Almost 80% of your agents show up to work without knowing what’s expected of them.
Too many business leaders see the contact center as a cost center, so developing and investing in agent performance falls off the radar. The less money you spend in the contact center, and the more output your CS team delivers, the better your business outcomes, right?
I’m going to swoop in and give a big nope to that.
The false perception of more output, better outcomes plagues contact centers from reaching their full potential. And it happens so frequently because not every business leader sees the contact center from the lens of the manager.
Good managers know that the way to drive performance up and slim costs isn’t to trim budgets and topple more work on your agents. And, great managers know it’s on them to coach agents to better performance and realize higher call center ROI.
Outstanding performance only happens when you set clear goals, give regular feedback and surface progress to your team. When your team doesn’t know what’s expected of them, or how they’re meeting (or missing) those expectations, you can’t reach team and company goals.
Today, we’re walking through how to fix stalled agent performance with four steps to invest in your team and amplify call center ROI. (Or your money back. Literally.)
1. Monitor and display agent performance metrics in real-time.
Choose three metrics that matter most to your business outcomes and monitor them daily with dashboards and Performance Tiles. Communicate openly with your agents about the KPIs they need to hone in on and use reporting tools to surface the real-time metrics to your agents.
When choosing the metrics to help you amplify ROI in your call center, keep these criteria in mind:
- Choose metrics your systems can measure automatically. When you rely on people to input info in your systems, your data is inconsistent at best.
- Pinpoint metrics you can measure frequently. Sporadic reporting and once-a-month measurements won’t give you the intel you need to make clear decisions on how to improve agent performance.
- Make sure your agents can personally influence each metric. Metrics like Service Level and First Contact Resolution are difficult for agents to influence. While they can adjust how fast they answer the phone or how well they help customers, they can’t change how many of their peers call in sick or how many times a customer reached out for help prior to phoning them. Instead of surfacing standard metrics like these to your team, single in on performance metrics that each agent can move.
With real-time reporting, agents get a wealth of knowledge about their performance. They see how every interaction they handle impacts your core business outcomes. They get constant visibility into how they’re reaching team and individual goals (or falling short), so they can proactively address issues holding them back.
2. Communicate the driving cause behind your performance standards and metrics.
It’s simple. We’re curious beings. When you ask your agents to make a change, their natural reaction 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 rolling out new daily performance metrics for your team:
- What do you want agents to learn by looking at their daily metrics?
- Why is it important that they have visibility into these metrics and their progress?
- If agents aren’t meeting performance standards, what will you do to help?
- And, why is it crucial that agents consistently meet their KPIs?
3. Use the daily performance data you collect to strengthen 1:1 coaching.
When you coach often to bring clarity to goals, expectations and performance, agents know where to improve. And, they enjoy doing it.
Management engagement is critical to performance management success. When managers show up to performance conversations with tangible data to back their conversations, agents get a clear view of where to improve. And, when you bring relevant feedback and suggestions based on the data you surfaced, agents learn how to improve.
What’s more? When managers have solid data to commend agents on a job well done, performance keeps climbing. A happy agent is one who knows they’re doing well (and who knows that others know it, too).
4. Earn back agent FTE hours and use them elsewhere
To truly up-level agent performance and grow your call center ROI, the performance metrics you choose must have a quantifiable impact on your bottom line.
We like to quantify ROI in terms of agent hours, or if you’re looking for a dollar sign, your staff’s FTE costs.
Since you can tie metrics like Active Contact Resolution and Average Handle Time directly back to business costs – like agent hours and cost per contact – these are easy metrics to kick off your performance management plan and bolster call center ROI. What happens when you bump FCR down by 1%? What about AHT?
Here’s an example:
Let’s say your AHT for a phone call sits at five minutes. Average salary data puts the hourly rate of an agent at $ 17. So, your five-minute handle times put roughly a $ 1.40 price tag on every interaction. (In terms of agent hours alone – not factoring in the cost of your tools, supervisors, IT and brick and mortar expenses.)
Now, think about how an incremental improvement to your AHT can reduce your agent hours (and the associated costs). Let’s say you have a team of 100 agents, they each handle 50 phone calls per day and work 250 days per year. Your five-minute handle times cost you roughly $ 1.75M in agent FTE costs per year. Reduce your AHT by only 5%, and you get back 6,000 agent hours and reduce FTE costs by $ 70,000.
The more your agents improve AHT, the less of their hourly rate you spend on each conversation. And, the more time your agents have to dedicate to other areas of the business (or take a well-earned vacation).
So, how do we know that performance management skyrockets call center ROI?
We tested this performance management framework with a few of our customers.
Our friends at Sandia Area Federal Credit Union shared legacy data with us (and their team). Then, they put three key metrics on display for their agents – telling them when to pay attention to each.
In a short, 12-day window after showing agents their Active Contact Resolution, the contact center saw a collective 5% increase in resolutions (with fewer customer-callbacks about repeat issues for the entire next month).
And now, ACR is up from 69% to averages in the high 70th-percentile. Some days, they’ve reached above 90% ACR.
“Every single thing that gets data in front of our agents on a consistent basis, helps.”
Matt Benidt, CXO, Sandia Area Federal Credit Union
And another customer of ours saw similar success. They moved agents home at the start of the pandemic and turned Sharpen Performance Tiles on to monitor and coach their team remotely. Since surfacing daily metrics to their agents, Blackhawk realized an 8.7% improvement in handle times, reducing required agent hours by 5%.