Agent Motivation

The #1 Thing Your Call Center Performance Management Program Is Missing

Call center performance management has, for many brands, changed little over the years.

Managers spend their days coaching and training their team on brand standards, best practices, and overcoming common customer issues. QA reviewers scratch the surface of team performance, but with so many interactions and so little time, aren’t able to dive deeper. Agents keep up with incoming tickets and customer queries, with little insight into their performance and even less visibility into what they need to do to develop and grow.

As a result, the common story of the contact center is one of burnout and attrition. But, it doesn’t have to be.

In truth, your call center performance management program can unlock untapped potential for customer loyalty, agent retention and happiness, and overall bottom-line business value.

It’s time to revamp your approach to performance management.

Reinventing Your Call Center Performance Management Program

Old-school call center performance management relies only on internal measures of quality. Coaching and training are based entirely on those measures, and agents’ performance is judged solely by call center managers and QA leaders.

This approach might be a good starting point, but ultimately, it can have a detrimental impact on  customer service teams, brand health, and long-term profitability.

First, capturing 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 — which can become an expensive proposition for your organization.

Second, inherent biases, if not effectively managed, make the data less actionable. There’s always the potential for agents to take issue with a QA review they receive based on one interaction out of potentially dozens or hundreds per week, and a lack of ongoing calibration across reviewers could mean that five different QA leaders might have five different reactions to the same customer interaction. And if agents feel their scores are not comprehensive of their overall performance and are missing out on all the great work they’re doing, it can lead to low morale and high call center 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? Are your customer’s biggest concerns or issues with your team being noted — and addressed — in your internal QA reviews?

“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 even really care about) your customer service quality assurance standards. They just want service that measures up to their expectations and leaves them with a positive impression of your brand.

The only way to deliver those positive experiences consistently is to invite your customers to define and measure quality for you as part of the service experience via collecting, and analyzing, customer feedback.

4 Business Benefits of Using Customer Feedback in Call Center Performance Management

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.

These benefits of bringing voice of the customer data into your contact center are real.

1. Managing Call Center 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 help their team be more productive, and take the guesswork out of where to focus their coaching efforts.

By monitoring both internal and external measures of performance, managers can easily identify the members of their team who are excelling, and those who might need more hands-on coaching around a specific issue.

As a result, they’re able to offer in-the-moment micro-coaching opportunities as soon as they see a negative score come in, but also able to monitor broader performance trends to keep a pulse on overall team success and identify areas that may call for group training.

Instead of recording one or two random calls that might not be representative, QA reviewers can be notified of interactions with a low customer satisfaction score that meet predetermined criteria (inadequate product knowledge, for example) and review those calls. As efficiencies improve, QA resources free up, and leaders are able to devote more time to other critical aspects of their quality program like service recovery — a game changer for modern front-line teams.

According to our latest Customer Service Trends for 2022 research, across the US and UK, 97% of consumers report that if a brand turned a poor experience into a positive one by solving their problems immediately, they would do business with that brand again. With QA resources spent less on manual, cherry-picking reviews and more time on programs that will drive bottom-line value, your entire business wins.

Meanwhile, agents can use the feedback from their own customers to self-correct when they see that they’ve missed the mark. 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 More Actionable

When real-time, external customer feedback is combined with internal QA reviews, 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.

This means that agents not only put more stock in their performance metrics because they’re able to keep a pulse on how they’re trending, but also means they know exactly what they must do to improve their scores and keep your customers satisfied.

With the insights they need to understand their performance and the guidance on how to improve, agents can stay on their A-game.

3. Happy Agents Tend to Stay Put

Customer feedback allows agents to see first-hand the positive impact they’re making on the lives of your customers each and every day. VoC-driven coaching and training sessions help agents do their jobs better by honing in on specific areas of improvement, and tailoring their coaching to their needs as an individual.

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.

Outstanding customer service is now the leading brand differentiator and surest path to market dominance. You can’t become a service leader if your front line is a mix of new, not-ready-for-prime-time agents and agents who’ve already checked out.

If you take the necessary steps to minimize call center attrition, you’ll have the keys to the kingdom: seasoned brand experts who love and excel at their jobs and create customers for life. As you build out your team of brand superheroes, you’ll continue lowering costs, driving revenue, and gaining on your competitors—an accelerating cycle that will make your brand unstoppable.

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 numbers don’t lie: 84% of US and UK consumers say that when customer service solves a problem for them, they feel more emotionally connected to the brand. And when customers feel that connection, they’re more likely to stick with your brand and continue to give you their business.

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. Businesses of all types have seen a substantial increase in the use of Word of Mouth (WoM) amongst consumers, especially in the US market where last year, just 38% of shoppers said they would tell their friends and family to halt doing business with a company if they had a negative experience.

This highlights the incredible influence that WoM continues to have, and the opportunity that exists for businesses to leverage it as a powerful growth tool. When brands treat customers as their biggest advocates, they have the potential to drive meaningful results, as illustrated by the fact that WoM marketing produces roughly $6 trillion in consumer spending each year.

Accelerating Your Call Center Performance Management with Real-Time Customer Insights

Old-school contact center performance management is a thing of the past.

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.

Stella Connect customers like Swanson Health, ESPN, and lululemon have reinvented their performance management programs to focus on driving bottom-line impact for their agents, their customers, and their overall business. See how Stella Connect can help your brand do the same, today.

This blog post was originally published on Jul 27, 2018 and has since been updated.