Published: April 29, 2021 | Comments
An IndustryVoice sponsored post
Most contact center departments use a handful of metrics to measure success. These often include AHT, Wrap Time, Attendance, Quality, CSAT or NPS, and FCR. The agent scorecard is typically balanced using a handful of these to provide a monthly performance score. However, if your agents handle inbound sales or retention, there is really only one metric that matters – Conversion.
Sure, there may be some additional, more granular sales metrics, but the old saying, “Conversion is King” still holds true. Whether you are charged with new sales, up/cross-selling, or retention, the success rate of each opportunity outweighs nearly every other . Jeffrey Eisenberg, CEO of BuyerLegends.com once said, “It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic.” In that context, he was talking about web traffic and conversion, but his point applies to any type of sales – being better at each opportunity is easier than getting more opportunities.
So, how do you improve your conversion rate? Sports analogies are often overused in, well, just about everything, but when it comes to sales and retention, baseball really fits the bill. A player’s batting average is literally how many times they convert an at-bat to a hit. But many sales/retention managers focus solely on improving their individual “hitters” through coaching much like a hitting coach. Skills-based coaching is important, but the best managers also pay close attention to the lineup.
It is no mistake that baseball teams put their best hitters in the first four or five spots (the “top”) of the lineup and the worst hitters at the end (“bottom”) of the lineup. Over the course of a season, this can mean a significant number of additional at-bats for the hitters at the top of the lineup. In Major League Baseball, the average extra number of opportunities for a hitter batting in the #1 spot vs. a hitter batting in the #9 spot over the course of a season would be over .140. A good hitter would turn those extra opportunities into an extra 40 or more hits, while a poor hitter might only get 28 hits from the extra opportunities. Who do you want to get those extra 140 opportunities on your team?
So how do we use this to improve team performance? Let’s first take a look at some real-world data:
Above, we see opportunity volume represented by the blue bars and conversion (save) rate represented by the light blue line. The team average is 20.34% and the agent (R6-H5) getting the most opportunities is converting at only 15.65%, while better performing agents (R3-D5, R4-H5, R3-G6, and R2-D2) are getting far fewer opportunities.
So how do we get more opportunities for strong performers? Firstly, optimize schedules of your best sales agents. To whatever extent possible, schedule your top performers during peak opportunity hours and days of the week. If your agents get a mix of opportunity and non-opportunity calls, you can potentially segment these with IVR routing to determine your peak opportunity hours. If IVR routing is not an option, you could also use ticket data to understand the volume and arrival patterns of opportunity calls. This leads directly into the next strategy.
Use Skills-based routing. By implementing a simple IVR menu, you can segment calls by call type (skill) even if they all come in on the same number. You can segment sales calls, service/support calls, cancellation calls, and even segment by product type or the size of the opportunity – “For orders of 10 or more, press 1…” You can then adjust routing priorities – non-opportunity calls (if they exist) should be prioritized to your best service/support agents while opportunity calls should be prioritized to your best sales agents.
Lastly, use Skill Proficiencies to drive opportunities to the best of the best. The most highly rated agents will get calls first within a skill if they are not already occupied. While not exclusive to cloud-based ACD technologies, these technologies often provide more granular proficiency options, some up to 100 levels of proficiency rating. If your technology does not get that granular, you can simply assign agents to a tranche based on how they are performing, potentially as simple as a 3/2/1 rating system. Most systems use a higher number proficiency to route to first, but some may use the inverse, so make sure you understand how your system works before you assign the proficiency levels.
You can combine all 3 of these strategies, schedule optimization, skills-based routing, and agent proficiency routing, to have the biggest impact in driving opportunities to the right agents.
As you can see, with adjustments made to optimize who gets the most opportunities, this team was able to improve their Save Rate roughly 30% in just one month and at the top of their lineup, opportunities are much more in line with conversion. A team-wide improvement of that magnitude through coaching alone is unlikely and would come with considerable effort.
This strategy can also provide some tactical benefits, too. Agents who may have been enjoying solid commissions based largely on volume of opportunities rather than conversion will be forced to focus on improving their conversion if they want to continue to make similar commissions. Agents who may have been “good” who are now presented with more opportunities may also turn it up a notch when they see that their performance is being rewarded. This can result in less turnover and more opportunities to develop good performers into star performers.
None of this is to suggest that you do not need to coach your agents – you absolutely do! But when you stop spending all your time coaching to improve skills and spend some time and effort managing your lineup, you will find immediate results that amplify your skill coaching efforts.