Call Centre Performance Management encompasses metrics, training programmes, systems and coaching. We met Business & Personal Coach, Patricia Zemmour, to ask her few questions about her experience coaching in call centres.
Patricia has a Diploma from the Irish Lifecoach Institute and is a Member of the Association for Coaching in Ireland. She provides proven coaching techniques and has a strong business background in the areas of customer care, technical support and authentication services performed in a highly secured facility. Her personal experience lead her to make the transition to helping people find careers that would be meaningful to them.
As a career coach I assume you often come across people who want to move from their current role, how important is a person’s performance in their existing role?
I would say that the performance is key. In a lot of cases when a person wants to move from their current role an element of dissatisfaction is at play. It can be because the person has been in the role for a while and they feel that they have gone full circle so a feeling of stagnation is arising. It can also be in relation to stress, or company’s culture has changed and the new culture is not aligned with the person’s values, or the relationship with their hierarchy has deteriorated. Those elements trigger a discomfort that can be of different intensity depending on the context, and the person starts thinking of moving on from their current situation, whatever form it is going to take.
From the company’s side, being able to monitor thoroughly their employee’s performance and provide appropriate continuous feedback is also key. Keeping an employee within the company, and help them grow within the structure goes through employee’s satisfaction. For an employee receiving regular and valuable feedback, aiming at helping them to perfect their strengths and acknowledging the areas for improvement is crucial. It has to be followed by appropriate support provided by the company to improve on those areas and close monitoring.
What advice would you give to someone designing call centre performance management scorecards to monitor their staff? Are there critical questions to include?
In a call centre context a lot of aspects have to be taken into consideration. Usually productivity is measured in regards to the volume of workload taken (i.e. calls, emails, mails, chats, etc….) The scorecard needs to take into account the appropriate time considered to be the “productive time”: so being able to get that time accurately is vital, because this will determine the relevance of the result and therefore the quality of the feedback that will be given.
Critical questions would be:
- What are all the different tasks that we want to measure?
- How can we estimate the downtime and determine the reasonable amount per day?
- What common measurement can we use to insure that we look at the big picture?
You have worked with call centre performance management with multiple metrics being monitored, which metrics do you consider the most important and why?
The metrics showing the performance in volume from a given agent was important to insure department/company’s targets were met. It was also an aspect that helped measure the contribution from the different team members to the team’s results. The other metric that was as important was in regards to quality. Both are closely tied up and dependant on each other to insure that the quality of the service delivered to the customer is of high standard.
Do you think call centre agents resent being monitored or embrace it? Does it depend on the individual?
I would say from experience that there is an element of resentment in general if and when the call centre agent feels that the monitoring is not done properly, in other words is not being transparent from their point of view, or if this monitoring is not used to help the person’s development. I believe that in the context of call centres, it is very important to have a strategy for performance management including training, mentoring, and coaching to allow this process to be more a tool to help rather than purely to manage operations, looking mainly at targets. Having a monitoring system in place that is performant certainly helps the process of providing feedback and monitoring the performance.
What are the best sources of information for coaches?
When coaching staff in a call centre environment, it is important to start with tangible information that we can go through with the agent and comment. Therefore the accuracy of the information collected while monitoring, and the agent’s understanding of it are key. Investing in a high quality monitoring tool will determine the impact of providing feedback in regards to performance. There is a direct link between quality and excellence of monitoring and coaching.
Some companies use dedicated people to do the monitoring, in order to insure consistency in assessing the results. I believe that this is a good practice as some indicators would be straight forward (i.e. average hold time, average handling time, etc…) but in terms of content quality (i.e. email, phone interaction, chat) feedback could be assessed differently depending on a number of different factors (i.e. different manager, time dedicated to the monitoring, etc...).
Sharing feedback both coming from the team leader and the agent helps understanding specific situations and above all the mechanisms at play, when the result is not matching the expectations. This provides valuable insight to choose the correct plan of action to help the agent improve their performance. The specific aspects of monitoring in a call centre environment will be important to be looked at as those will determine the quality of the service that is provided to the customers as well as whether the targets will be reached or not.
From your experience in coaching agents what call centre performance management techniques did you use (if any)?
I used transparency and dialogue essentially. Tools are what they are and when used to measure one’s performance, this person needs to be on board. A good approach is to be transparent, explain exactly how the tools work, what is looked at and why. Using the tools to support the company’s results as well as motivate the call centre agents to improve their performance and skills, will increase the level of motivation and satisfaction. This leads to a win-win situation as a happy employee is more likely to deliver good performance and to be loyal to the company.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
It is crucial that call centres are equipped with adequate tools to measure the performance of the call centre agents as it is by nature a job that can be complex to perform and to monitor, as well as being stressful. An important aspect of it is that it is in direct link with the customer satisfaction and therefore it is important that the agent is well trained, that their results are correctly monitored and that feedback is delivered using coaching techniques in order to develop the agent in their role and increase their satisfaction in performing their tasks.
Thanks Patricia for you wonderful insight! If you would like to get in contact with Patricia please email her on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to read a little more about call centre performance management sign up for our monthly newsletter.