readers on Goodreads.

Here they are, in alphabetical order:

1. “Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet”

Amaze Every Customer Ever Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet

Formats: Kindle, hardcover, audiobook, MP3 CD

Goodreads rating: 3.85/5 stars, 60 ratings

Shep Hyken is a New York Times bestselling business author and customer service thought leader. In his blog and books, Shep offers insights on why customer service is important with instruction on best practices.

In “Amaze Every Customer Every Time,” Shep offers 52 “amazement tools” that cover how to get organizational buy-in to empower various teams to make amazing your customers a priority. Using Ace Hardware as an example, Shep walks readers through how Ace built a company culture so customer-centric that Business Week named Ace a top ten customer service brand in the U.S. and JD Power ranks Ace Hardware highest in customer satisfaction in their industry.

2. “Call Center: A Focus on Customer Service”

Call Center: A Focus on Customer Service

Formats: Kindle, paperback

Goodreads rating: 5/5 stars, 1 rating

Gwen Oglesby has managed call center teams for Fortune 500 companies for more than 15 years. She’s delved into the call center mecca of Jacksonville, Florida to learn the dynamics, behaviors, and drivers call centers share, and to figure out what great customer service looks like in practice.

Though Gwen is a manager, “Call Center: A Focus on Customer Service” is written for the employee looking to reach their full potential. Gwen brings her experience and learning to bear on helping call center employees offer superior customer service. She also offers tips and questions to help agents grow, get recognized, and get promoted.

3. “Call Center Fundamentals: Workforce Management”

Call Center Fundamentals: Workforce Management

Formats: Paperback

Goodreads rating: 3.4/5 stars, 5 ratings

Donnie Baje is a Manila-based training manager in a call center. He also teaches MS PowerPoint, MS Word, MS Excel, and Visual Basic.

“Call Center Fundamentals: Workforce Management” focuses on the practical aspects of running an outsourced call center. You can learn how to make your agents more effective, and what you should pay them. It also answers questions such as when do you get diminishing returns on improved customer service? One Amazon reviewer writes that it’s “simple and to-the-point.” This reviewer appreciates the exercises and real-life examples.

4. “Call Center Management on Fast Forward: Succeeding in the New Era of Customer Relationships”

Call Center Management on Fast Forward: Succeeding in the New Era of Customer Relationships

Formats: Kindle, paperback

Goodreads rating: 3.77/5 stars, 93 ratings

Brad Cleveland has helped brands including American Express, Apple, Coca-Cola, USAA, and HP hone their customer strategy and management. He helped found and served as president and CEO of the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), and in 2012 won ICMI’s Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.

In “Call Center Management on Fast Forward,” Brad takes his experience and offers advice to help ensure contact center success. “A must-read for anyone connected with this industry,” writes Joan Scazzaro, director of customer service/inside sales at Bright House Networks.

5. “Call Center Optimization”

Call Center Optimization

Formats: Paperback

Goodreads rating: 5/5 stars, 1 rating

Ger Koole is a professor of applied probability at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and teaches business analytics and stochastic optimization. As a research scientist studying the control of queueing systems, he applies his findings to optimizing call centers and revenue management, among other fields. Ger also co-founded CCmath, a call center optimization company.

Ger describes “Call Center Optimization” as “a practical introduction to call center workforce management.” It’s aimed at call center managers who are responsible for forecasting, planning, and business analytics. It offers an introduction on how to improve call center performance using workload forecasting, the Erlang formulas, simulation, and more.

6. “Call Center Rocket Science: 110 Tips to Creating a World Class Customer Service Organization”

Call Center Rocket Science: 110 Tips to Creating a World Class Customer Service Organization

Formats: Kindle, paperback

Goodreads rating: 4.25/5 stars, 4 ratings

Randy Rubingh has built, managed, and led call centers for more than 25 years. In that time he managed more than 20 million incoming phone calls at startups with only five agents, as well as international customer service organizations with hundreds of agents.

“Call Center Rocket Science” offers 110 tips to help call centers raise both employee and customer satisfaction while increasing revenue and operational efficiency. Like the Dummies book below, it also includes tips for deciding whether to outsource. But “Call Center Rocket Science” was published in 2013, so the advice is slightly more up-to-date. In addition, you’ll find advice on recruiting and hiring high-quality call center workers and how to train those workers so they’re performing well from the jump.

7. “Call Centers For Dummies”

Formats: Kindle, paperback

Goodreads rating: 3.55/5 stars, 44 ratings

“Call Centers For Dummies” is written for managers in charge of North America call centers or people who aspire to that role. It focuses on how to turn a profit, measure results, run things efficiently, and increase customer satisfaction. It also has a guide to help managers decide whether outsourcing will be profitable.

Goodreads readers appreciate the clarity and simplicity of the writing. Be aware, however, that the book was last updated in 2010. So if you’re looking for a technological guide, this isn’t it.

8. “Off the List: Undocumented in an Outsourced Call Center”

Formats: Kindle, paperback

Goodreads rating: 3.63/5 stars, 8 ratings

Part genre ethnography and part memoir, “Off the List” is Nell Brewer’s account of what it’s like for a U.S. citizen to work as an illegal alien in a call center for a U.S. company based in Costa Rica.

People who work in call centers enjoyed the book on Goodreads. For example, Manfred Grill writes, “I chose it because I worked for one of the largest wireless carriers in a call center setting for 11+ years and we only outsourced within the U.S. I wanted to compare it to my experiences in this environment as well as against the times I’ve had to call a credit card company etc… and knew the call was going outside the U.S.”

Which books did I miss?

What are some other call center must-reads? Let me know your favorites in the comments below.

To further up your game, consider upgrading your call center software. Here are some resources:

Top 20 Most Affordable Call Center Software

5 Free and Open Source Call Center Software Products to Try Today

What is Call Center Software and Do I Really Need It?

9 Predictive Dialer Twitter Accounts and Resources for Sales Reps

Looking for Call Center software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Call Center software solutions.

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About the Author

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz helps B2B software companies with their sales and marketing at Capterra. Her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. She has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine and has been a columnist at Bitcoin Magazine. Her media appearances include Fox News and Al Jazeera America. If you're a B2B software company looking for more exposure, email Cathy at cathy@capterra.com . To read more of her thoughts, follow her on Twitter.

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