What is call centre performance management?

Productivity is the key focus of any business and a call centre is no different. The more productive an agent is at a call centre, the more they contribute towards the performance management goals of the organisation. For call centres, as they are a service-centric business, it is very important to assess the performance of the employees to ensure that you are best utilising their talent. Performance Management broadly means how well you can maintain the talent in your organisation and what processes you follow and practices you adopt to get the best performance from agents. The more you are able to strike a balance between the skills you have and the roles of the agents, the more productive your business becomes.  Call centre performance management, however, cannot be achieved overnight. It is a continuous process that brings efficacy to the organisation and ensures optimum utilisation of resources. 

If you want to manage your call centre effectively, here are 8 tips to boost your call centre performance management:

1. Eliminate ambiguity by setting expectations

When you ask an agent at your call centre about their job description, are they able to offer an answer without hesitation? In most cases, agents have ambiguity about their expected role. When the agent does not know what is expected of them, how can they perform at par with expectations? 

  • Offer clear expectations – Before you do anything, make sure that your agents know what you are expecting from them. This can be done by offering them a more detailed and clearer job description and supplying them with clear performance expectations from the get-go. Setting your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) should be a priority in the induction process with a new employee.
  • Involve your agent in the process – When setting performance targets, sit down and involve your agent in developing a performance plan by getting their input. Engaging the agent as part of the target setting process ensures any ambiguity is eradicated from the root.

2. Pay attention to individuality and empower your agents

Just like no two jobs are the same, no two agents have the same skill set. It is very important that you place importance on individuality and follow different approaches while dealing with different agents.  While you might already have set the KPIs and the benchmarks to be achieved, in your call centre, you cannot expect two individuals to reach there in the same way. Agents may act differently in situations due to their level of experience and their aspects of their personality.

Agents may differ in these key areas:

  • Speed they complete work 
  • Methods of handling situations
  • Personal attitudes
  • Levels of empathy
  • Ability to muilti-task
  • Communication skills
  • Organisation skills
  • Ability to work as a team
  • Ability to work independently
  • Ability to recall information
  • Confidence
  • Technology literacy

Besides setting a strategy for the team performance, it is important to have a customised approach for each and every agent because of the many different levels of ability in the key areas mentioned.

3. Provide regular, targeted feedback sessions to employees

  • Don’t skip feedback sessions – When you do not know where you went wrong, you won’t be able to do the thing right the next time. Most call centres know the importance of offering feedback to the employees, but there can be times when the managers get too busy and the feedback process takes the back seat.
  • Provide feedback more regularly – In times like these, when the employee is working harder to achieve the results, it becomes more important to provide the feedback. Instead of reaching out to the employee with a quarterly or annual assessment sheet, it is better to offer feedback daily or weekly.
  • Provide targeted feedback – Just like it is important to set short term goals, it is equally important to offer feedback at short intervals. Take the time to listen to your employees, especially when they ask for your advice, and provide constructive feedback that is actionable. 

 Related Blog – 13 Effective Methods To Increase Employee Engagement

4. Positive feedback is the key

While feedback is a tool that you can utilise, it is important that you balance it well. You must notify the agent about their performance and development in a stipulated time, but ensure that your feedback encourages a positive outcome. 

  • Use the coaching feedback model – The coaching feedback model applies positive feedback and ‘learning feedback’ instead of providing negative feedback. This is helpful to get agents to understand goals and how they will achieve them. When you are asking questions about an action, project or behaviour, start a dialogue by asking an employee to reflect on their personal performance. Ask open questions similar to these:
  • What would you like to get out of this conversation? (if you have a scheduled feedback session/meeting)
  • What have you noticed about your performance?
  • What do you like about what you have achieved? 
  • If you could do it again, what would you do differently?
  • Can I make a suggestion? This is an opportunity to offer advice and deliver ‘learning’ feedback to your agent
  • Do not focus feedback on what an agent has done wrong –  You want to continue to develop performance and not to break the employee morale. As mentioned, instead of pointing out what the agents did wrong, make the feedback a mix of positive and ‘learning’ or constructive feedback.
  • One example could be instead of identifying an agent that has been performing at a low level, you could support them by partnering them with someone they can inspire from or offering them positive feedback for how they can develop. 

5. Demonstrate leadership and build relationships with your team 

If you want a great team of performing agents, you must prove yourself as a good leader first. By ensuring that you support your agents in their development, you can expect great outcomes in return.  If you do not engage in the right behaviour, you cannot expect your associates to perform. Always remember that your associates will follow what you do. It is recommended that you follow what you preach and set examples of good behaviour and performance for the team to follow.  Similarly, strong relationships with your team can give a manager more influence and therefore more power to drive performance. Together, a great leader with good relationships with their team is much more likely to achieve objectives, reduce attrition and increase customer service.  As a great leader, you must focus on:

  • Identifying issues 
  • Finding a solution 
  • Effectively implementing it

Emphasise developing the key skills of each agent and utilise it as a strength for the call centre. Being supportive of each agent’s personal goals offers an opportunity of a positive career path with your organisation and will help to ensure your top performing agents stay with your organisation. 

6. Introduce a company-wide performance management strategy

Irrespective of the department type, size, and nature, you must ensure that the performance management process is the same for everyone. Obviously, the KPIs would be different for various roles, but all employees must know there is a standard performance management process to follow. One example is a scheduled performance review every three months for every employee. How will it help you? Well, with the same performance management process, the employees will stay abreast of the ongoing changes and expectations from them. This way, irrespective of the team they are transferred to, they will be able to deliver results and stay on track with performance targets. Another advantage of uniformity is that if the team remains the same, but the team leader is changed, the agents won’t find it tough to align with the new goals set as the performance management processes would remain the same.

7. Incentivise performance

Call centres often set Sales targets as a KPI, and agents chasing the targets can overlook the quality they deliver to the customer. This is not the best practice for a good performance management process.  Instead of focusing on sales, the call centres must prioritise the feedback an agent receives from the customers and set them as a KPI.

An incentive program to boost the performance of an agent could instead be designed around these metrics:

  • Customer satisfaction scores/levels
  • Average handling time per agent
  • Number of calls handled per day
  • Number of calls in cue 
  • Resolved cases per agent – over a given time period

For each type of goal, there are more specific customer service metrics you can use to monitor progress. For example:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) – Indicator of customer happiness
  • Average handling time (AHT) – The average amount of time taken to resolve a customer’s issue
  • Customer Effort Score (CES) – Indication of how much effort is required from customers
  • First response time (FRT) – How long it took before customers received initial responses
  • First contact resolution rate (FCR) – The percentage of issues resolved within the first contact

Whilst it is important to recognise your top performers, there needs to be a process to recognise positive gains for any underperformers too.  Examples of incentives that can motivate your call centre team:

  • Preferential work schedules
  • Team Awards
  • Personalised gifts
  • Gift cards
  • Entry into a raffle
  • Friday barbeque or drinks
  • Additional time off
  • Using gamification tools such as Datagamz

A key goal of setting incentives is to help the agents develop. If you aren’t getting the right outcome, it is better to invest in a better developmental activity, such as additional training, rather than handing out incentives. 

8. Utilise technology to track performance

A business has access to a range of performance management tools and it is expected from them to make the best use of it.  From organising employee engagement games to offering the employees access to the performance management software to keep track of their developmental progress, there is a range of tools that call centres can use to manage employee performance.  Datagamz provides a gamification and analytics platform to help you to track performance and KPIs. It offers a method of incentivising your employees through rewards, quizzes and challenges.  You can make use of technology in a way that it offers the best benefits to your employees whilst also managing performance goals. Performance management is crucial for an organisation and the leader is a key part of the entire process. By working closely with the agents, helping them identify the goals and offering feedback when required, a manager can ensure that the best performance is delivered by the team.  This will not only ensure that the organisation performs well but also ensure that the agents have connectivity with the call centre and associate themselves with having longevity within the business.

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