Ready to level up your contact center team?
Improving call center agent performance can seem overwhelming, and you might wonder where to start. Don’t fret — the simple suggestions and methods discussed in this guide will get you started. With some hard work, consistency, and great tools, your team will soon reach new heights of operational efficiency!
Set your KPIs
You can’t change what you don’t measure. Decide on five to seven KPIs and set goals to measure your agents’ performances. This will allow you to establish a performance baseline and track their improvement.
Common KPIs for contact center agents can include average handle time (AHT), first call resolution (FCR), and customer satisfaction score (CSat).
Establish Your KPI Tracking Methods
If you don’t already have a system to track agent performance, it’s time to upgrade. Your current contact center platform may have analytics features to track agent activity, but it’s not the only method available. Surveying your agents and gaining qualitative feedback can help you identify gaps in your operational processes, especially when compared with quantitative data.
The 4 Most Important Call Center Agent Performance Metrics
1. Agent Satisfaction
Gone are the days when occupancy rate and average handle time were used to browbeat agents. The customer service industry is evolving and hasn’t looked back. We’re hoping that CX leaders realize the key to outstanding service is ensuring their employees are happy.Gone are the days when occupancy rate and AHT ruled the roost. CX leaders are finally realizing the key to outstanding service is happy employees. #cctr #cx Click To Tweet
You can implement as many processes, procedures, and incentives as you like, and they’ll all crumble in the face of one unengaged employee. Look after your people. They’re the key to your contact center’s success, and agent satisfaction needs to be at the heart of everything you do.
2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
But it’s also a great way to measure your agents’ performance, so don’t forget to ask customers: “How satisfied are you with the service you received?”
Unsurprisingly, when you have happy and productive people working for you, they pass on that love to your customers, and CSAT goes up. Hurt people hurt people, and happy people help people. Simple.
3. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net promoter score is an ingenious way of measuring how customers feel. Chances are, people won’t be able to gauge ‘satisfaction’ in anything more than a nominal way. But it’s far easier to make a call on whether you would recommend this product or service to friends and family.One of the secret ingredients to excellent customer satisfaction is reducing friction at every point. Customer Effort Score is a great way to do this. #cctr #cx #ces Click To Tweet
You can also ask for an NPS rating after a customer interacts with a rep by asking: “How likely are you to recommend our brand after talking with this agent?”
It’s important to remember that people don’t read carefully. So — as with all post-contact measures — not all low scores are directly related to the agent’s performance. Let’s put the humanity (and reality) back into KPIs and avoid the meaningless sliding scales. I’m personally in favour of a more straightforward NPS system: Yes or No.
And for agents, I would suggest reframing it to: “Would you want to speak with this agent again?”
4. Customer Effort Score (CES)
Customer effort is a reasonably new metric in the call center; it measures the impact of the obstacles customers are met with when seeking customer service. It’s no surprise that reducing friction at every point is one of the secret ingredients to excellent customer satisfaction.
Whether they’re making a purchase or getting an answer from a human being, the idea is to alleviate hurdles, minimizing the effort required by the customer to get what they want.
CES is a good measure of how willing the agent is to go above and beyond the call of duty. But remember, ‘effort’ is as subjective as ‘satisfaction.’ People’s expectations of how much effort they’ll have to exert to get something will vary wildly.
As with many of these call center metrics, CES is a good indicator, but rife with nuance.
Other Common Agent Performance Metrics
These are the more traditional metrics for call center agent performance. We call them ‘operational metrics’ because that’s what they’re really for. They’re able to indicate how your agents or team is operating but are less useful for telling you why something is happening or how to improve.
Occupancy Rate/Auxiliary Time
Occupancy rate is a crucial metric in the call center and a great indicator of how busy your agents are. Still, many managers use this back to front. It’s common for leadership to equate high occupancy and ‘auxiliary time’ (time not working) with agents who are wasting time not working.
But the real value of occupancy rate — if you’re looking to improve agent performance — is forecasting demand and ensuring that agents aren’t overworked. If your occupancy is consistently too high, expect both CSAT and agent satisfaction to sink.
Schedule Adherence is another older metric that can still be a useful measure of agent attendance. Set a lower bar for schedule adherence, ensure everyone on the team knows what it is, and then determine why agents are missing the mark. Likely, it’s because they’re struggling with something else, too, and need help.
Escalation Rate is another operational KPI in the call center that can be used to measure agent efficacy. If an agent escalates more inquiries than the expected average, it probably needs your attention. Likely, the issue isn’t laziness on the agents’ part but a breakdown in your internal processes.
The agent could perhaps improve with better training. But it could also be that you haven’t empowered them to resolve the issues they’re facing. That could also mean something on your front end is broken, impacting the customer experience and your agent performance.
Understanding Call Center Agent Performance Metrics
To their detriment, many legacy call center managers take a ‘nose to the grindstone’ approach towards agent performance metrics.
A better approach is to focus on improving agent satisfaction. You will soon find that all other metrics fall into line because happy people help other people.
It’s best if you utilize multiple channels to collect this data. Most contact center software will include analytics, which you can use to measure the activity of your contact center agents over your chosen period of time (6 months, for example). Surveys are also a great way to collect insightful data.
By comparing your support agents’ performance against your KPIs, you can draw valuable insights into your team’s productivity and identify any gaps in your existing process.
Important Considerations When Evaluating Metrics
1. Collect both quantitative and qualitative data
Don’t just fixate on numbers. While quantitative data can offer hard facts, qualitative data can give you the story behind those facts, giving you a better understanding as to why your KPIs stand where they are. Talk to your team about the results and identify the gaps together.
- Quantitative Data – Data that provides numerical data, such as average handle time.
- Qualitative Data – Data that needs interpretation such as employee feedback.
2. Compare KPIs against one another
By analyzing your KPIs against each other, you will gain better insights into how different parts of your operation affect one another. For instance, a low average handle time (AHT) combined with low customer satisfaction rates may indicate that your agents are efficient when working on a call, but their quality of service may not be up to standard.
3. Use Call-Backs to support your agents and your KPIs
When calls are spiking, and agents are overwhelmed, everyone suffers: customers are stuck on hold, agents feel stressed and your KPIs bottom out. Supporting your staff and operations with call-backs is a great solution. When you offer callers a call-back at a quieter time, you reduce hold time, lower agent stress and improve metrics that matter like CSat scores. Everybody wins!
8 Tips to Give Better Feedback and Improve Agent Performance
Each of your agents has strengths and weaknesses, so making department-wide changes isn’t a solution on its own. Implementing new tools and processes to address gaps in the call center can help, but remember that feedback can help empower and motivate an agent to provide exceptional work.
Cultivating a culture where everyone embraces both positive and constructive feedback can help bolster your contact center’s productivity. A great rule to follow is to praise in public, and critique in private. This way, every agent knows where they stand and how they can improve their performance.
Feedback sessions don’t always have to happen in a formal evaluation setting. Giving positive feedback to an agent as soon as you see them succeed will help them feel appreciated. On the flip side, if you see an agent making a mistake, consider taking them aside and letting them know while it’s still fresh in their memory.
Here are some additional tips for one-on-one evaluations with your agents:
1. Begin with a self-assessment
Invite your agent to assess their own performance and customer service first. Let them fill out a scorecard template and answer general questions about their work.
This gives your agents a chance to take the lead in their growth with your business. It can also help them practice self-awareness in their work and identify areas for improvement, creating a more collaborative dynamic between agent and manager.
2. Be specific
Ensure your agent understands the feedback they’re given. If it’s too ambiguous, they may leave the meeting feeling confused about next steps, or wondering what they did wrong. Providing examples can be helpful but be sure to keep the tone of your conversation positive and action-oriented.
3. Be consistent
There’s nothing worse than getting conflicting feedback from your manager, especially when it comes to your performance. Show that you are invested in your team’s growth and development by building on discussions from previous evaluations, and acknowledging any improvements they have made in their performance.
4. Use evidence and business intelligence
When providing constructive feedback to your agent, make sure they know where it’s coming from. Avoid making blanket statements without evidence.
Business intelligence, or BI, analyzes your metrics and turns the data into actionable items. Call center agent scorecards are also great tools to show agents how their performance looks throughout calls. You can accurately fill out scorecards using technology such as real-time call monitoring.
5. Offer learning opportunities
Training isn’t just for new hires! Providing additional training and coaching sessions for your agents throughout their career with your contact center will help them widen their skill-sets and improve their daily performance. Plus, it shows them that their employer is willing to invest in them, which is always great for morale.
6. Don’t just focus on numbers
When you have easy access to so much data about your agents’ performance, it can be easy to get caught up in the metrics. While KPIs are important, it’s so important to also recognize their achievements by providing excellent customer support and solving challenging issues. Review customer service call recordings regularly and take note of their successes in addition to shortcomings and challenges
7. Consider implementing these processes to support agent evaluations
Two-way feedback — When you encourage two-way evaluations, you get a very clear picture of the challenges your agents face and ideas on how to resolve them.
Self-evaluations — By encouraging your agents to evaluate their own performances, you empower them to address any challenges in their performance on their own.
8. Identify strengths and celebrate them
Some agents might perform lower when it comes to handle time and first call resolution while achieving high CSAT scores. This indicates that customers love chatting with them and they are providing exceptional customer experiences. Every agent has unique strengths, and recognizing them improves agent morale.
Always identify areas for improvement within the context of their successes. Low ASA may be a cause for concern — but if your CSat and NPS is high, your customers are likely engaged and happy with the service.
Professional Development Opportunities Improve Agent Performance
So you evaluated your agents’ performance. Now what? Close the loop with opportunities to address the points brought up in an agent’s evaluation.
Offer coaching sessions
Think training is a one-time requirement for your agents? The best contact center teams know that learning should be ongoing. Consider offering coaching sessions for your agents, whether they’re new or a seasoned professional, so they can keep their skills sharp and stay up to date with new processes and trends.
Create leadership opportunities
Your agents are on the front lines daily, connecting with your clients and customers. For this reason, they have a wellspring of knowledge which could benefit fellow team members. Encourage them to do so by creating opportunities for them to share their insights. Better yet, formalize the process by creating a mentorship program. This will help your agents find fulfillment outside of answering customer queries.
Showcase their impact
One of the biggest demotivators for contact center agents is putting in long, hard hours and feeling like they accomplished nothing. Of course, this is untrue, but If they can’t see their impact, they can’t feel satisfied with their work. Establish ways to regularly share and highlight how they positively impacted the business to boost their motivation and help them take pride in their work!
Give constructive feedback
An agent’s performance can’t improve if they don’t know where to focus their efforts. That’s why constructive feedback is critical to your team’s development. Balancing positive and constructive feedback is key.
Stop exclusively focusing on numbers
It can be easy to get caught up in the analytics and metrics of performance. But agents are not bots, and a considerable part of their value comes from their ability to connect with your customers and solve their issues. When analyzing their performance, consider this human aspect — regularly reviewing customer calls is a great way to do this!
Mitigate burnout risk
It’s no secret that agent attrition is on the rise, the main drivers being stress and burnout. By identifying key stressors and challenges your agents face regularly, you can adopt the tools needed to set them up for success. For example, high call volumes and agent overwhelm can be solved with a call-back solution!