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Performance Management

Best Practices on using contact center metrics, reports, dashboard and key performance metrics (KPI) to optimize customer service

Call Center Tools Hints, Tips & Best Practices

With the right call center tools, combined with efficient processes and an enthusiastic, well-trained team, a customer-centric approach to service and support becomes much easier to maintain.

The best toolkit will start with call center software that provides workforce optimization, which incorporates call recording and call monitoring, historical reporting data for forecasting and scheduling, and real-time insight into call center activity so adjustments can be made quickly if adherence becomes an issue.

Find out more about the right call center tools for your business in the blogs and articles below. Or click here for more information about Monet’s WFO solution. Questions? Search for answers here

The Benefits of Performance Management Software

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Performance Management is something of a catch-all term that incorporates a wide range of management aspects, from planning to developing agent skills, to evaluating performance based on metrics and making adjustments accordingly. Most call centers engage in some form of performance management, whether through ongoing meetings to assess progress or an annual review. 

It’s an essential process, and it can be a difficult one without software that tracks and analyzes the performance levels of your call center team. 

The analytics provided by Monet Metrics has made performance management faster and more accurate at a wide range of call centers. Data is delivered in a way that makes it easier to identify the skill sets of your agents, as well as any skill gaps that need to be filled by additional training. 

What used to require stacks of paperwork and tedious manual operations now gets completed automatically; saving valuable work hours that can now be devoted to other tasks. 

Is Monet Metrics your best option?

Obviously we think so. But as you explore the different software selections available you’ll want to select the performance management system that best fits your call center’s needs. 

As you investigate, always keep in mind that performance management is only as good as the data it receives. Your workforce management and quality management efforts, as well as those devoted to training and billing and other specialties, must collect accurate numbers for the system to work. With Monet, that’s never an issue. 

Performance management is one of the most effective ways to improve contact center service – as long as the metrics are accurate and implemented in a way that bolsters the associated workflow functionality. This is not a one-time fix but an ongoing program that should become part of a call center’s everyday management procedures.


Find out more about Monet Metrics

Back to Basics: Six Key Measurements

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Contact center managers have a lot of responsibilities, among them keeping track of various measurements that track efficiency and customer service. These six categories should be on every manager’s list. 

Measuring Forecast Accuracy 

An accurate forecast model relies on accurate historical data. Workforce optimization (WFO) delivers seasonal stats, monthly stats, daily stats, even numbers analyzing one portion of one hour, so variations can be determined and adjustments made accordingly. Special days and special events will also figure into these calculations – once again, the automated WFO solution will always be better and faster than a spreadsheet.  

Measuring Schedule Adherence

Schedule adherence plays a critical role in the success of any contact center. Workforce management (WFM) software makes the goal of optimal schedule adherence easier to achieve. Not only will the WFM-generated schedules provide more accurate information, they will make a dramatic change in the manager’s schedule as well. How long does it take to run all of the necessary numbers with a spreadsheet? With WFM, managers can access better numbers more quickly, so they have more time to address other issues, or leave the office on time for a change.

Measuring Quality

Several diverse components contribute to the quality management at a call center. Wouldn’t it be great if all of these components could be accurately evaluated from the same place? That’s one of the benefits of Monet Quality, technology that enhances workforce optimization and call recording capabilities, to deliver unprecedented insight into quality monitoring, performance trends and agent training needs. 

Measuring First Call Resolution

Few statistics are more important in a call center than First Call Resolution (FCR). When this is achieved a customer issue is solved with maximum efficiency, and the customer is much more likely to be satisfied with the call center encounter, and will remain a customer in the future. 

Measuring Employee Engagement

Workforce Management can play a prominent role in improving employee engagement, particularly as it pertains to schedule flexibility. Skill-based scheduling allows managers to better match agents with the types of calls they are most comfortable and experienced in handling.  This boosts both employee confidence and customer service. Flexible Schedules are also more easily managed with WFM, so agents can balance obligations in their personal lives with work responsibilities. 

Measuring Customer Experience

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Measuring service is an obvious and necessary exercise for every call center manager. But service level should not be confused with the more comprehensive examination of customer experience. Once you’ve developed a strategy to track, measure and improve customer experience, you’ll have a road map to identify any systems and programs that need to be revised for optimal customer satisfaction.

The challenge comes from the reality that customer experience encompasses a wide range of touch-points within the company that a customer may encounter – email, website, store, chat, reps. While telephone engagements are just one piece of the puzzle, they are a particularly important piece. They provide an opportunity to find out about the other channels and aspects of customer experience, and to fix any problems. It’s also the time and place when most customers expect to be queried about the company, and may be more open to providing honest, direct and detailed feedback. 


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Performance Management and Agent Reviews

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Agent reviews should be a mandatory part of your contact center regimen. Your performance management results depend in part on knowing you have a capable, motivated team of agents working on behalf of your business and your customers. 

But what is the best way to handle these essential but sometimes challenging assignments? Most contact centers rely on one of two options: a company-wide review in which every agent receives their feedback at the same time (a focal review), or individual annual review sessions, dated from the day that each agent joined the company. 

It’s Your Anniversary! Now, Here’s What You’re Doing Wrong…

Of course, with new hires you probably won’t wait a full year before providing review feedback. But once any probation period has passed, the method of using annual written or verbal reviews has several advantages, starting with the obvious – it’s a logical approach that also makes it easier for managers to prepare, as they may only have 1-2 reviews in a week, as opposed to a focal approach, where the entire team is reviewed at the same time. 

This is also a reliable strategy if the crux of your review is a measurement of agent performance against the contact center customer service criteria, rather than against the performance of other agents. 

However, scheduling often proves more difficult with this method – nobody really enjoys agent reviews, so managers sometimes procrastinate, resulting in delays or sometimes even neglecting to do them at all. Plus, if performance reviews reveal a flaw in a company process that needs to be changed, doing so may be harder to implement throughout the entire contact center. 

You’re All Slackers. OK, Back to Work

The advantage of a focal review is getting all the reviews out of the way quickly. This always makes a difficult task more palatable. And because you’ll have performance review data on all of your agents at the same time, it’s easier to compare and contrast their performances, and provide updated guidance on new company policies to the entire team. On the down site, focal reviews take longer to prepare, especially at larger contact centers.

Whichever option you choose, the most important thing is to make sure the reviews get done. When management neglects the review aspect of performance management, it makes it easier for agents to neglect the responsibilities of their position. 



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Performance Management and Quality Monitoring: A Checklist for Success

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Is there such a thing as a quick fix when it comes to more effective performance management? Can one little change in attitude or procedure make a big difference in quality monitoring?

The answer is yes – and no. 

Both performance management and quality monitoring require coordinated planning and execution throughout the contact center. 

Performance management is something of a catch-all term that incorporates  a wide range of management aspects, from planning to developing agent skills, to evaluating performance based on metrics and making adjustments accordingly. Doing so will be more successful with a detailed plan of action. 

Likewise, creating an integrated quality monitoring program will take time and preparation, with particular focus on call recording, PCI compliance, quality scorecards and screen capturing

No quick fixes there. However, once the foundation for both programs is established, small changes can indeed pay significant dividends toward the ultimate goal of ensuring consistent, high quality service that meets or surpasses expectations. Here are a few that may help your performance management and quality monitoring endeavors.

Praise from the top

How often does your upper management team review calls? Have them listen to a few every week, and then contact the agents that did a great job and let them know their work is appreciated. 


Training doesn’t have to be boring

If training consists of the same procedures every week or month, agents will tune it out. Have trainers use varied methods to maintain a higher level of engagement. 


Quality monitoring starts (before) day one

While agents are still in the induction phase, introduce the QM system and expectations in place, and make sure they are aware of the criteria. 


Instant gratification

Praise and reward systems can be beneficial (more on some of these later) but there is no substitute for immediate positive feedback following a customer’s praise. If an email or a phone call contains that praise, don’t wait to share it with the group. 


Consistency

This is obvious, but bears repeating. These programs require consistency, not just in how they are carried out by agents but how they are presented and maintained by supervisors.


Who watches the watchers?

Your coaches are entrusted with maximizing agent performance – but who is making sure that the coaches are doing their best? Their work must be regularly monitored as well. 


Group therapy

Individual call monitoring is important, but occasional group meetings to review calls may also be beneficial. 


Clarity

Feedback won’t work unless it is clear and actionable. You can find out if this is the case by providing agents with feedback forms about coaches (they’ll love that anyway). Offer them a chance to confirm that they understand the assessment they received, and if the coach took their thoughts and opinions into consideration. 


Professionalism

Encourage a general climate of professionalism, not only in how agents communicate with customers but how they communicate with managers, coaches and their fellow agents. Once this becomes second-nature, performance will inevitably improve. 


Involve the QM team in agent recruitment

Your quality monitoring teams knows what to look for in outstanding agents. So why not involve them in the recruitment process? 


Positive reinforcement

Coaching and training sessions should not be dreaded by agents. If they are, something is wrong. Try starting each session with positive coaching – what the agent is doing well and how the call center is lucky to have them. Remind agents of the improvements they have already made. Then review areas where further improvement is possible and discuss ways to work together to get there. 


Include customers in performance management

Agents play a role in performance management, but customers do as well. Take their feedback into account. 


Prizes

A lot of contact centers give out prizes to agents for consistent performance or specific moments of excellence. A free meal, a spa day, or a cash bonus works better than a trophy or a “job well done” certificate. 


Encourage peer discussion

You know your agents already talk about their jobs and customers (and probably  you as well) with each other. Set some time aside to allow them to get together and also talk about improving quality. Some very smart ideas may emerge from these sessions. 


The big picture

When discussing performance management with agents, tell them about the center’s greater goals and over-arching customer service strategy. The more they understand the big picture, the more they might buy into the program. 


Public or private coaching?

Some contact centers conduct coaching sessions in a closed office; others have these discussions out on the floor within earshot of other agents. There is no sure formula for which will be more effective at your contact center – so why not try both and see what happens?


Watch your language

Does anyone still use words like “demerits” or terms like “marked down” in coaching sessions? Use positive, supportive language instead. 


Grade calls in sections

Break each call into different sections for review purposes, such as: call open, courtesy, technical skills and compliance, efficiency, and closing. 


Don’t ignore the longer calls

Short calls are always desirable but not always possible. Sometimes you can learn more about agent performance, contact center issues and your QM strategy by reviewing longer calls. 


It’s ok to ask for help

If an agent is having difficulty answering a customer’s questions, he or she might be hesitant to forward that call to a supervisor if it reflects badly on their performance. But if that is the best way to keep that customer relationship, make sure the agent knows that doing so is the right step. 


Never stop improving

Did you achieve your quality goals? Great! Now, set new ones. Complacence is the enemy of every contact center. 


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The Top 5 Excuses for Not Adopting Performance Management - and Where They Go Wrong

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Performance management provides a clear direction and a shared understanding of what is to be achieved, the leadership approach required and support for the continual development of the individuals to ensure it is delivered. 

It is both a process and an application. And for contact centers it’s a way to approach data-driven management and apply it to correct adherence issues. However, even as other technology solutions and best practices habits have been embraced by the contact center industry, performance management continues to lag behind. 

The question is, “Why?” While there are unique qualities to running a contact center as opposed to some other type of business, measuring the performance of quantifiable business activities  is no less important here than in any corporate operation. Or to put it simply, find out what’s not working right, and correct it. 

A company called DMG Consulting did a survey of contact center managers to find out why so many are still reluctant to invest in a performance management solution. 

These are five of the most frequent responses: 

“I'm not sure what it is or what it will do for my contact center.”

“I already have too much reporting; I don't need another reporting package.”

“It's not worth the effort.”

“It requires too many integrations.”

“My management won't approve the investment.”

What these answers suggest is not any deficiency in a performance management solution, but a disconnect when it comes to understanding how it works and the benefits it provides. 

Let’s look at these objections one by one.

“I’m not sure what it is or what it will do for my contact center”

A vendor should always have a ready answer for this question. At Monet, we tell our customers than performance management is a critical part of managing call centers and is essential to help you align your people, processes and systems to your goals and objectives, such as customer satisfaction and cost control. 

Monet Metrics, our PM solution, offers a number of significant benefits, including: 

Managers can make better and faster decisions through actionable intelligence

Contact centers can move from reactive to proactive management to better meet service and efficiency goals

Agents can improve productivity and team motivation

Supervisors can refocus their time from data collection to coaching, training and planning 

“I already have too much reporting”

Performance management is more than just reporting. As stated earlier, it is both a process and an application. Contact center managers that truly understand the mission of their business recognize that delivering an outstanding customer experience is critical, but it’s not the only consideration. The goal should also be to optimize the performance of every aspect of the business. 

The overwhelming majority of ongoing call center expenses are related to staffing – as much as 70% of the budget. Even slight improvements in agent productivity and motivation can have a big impact on performance and cost management of your contact center. Performance management provides powerful tools to identify trends and potential issues that might have gone undetected, and delivers business insights to improve overall performance.

“It’s not worth the effort”

This is the same objection that contact centers used to have to workforce management (WFM). Some still do, but their continued reliance on spreadsheets has these centers lagging behind their competition, and wasting countless hours on forecasts and schedules that are not as accurate as those generated more quickly via WFM. 

Performance management has a strong value proposition for managers who are quantitatively oriented and appreciate the importance of managing by numbers. Is it worth the effort? Only if real time and historical performance data at the agent, group and center level is important. Only if optimizing all aspects of the workforce with one solution is important. Only if better utilization of resources, better cost management, and improve service levels are important. 

We think they are – how about you?

“It requires too many integrations”

This objection is easily overcome with a system like Monet Metrics that is already incorporated into our larger workforce optimization solution. Standalone performance management can make a positive difference, but it’s even better when purchased with a full WFO suite, where the functionality arrives fully integrated. Now you not only enjoy the benefits of performance management, but also workforce management, call recording, quality management, screen capture, and archiving and reporting capabilities. 

“My management won’t approve the investment”

Fortunately, PM solutions can be delivered via the cloud, which eliminates the large upfront investment that used to be required for such sophisticated analysis. 

Cloud services and software are provided for a low monthly subscription fee, usually pay as you go, without an upfront investment required. Any upgrades or customizations are handled by the vendor at no additional cost – over the long haul (given how often software upgrades are unveiled) this results in considerable savings. In addition, contact centers can also avoid the cost of a full-time employee devoted to maintaining software; with the cloud, these tasks are handled more efficiently at the source by the cloud application vendor. 

The cloud offers other advantages as well. Specific customer configuration can take less than two hours; with an on-premise system, that same task can take up to two months. 

Actual installation is also faster, and the site acceptance testing required with a traditional solution is not necessary with a cloud delivery system, as compatibility is already achieved with multiple modern web browsers. 

Finally, user training can be completed in as little as two weeks. With traditional software systems, it can take several more weeks before agents and managers are comfortable with the new technology. 

The verdict? A cloud delivery system can not only be implemented for less money, it can also be set up with fewer headaches as well. 



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The 7 Most Significant Contact Center Metrics

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Metrics deliver the data that keeps your contact center on track. And with an advanced workforce management solution like Monet’s WFM Live, metrics that were once only attainable with the most costly and advanced solutions are now within the reach of smaller and midsized contact centers. 

Of course, it’s not enough to compile data; that material must be reviewed and analyzed to measure performance and inspire beneficial changes. Looking for a place to start? Try these seven top performance measurements. 

1. Schedule Adherence and Efficiency

Are your agents working when they should? When that doesn’t happen, the center may be understaffed, leading to missed calls or delayed responses. Improving adherence will have an immediate impact on productivity and customer service. With WFM it’s easier to always have the right number of agents in place for each day and each shift.

2. Call Answer Time

What is the average speed of answer (ASA) at the call center? Most centers have a defined wait threshold that should be met consistently. 

3. Agent Occupancy

Finding the balance between keeping agents busy but not overworking them is the challenge of agent occupancy. It’s a key element in schedule efficiency where the goal is to avoid having too many agents sitting at their desks doing nothing, while also having enough available personnel so that each call is promptly answered. 

4. First Call Resolution

Customers want to resolve issues with one call, which makes a call center’s first call resolution rate critical to customer satisfaction. Sometimes it’s not possible, but if an agent consistently lags behind established goals, he or she should be scheduled for additional training. 

5. Transfer Rate

Few situations are more frustrating for a customer than explaining an issue to one agent, and then being transferred to a supervisor and having to do so a second time. While this may still qualify as a first-call resolution if questions are ultimately answered and the problem is solved, it should still be kept to a minimum whenever possible.

6. Abandon Rate

When a customer hangs up, it will not always be the fault of the contact center or the agent. Some people just have shorter fuses than others. However, abandon rates can be reduced by shorter wait times and courteous agents. 

7. Blocked Calls

Blocked calls never even make it to a call center agent, because of insufficient network capabilities. Obviously, the only possible result becomes a frustrated customer. Are some blocked calls inevitable at peak times? Or can these calls be taken with better scheduling, expanded trunks or other corrective measures? 




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Call Center Tools for Training and Coaching

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Agent coaching and training is an ongoing process that consists of three elements: Identify the need, provide training and measure results. This brief article describes how you can make these 3 steps more efficient by using the right call center tools: 

1. Identify the Training Need
While training should cover all aspects of job performance, from call greeting and closing to script adherence, product knowledge and general courtesy, every agent is different and will have different needs. With call recording software it is much easier to tailor training to a specific agent’s needs, improving both agent efficiency and the time it takes to produce a qualified employee. This can dramatically reduce wasted resources on training that is not necessary. 

2. Provide Training/Coaching
Usually these will be one-on-one sessions that will incorporate reviews of the agent’s calls via call recording software. Trainers can review the results of call scoring on that agent’s work, and may also use outstanding examples of other agent calls to illustrate the differences, and help that agent set goals and learn from mistakes. Ultimately, an agent should be able to self-train and self-correct by reviewing calls. Scoring, however, should always be left to call center management and supervisors. 

3. Measure Results
Quality monitoring provides the raw data necessary to determine whether coaching sessions are having the desired impact. Have first-call resolutions increased? Are complaints down? Has the call center shaved a few seconds off average call length? Reviewing changes will determine next steps – whether re-training is required, or whether the next coaching sessions can focus on other areas of concern. 

To see these tools in action, please watch our call center solution demo videos.


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A More Efficient Call Center in One Minute?

These are just some of the real-world benefits experienced after implementing Monet WFM software.

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