Performance Improvement in the Contact Centre: A Guide


All too often, contact centre agents are treated as disposable. There’s a ready supply of labour, after all, and frontline workers come and go. Isn’t that how it’s always been?

As well as creating a negative atmosphere for your employees and taking its toll on their mental health, this approach is fast becoming incompatible with offering an attractive CX to your customers.

A ‘revolving door’ workplace, where agents come and go every few months or so, is never going to establish the bank of operational knowledge needed to resolve customer enquiries quickly and effectively. And, with contact centres increasingly relying on bots or self service to deal with low-level enquiries, this leaves a workforce of untrained agents dealing with increasingly complex customer interactions.

Contact centres that invest in employee performance improvement don’t have this problem.

By using a mixture of customer feedback and insights from your QA process, you can train your workforce to deal with these complex enquiries effectively. Research from McKinsey suggests that an improved CX can result in 15-20% increases in sales conversion rates, a staggering 20-50% decline in service related costs and a 10-20% improvement in customer satisfaction.

In the contact centre, performance improvement is essential in realising these benefits. Below, we guide you through how to get started with performance improvement.

Great Performance Improvement Starts With You

As a CX leader, you have a huge opportunity to instill useful, inspiring performance improvement opportunities in your contact centre – regardless of whether you work directly with agents or not.

You’re a senior figure within your organisation. People look to you for cues on management strategies, working relationships and appropriate workplace behaviour. This means how you treat those you manage, how you approach feedback and how you recognise hard work has a significant impact across your contact centre.

In turn, your behaviour will encourage team leaders to be the same sort of leader for the agents they manage. Be the boss you needed when you started as an agent.

Make employee development activities – providing feedback and targeted customer service coaching, recognising good performance and creating a positive and enthusiastic company culture – central to your QA processes.

Engaged service teams need engaged team leaders. By leading by example, and providing training where needed, you can inspire your service team leaders to be the best managers they can be.

Give Agents a Reason to Go Above and Beyond

Why should your agents work to improve their performance when there’s nothing in it for them?

If your contact centre never recognises good performance – and doesn’t reward it with the opportunity for a promotion, bonus or raise – employee engagement will stagnate, and your development efforts will have limited effect.

Performance improvement initiatives should consider progression, or the prospect of it, central to their existence. Otherwise, your employees will take the skills and training you provide and find a better role elsewhere.

This also helps create that bank of operational knowledge we talked about above – senior managers can then make decisions based on what they know works at an on-the-ground level.

Make Your Agents Feel Involved With The Wider Organisation

Frontline staff like contact centre agents are often further away from strategic decision-making apparatus than other employee groups. Orders come from above. The contact centre enacts them.

This makes it difficult for agents to see just how important their work is for the success of the wider company.

Another way to give your agents reasons to go above and beyond is . This includes:

  1. Communicating overarching company mission statements and objectives
  2. Keeping agents informed of strategic initiatives
  3. Explaining why their work is central to these initiatives  

Make sure that every goal you set with agents specifically links directly to current objectives. Explain to your teams that the work they do everyday is directly linked to the success of the company, and that they have an opportunity to make a real difference.

For example, you can show agents how important the work they do is in building a first-class CX. Given that CX is a major investment area for businesses right now, they’re central to providing the competitive edge your company needs to thrive.

Deliver Feedback That Empowers Performance Improvement

You have two main sources of agent feedback available:

  1. Customer feedback (for example CSAT or NPS)
  2. Feedback from your internal quality assurance (QA) procedures

Using both of these in conjunction with each other can be one of your top employee development tools. Every feedback conversation is an opportunity to start disengaged agents back on an upward trajectory – as long as they see the feedback as intelligent, constructive, fair and actionable.

To ensure agents get the most out of their feedback, you need:

  1. QA processes that provide useful, actionable results
  2. Real-time QA feedback so employees can improve on their very next call 
  3. Customer surveys linked to specific interactions with individual agents
  4. Team managers trained in providing effective feedback

Our Smart Quality approach to QA is extremely helpful here. Smart Quality combines the latest in automation technology with a truly agent-centred approach to employee development. This makes it easy to incorporate feedback into your employee development practices and to reap the benefits of an agent workforce that’s constantly inspired to improve.

By Tom Palmer
Tom is EvaluAgent’s Head of Digital and takes the lead on developing and implementing our digital and content management strategies which results in creating a compelling, digital-first customer marketing experience.

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