Nearly 80% of your agents come to work without knowing what is expected of them.
Too many business leaders view the contact center as a cost center, so the development and investment in agent performance are no longer considered. The less money in the contact center and the more results your CS team offers, your business results will be better.
I’m going to go for it and give that a big no.
The wrong perception of more excellent products and better results prevents contact centers from reaching their full potential. And it happens so often because not all business leaders see the contact center through the manager’s lens.
Good managers know that the way to improve performance and reduce costs isn’t by cutting budgets and increasing your agents’ workload. Plus, great managers know it’s on them to coach agents to improve their performance and get a better return on call center investment.
Exceptional performance is achieved only when you set clear goals, provide regular feedback, and make surface progress to your team. When your team doesn’t know what is expected of them or how they’re meeting (or missing) those expectations, you can’t achieve the team’s and company’s goals.
Today, we’ll look at how to overcome stuck agent performance with four steps to invest in your team and increase call center ROI.
1. Monitor and view agent performance statistics in real-time.
Choose the three most important metrics for your business results and monitor them daily with performance dashboards and tiles. Communicate briefly with your agents about the KPIs they need to refine and use reporting tools to show the real-time statistics.
Consider the following criteria when choosing the metrics to help you amplify ROI in your call center:
Choose which metrics your systems can automatically measure. When you rely on people to put information into your plans, your data is inconsistent at best.
Identify the metrics you can measure regularly. Sporadic reports and monthly measurements don’t give you the information you need to make clear decisions about improving agent performance.
You have to ensure sure your agents can personally influence each metric. Parameters such as service level and first contact resolution are difficult for agents to control. While they can adjust the speed at which they answer the phone or how well they help customers, they can’t change the number of their coworkers who get sick or how many times a customer reached out for help before phoning them. Rather than bringing standard metrics like this to your team, opt for performance metrics that any agent can move.
Real-time reporting gives agents a wealth of knowledge about their performance. They see how every interaction they handle affects the results of your core business. They gain constant insight into how they achieve (or fall short) of the team and individual goals (or falling short) to resolve issues that hold them back proactively.
2. Communicate the root cause of your standards and performance indicators.
It’s easy. We are curious creatures. When you ask your agents to make a change, their natural response is to ask, “why?” Instead of leaving lingering doubts that drum up uncertainty, clarify the drivers behind each performance metric you choose.
Answer these questions clearly and concisely when deploying new daily performance metrics for your team:
What do you want agents to learn by reviewing their daily stats?
Why is it essential for them to understand these statistics and their progress?
If agents don’t meet performance standards, what will you do to help?
And why is it crucial that agents consistently achieve their KPIs?
3. Use the daily performance data you collect to strengthen 1: 1 coaching.
If you often coach to clarify goals, expectations, and performance, agents know where to improve. And they love to do it.
Leadership commitment is essential to the success of performance management. When managers come to performance interviews with real data to support their conversations, agents have a clear picture of where they can improve. When you provide insightful comments and suggestions based on the data you’ve uncovered, agents learn how to improve.
What else? When managers have reliable data to praise agents for a job well done, performance continues to increase. A happy cop is someone who knows he is okay (and who knows others know too).
4. Earn FTE hours from agents and use them elsewhere
To take agent performance to the next level and increase your call center ROI, the performance metrics you choose to need to have a measurable impact on your bottom line.
We like to quantify ROI in terms of agent hours or if you’re looking for the dollar sign, your workforce’s FTE costs.
Because you can link metrics like active contact resolution and average handling time directly to business costs, like agent hours and cost per contact, these are simple metrics to start your performance management plan and bolster call center ROI. What happens if your FCR drops by 1%? What about AHT?
Here’s an example:
Suppose your AHT lasts five minutes for a phone call is five minutes. Average salary data puts an agent’s hourly rate at $ 17. Hence, your five-minute handling time assigns a price of around $ 1.40 to each interaction. (In terms of agency alone – it doesn’t consider the cost of tools, supervisors, IT, and physical expenses.)
Now think about how incremental improvement in your AHT can reduce your agency hours (and associated costs). Suppose you have a team of 100 agents; they each handle 50 phone calls a day and working 250 days a year. The five-minute lead time costs you approximately $ 1.75 million in FTE agent costs per year. Reduce your AHT by only 5%, get 6,000 agent hours, and reduce FTE costs by $ 70,000.
The more your agents improve the AHT, the less you spend their hourly rate for each conversation. And, the more time your agents have to pay on other parts of the business (or to take a well-deserved vacation).
So, how do we know that performance management is driving up call center ROI?
We have tested this performance management framework with a few of our clients.
Our friends from the Sandia Area Federal Credit Union shared the legacy data with us (and their team). Then they show three critical metrics for their agents: telling them when to pay attention to each.
Within a short 12-day window of showing agents their active contact resolution, the contact center saw a collective 5% increase in solutions (with fewer customer reminders on repeated issues for the entire following month).
And now the ACR has gone from 69% to averages in the high 70th-percentile. Some days they reached an ACR of over 90%.