Published: March 18, 2014 | Comments
“What’s the biggest performance management challenge in your contact center?”
I recently posed this question to contact center leaders. The responses fit into four major themes:
- Finding time to manage the team
- Maintaining peak performance
- Taking ownership of problems
Here’s a look at each one:
Finding Time to Manage
Contact center leaders are stretched thin. They’re juggling administrative duties, special projects, and large teams while constantly putting out fires. This makes it difficult to find time to develop employees.
Managing remote employees poses an additional challenge. Out of sight can easily mean out of mind.
One of the root causes is something I call the Manager’s Paradox: You don’t have enough time now to develop employees, but not developing your employees will cause you to spend even more time fixing problems in the future.
Maintaining Peak Performance
Burnout and complacency often prevents seasoned agents from staying at the top of their game.
One of my colleagues noted that customer service agents in her contact center seem to have an “expiration date” at 18 months. After that, her agents start feeling burned out and their performance begins to decline.
Another contact center leader noted that remote agents often become complacent. Their stellar performance earned them the ability to work from home. As time goes on, some agents begin to take advantage of that privilege by slacking off and becoming disengaged.
This has probably been an issue since the beginning of contact centers. It certainly was a top problem when I started working on contact centers in the 90s.
The challenge is poor attendance is usually a symptom of a larger problem. Disengaged employees aren’t excited about coming to work. Engaged employees can’t wait to be there.
Benchmark Portal’s 2013 Agent Voices study revealed some interesting insights about how contact center agents really feel about their jobs. Here are a few eye-opening stats from my synopsis:
- Only 44.6 percent of agents felt their work environment was optimistic and positive
- Only 56 percent of agents trust messages from senior management
- Only 45.7 percent of agents felt their opinions were valued
Taking Ownership of Problems
Many contact center leaders told me they have a difficult time getting their agents to take ownership of a customer problem and run with it. It’s the second step in empowerment - agents have the ability to take action, but they aren’t using it.
This issue may tie back to managers not having enough time to manage.
Contact center agents need guidance from their managers to understand how they should take ownership. This guidance is hard to come by if the manager doesn’t have the time to provide it.
Many of the toughest problems have simple solutions. You just have to know where to look.
One tool you can use is the Quick Fix Checklist. It’s a tool to help managers quickly diagnose performance problems by focusing on the most common causes of poor performance.
Solving these challenges will also be a primary focus of my pre-conference workshop at the Contact Center Expo and Conference. The session is called “High Performance Management: Getting the Most Out of Contact Center Agents.”
I hope to see you there!