Creating call center agents who are productive and successful is a top priority for any manager, but there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all measuring stick. Agents may respond differently to performance goals and standard benchmarks. Therefore, managers must not only carefully and thoughtfully craft their improvement plans, but they must also establish concrete evaluation tools that can be tweaked to address changing priorities.
Perhaps the first step in performance improvement is getting buy-in from the call center agents themselves. With universally understood team goals, measurable progress can serve as its own motivator. Here are five steps toward making benchmarks reasonable and achievable in order to prevent burnout or low morale.
Start by creating a list of the service types that needs to be addressed. This may be things such as first call resolutions, call times, customer satisfaction ratings or quality of calls. Next, set a goal for each performance area. This should be reasonable and attainable while still offering a “stretch” factor so that agents will be accomplished when they reach the goal. After setting your own numbers, ask for input from the agents. They might have some insights on achievability or ideas for additional performance areas. Bringing agents in on this part of the process gives them agency and a vested interest in attaining the team goals.
Agents who feel the numbers are arbitrary or out of reach may become frustrated and unmotivated to strive for the goal. That’s why it is vital to keep the numbers realistic but still high enough that they require some adjustments for agents’ call-handling processes.
When you are explaining the organizational plan to your agents, you will need to be able to justify the numbers you set forward. Be prepared to answer questions about how the number was chosen and what successfully meeting the goal will mean for the health of the company and for customer satisfaction.
You can empower members of your team to reach goals by giving them tools to reach the desired result. This may be a more effective use of a script, ideas for keeping callers on topic or other suggestions they may never have considered. If you can demonstrate that the goals are achievable, agents will be more confident in their abilities. They might even have some suggestions you can use on a team-wide basis.
When it comes to evaluating agent performance, the process likely will be ongoing. Metrics may need to be adjusted as realities change. You may notice that an agent just doesn’t have the level of training he or she needs, or it could be a worker is missing an important resource, such as reliable and speedy technology. Be prepared to alter the team goals if new evidence indicates adjustments are warranted.
It is not difficult to get your agent team on track for improved performance if you plan carefully, get them involved in the process and offer tools that can help.