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Performance Management

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

Real Time Agent Adherence Hints, Tips & Best Practices

Real-time monitoring allows managers to make changes that have an immediate impact on call center performance. The faster these reactions occur, the easier it is to achieve and maintain targeted service levels.

With real-time call monitoring software in place, managers are immediately alerted to customer service issues as they happen, as opposed to finding out what happened after the call has ended. It also provides valuable insight into how agents work on a day-to-day basis, as opposed to simply reviewing a small sample of randomly collected calls. With real-time monitoring systems in place, performance and compliance issues are no longer able to slip through the cracks.

Find out more about real-time monitoring, and about how Monet Software can help, in the blogs and articles below. Questions? Search for answers here.

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 Four Toughest Trouble Spots in Performance Management

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Recently the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) asked contact center leaders to name their biggest performance management challenge. The organization received a wide range of responses, all of which fit into four main areas of concern. 

If it’s time to review performance management at your contact center, these are the potential trouble spots that provide a logical place to start. 

1. Budgeting Time

It’s difficult for some contact center managers to focus on the challenge of managing agents when there are so many other responsibilities that need to be handled. The task becomes further complicated with telecommuting employees. Automated workforce management can make a significant difference in collecting and analyzing employee data, so effective agent management can be achieved in less time. 

2. Consistent Performance

You have agents that are capable of performing at a high level – but how can you keep them at that level? Complacency and burnout are ongoing challenges that may be met with supportive coaching, quality monitoring, and periodic acknowledgment of a job well done, along with a reward for consistent quality service. 

3. Attendance

Attendance is a chronic issue at contact centers. A review of hiring practices and interview questions might lower attendance problems by weeding out less responsible agents before they are hired. Motivation strategies, from more flexible schedules to gamification, can also help reduce attendance issues.

4.  Agents or Robots?

Which is better, having a customer receive pre-determined, scripted answers to every question and comment, or an agent with the confidence to take ownership of a situation and bring it to a successful resolution – even if that means deviating from procedure? Most managers prefer the latter, but agents won’t be empowered unless managers provide the proper guidance and support. 



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Call Center Metrics in Real-Time

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Call centers operate in real-time. Every moment of the workday there are calls starting, calls ending, complaints addressed, sales closed and agents engaged in various work-related functions. Analyzing call center data of previous days, weeks and months is an important task. But it’s also necessary to gain insight into what is happening in the call center as it actually happens. Only then you can make necessary adjustments that can have immediate impact on the call center performance. For example, if agents are out-of-adherence you get notified or see it on your dashboard you can act right away and avoid service level issues.
Find a workforce management solution that monitors operational data, displays key performance indicators and provides the actual status of key metrics for specific sites and skills. 

Among the metrics that should be monitored in real-time either through a dashboard or an alert system are: 

•    Average call handle time
•    Abandoned calls
•    Active calls
•    Waiting calls
•    Agent performance
•    First call resolution
•    Schedule adherence

We invite you to watch this short call center metrics video to see key performance indicators, alerts, agent analytics and real-time performance management in action. 

Through real-time measurement of call center metrics, agents and managers gain the data visibility necessary to deliver the service that customers expect, and can react more quickly to issues and resolve them before they impact operations.


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Schedule adherence alerts - do you get status alerts in real-time?

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Schedule adherence tracking and monitoring is important, tracking in real-time is even more important. But, do you get alerts if agents or teams are our of adherence or have a different status than what they should be in? Getting notification in real-time allows you to make changes that have an immediate impact on the call center performance. The faster you can react, the easier it is to achieve and maintain your targeted service level.

Wouldn't it be great to get status alerts based on the various activities and exceptions you have set up? Wouldn't it be nice to define custom states and exceptions that are aligned with your unique call center requirements? Wouldn't it be nice to get either pop-ups, email or text message alerts based on thresholds you set up?

Call center schedule adherence status alerts

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