Published: December 09, 2020 | Comments
Over the last 30 years, I have been a contact center manager, workforce management (WFM) consultant and Chief Operating Officer for a provider of WFM software, so I can tend to fixate on the key performance indicators (KPIs) around workforce management. Now that software can better track data points like agent adherence and shrinkage, the sheer volume of useful information for contact center leadership is greater than ever before.
Just about every manager can evaluate the contact center’s basic metrics — service level, average handle time, and customer satisfaction — but to build sustainable success it’s critical to get a broader view of contact center operations. Here are three higher-level KPIs you should be tracking if you want to rise above the day to day and look toward the long-term success of your contact center.
For most contact center agents, the work isn’t done when a call is over. Oftentimes, they must enter additional data, update a database, or follow up with coworkers about their most recent customer interaction. Wrap-up time, sometimes known as after-call work or post-call processing, can be a hidden drag on contact center efficiency. If agents are taking just as long in between calls to process information as they spend communicating with customers, the contact center never gets out of second gear.
Keeping a close eye on average handle time is important, but agents can’t always move on to a new call the second they hang up. Managers should seek to reduce wrap-up time by establishing clear workstreams for all agents. In training, help agents build a checklist to quickly work through before moving on to a new customer.
Minimizing wrap-up time is a staffing issue as well; just because an agent excels at email or chat communication doesn't mean they will also thrive on the phone. Better, more consistent workstreams mean that agents can handle more contacts and minimize the call abandonment rate. As always, maximizing the time spent working with customers should be the aim.
No agent is perfect. Despite hours of training, they will deviate from protocols and procedures, or just not have their “A” game that day. While software cannot construct the perfect contact center agent, it can identify your best agents and give leadership a better understanding of where agents need to improve.
Methods for measuring agent quality have come leaps and bounds in the last decade. Thanks to automated quality monitoring combined with speech analytics tools, records of every customer interaction can be assessed objectively and scored. That quality score is a key metric; the higher the average quality score in your contact center, the closer you get to the ideal agent.
These tools have become even more important as many contact center managers are working with remote teams of agents. When you can’t walk the floor and check in face-to-face, it’s helpful to drop into a call and hear what’s happening.
This is not “Big Brother” lurking over the agents’ shoulders, though. Monitoring software empowers the agent to know how well they are performing relative to the company’s expectation. Data from these tools provides managers with greater insight into the strengths and weaknesses of their agents, and this deeper knowledge of the workforce allows for new ways to rank and recognize agents in other ways than the traditional method of using seniority. For example, instead of using seniority as the highest ranking variable, WFM schedulers can use quality scores and other performance indicators to determine who gets the first rights to schedule offers.
Managers are often so focused on the day to day performance of their employees that they can miss an unhappy agent, or one whose good performance belies other problems underneath. Keeping employee morale high is critical, because the single fastest way to lose efficiency in the contact center is to lose experienced employees. That’s why reducing agent churn has to be an area of focus.
Training new agents on your technology and processes can take weeks or months due to the steep learning curve for WFM solutions. If your agents are doing their jobs well, if their metrics are strong and their quality scores reflect that, then it’s up to the manager to keep the train rolling along. A high churn rate is expensive, costing contact centers thousands of dollars per lost employee. Keeping institutional knowledge in the contact center also helps strengthen recruitment and agent onboarding, as senior agents pass along tips to new employees.
Elements of your workforce optimization suite can help reduce agent churn. While the benefits of powerful schedule optimization algorithms are mathematically undeniable, unfavorable work shifts can promote turnover. A balance between optimized scheduling and happy agents must be achieved.
In workforce management, we are rich with data that helps the contact center run smoothly each day. Optimized schedules are a constantly moving target. When working with a contact center for the first time, I like to look beyond WFM metrics to see how strong their operations are. The long-term strength of a contact center is evident from higher-level KPIs, like agent churn and agent quality, that tell you the kind of people working there and the quality of the environment management has created.