Best practices for managing agent performance is one of the most talked about topics amongst contact center professionals. It just so happens that contact center performance management is among the most misunderstood and undervalued applications in the contact center manager’s toolbox.
Many contact center professionals will agree that the application of performance management principles can be very challenging and difficult to implement. Legacy systems, broken processes and limited resources (time, budget, and labor) can make performance management improvements an afterthought.
The truth is, contact center performance management (CCPM) software could be the most effective tool available for a contact center to manage its costs and have the most effective agents.
According to Ventana Research an overwhelming 86% of respondents noted, “improving the customer experience” as a key driver for improving agent performance. The customer experience and agent performance go hand-in-hand and having the appropriate strategy defined is critical to success.
Data to support key agent performance metrics comes from a variety of software platforms and legacy systems, and the need for a unified dashboard is more critical now than ever. As the number of tools used within the contact center grows, the ability to manage all the information manually or with Excel becomes a burden and cost prohibitive due to the analysis and reporting time necessary.
Many organizations also struggle to get started with performance management because they try to do too much, all at once. The amount of information available can be very overwhelming. The importance of this information depends on your line of business and goals. This “big data” problem has been the buzz lately and to compound things further, the contact center creates more data and related information than most other business units combined.
Performance management software is designed to solve many of these challenges while empowering employees with relevant performance information and defined indicators with incentives to work towards business and contact center goals.
When setting performance goals you need to start with the company mission statement. Try to align the contact center and agent goals with this mission statement. This may require some creative thinking. You may not be successful on the first try but the key is to take time for necessary retrospective and try to understand how things can be improved going forward. This continuous improvement mentality will ensure that you are always looking for ways to get better, and ways to take the customer experience to the next level.
Once you’ve set goals, you can then define the key indicators that will be necessary to monitor progress towards the newly set goals. Understanding the difference between the KPI’s will be critical to making adjustments when things don’t go according to plan. If your goals included an “unprecedented customer service experience,” then quality and service level metrics may be more important than revenue or first call resolution (FCR). The point here is to define metrics that are not in conflict with your goals.
Now it’s time to establish the appropriate feedback loop and how to interact with key stakeholders using the right information. One of the key features of performance management is the ability to automate the reporting on key metrics needed to shorten the feedback cycle. Establishing the appropriate cadence for measuring the results will vary depending on your organization and the goals that have been set. The annual performance review should not be the first time an agent hears about problems identified within their metrics. The feedback loop must be shortened and agents must be constantly coached. Even the best agents need structure and constructive criticism.