Contact center performance management has, for many brands, changed little over the years. Managers spend their days coaching and training, training and coaching. QA reviews continue apace. Agents struggle to meet the demands of the job, and they struggle harder to develop and grow.
Managers dedicate lots of resources dedicated to improving agent performance. But to what end? Operational costs do not go down. Profits do not go up.
Most contact center leaders aren’t happy with the high costs of agent attrition, their overwhelmed team leaders, the underwhelming CSAT/NPS® scores, and all the other daily realities that cause them heartburn. But what can they do, other than soldier on and hope for the best?
If this has a familiar ring to it, you’re not holding your contact center performance management program to a high enough standard. You’re treating it as a cost of doing business, rather than aiming for business results. By that we mean real business results: a program that generates revenue rather than drains it.
It’s simple choice. You can continue along the path to nowhere, or you can set a new course. It’s time to revamp your approach to contact center performance management.
The Intolerable Costs of Old-School Performance Management
Old-school contact center performance management relies on internal measures of quality. Coaching and training are based entirely on those measures, and agents’ performance is judged solely by contact center managers and QA leaders.
This approach takes a huge toll on customer service teams, brand health, and long-term profitability.
First, to capture enough performance data to identify and address problems quickly and effectively requires an army of managers and QA leaders continuously monitoring customer interactions. Scaling the team means hiring more managers and QA leaders—an expensive proposition.
Second, inherent biases make the data less actionable. Agents are likely to take issue with a QA reviewer’s general critiques based on one or two recorded calls out of dozens or hundreds in a week, and five different QA reviewers might have five different reactions to the same customer interaction. Biased reviews and performance scores are among the leading causes of low morale and high attrition rates in the contact center.
Finally (and worst of all), there’s a disconnect with customers. Do the standards reflect what customers care about? Does Joe Q. Customer care whether Agent Aaron answered the phone with a “sparkle”? Are Joe Q. Customer’s biggest concerns or gripes even being addressed?
“That’s fantastic to report a ‘200% increase in quality’ based on your made-up internal scorecard, but have your customers even noticed a difference? If there was no meaningful change to NPS, CSAT, or CES then why does the internal quality score even matter?”
–Nate Brown, CustomerCentricSupport.com
Remember: Customers don’t know or care one whit about your quality standards. They just want service that measures up to their expectations. The only way to deliver consistently is to invite your customers to define and measure quality for you as part of the service experience—something they will gladly do.
4 Business Benefits That Flow From VoC-Based Contact Center Performance Management
These benefits are real, but this isn’t an exhaustive list. Real-time voice of customer (VoC) data streaming into the contact center can transform the culture, operations, and performance—and give the customer service team a much larger role in advancing business goals.
1. Managing Performance Is Easier and More Efficient.
With VoC data flowing into dashboards—both star ratings and specific areas of customer concern—managers and QA leaders have all the insights they need to be more productive with less effort.
Managers can immediately identify high and low performers based on average ratings. They can also stay alert to individual needs for micro-coaching as well as broader performance trends that call for group training.
Instead of recording one or two random calls that might not be representative, QA reviewers can be notified of low-rated contacts that meet predetermined criteria (inadequate product knowledge, for example) and review those calls. As efficiencies improve, QA leaders could devote more time to service recovery—another critical process made more effective by real-time customer feedback.
Meanwhile, agents can use the feedback from their own customers to self-correct. Leaderboards provide the added benefit of encouraging friendly competition among agents. In this atmosphere, performance continues to improve as team leaders feel less burdened and can direct their efforts where they’re most needed.
2. The Data Is Indisputable, and Far More Actionable.
When real-time customer feedback takes the place of managers’ and QA reviewers’ subjective opinions, there are no barriers to improvement. Agents see the same star ratings and comments that team leaders do—while the interactions are still fresh—so agents get more value out of coaching and QA reviews. Everyone sees the same aggregate data as well, so there’s no disputing performance trends. Agents not only put more stock in their scores, but they also know exactly what they must do to improve them.
3. Happy Agents Tend to Stay Put.
Front-line feedback makes clear the impact agents are making. VoC-driven coaching and training sessions help agents do their jobs better. As performance scores naturally rise, customers give kudos, and managers recognize excellence on the contact center floor, agents begin to feel more confident and more valued. This virtuous cycle can dramatically improve morale and reduce contact center churn.
4. Happy Customers Stay Put and Spend More Over Time.
A personalized, humanized front-line feedback request (with the agent’s photo and bio, suggested rewards, etc.) immediately following a service interaction doesn’t just collect data. It also builds brand equity and strengthens the customer’s emotional connection with the brand. The moment they’re given a fun opportunity to weigh in, customers feel valued by the brand, more inclined to spend more over time, and eager to share their experiences with friends and family.
Stop Spinning Your Wheels, and Start Accelerating Your Progress
The question isn’t whether you’re ready to change course. It’s whether you can afford to keep hiring and training new waves of agents, running your team leaders ragged, and not serving customers on their terms.
Old-school productivity measures are out. Old-school contact center performance management is out. Success in today’s marketplace is all about what customers care about, plain and simple—and putting that knowledge to work in the contact center. Doing so won’t just elevate your brand; it will make your business stronger and more profitable. Any way you slice it, you’ll be in a better position to compete.