<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://dc.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=102532&amp;fmt=gif">
logo.svg
Written on

Highly engaged employees are 480% more committed to helping their company succeed. And companies with high levels of employee engagement improved 19.2% in operating income while companies with low levels of employee engagement declined 32.7%.

One of the keys to exceptional employee engagement and call center operational efficiency: setting SMART goals in the call center.

SMART goals help you identify legitimate opportunities for improvement and create a work environment that is both engaging and successful. Simply put, without SMART goals, your call center won’t readily recognize when it’s on the right track or not, and thus won’t improve as quickly as you expect.

But setting call center SMART goals is easier said than done. Let’s take a deeper look at what SMART goals are, why they’re important, and how you can set them. Then, we’ll finish up with a few SMART goal examples for call center agents to get you started.

What is a SMART Goal?

SMART goals stand for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. Basically, these are all the essential qualities of effective goal setting that lead to call center success. 

  • Specific: Your goal should be explained thoroughly and as specifically as possible. In that way you can quickly and easily recognize when you’re on the right path to achieve your goal. Be specific about who, what, how, why, where, when, and which (metrics).
  • Measurable: Your goal must have milestones that you can measure. This means there needs to be a specific result, that is measurable; so you can demonstrate that the goal was achieved.
  • Attainable: Setting call center goals that are broad and unattainable is useless. You need to set goals that can be accomplished and that your call center has the means to do so.
  • Relevant: Your call center goals must be aligned with your overall business goals and your company’s values and expectations. They should line up so that your call center agents understand why they are pursuing each goal.
  • Time-Based: Lastly, your goal must have a deadline, so there is a sense of urgency to accomplish it. A clear finish line helps your call center management and agents stay on track for success every single day.

A SMART goal is one that provides an outline for success. There should be no guessing about who’s involved or how you’ll accomplish the goal. It should provide all the necessary details to ensure that everyone in the call center is on the same page and that your work is organized and productive. And similar sentiments can be applied to objectives.

Call Center Goals vs. Objectives

Call center goals and objectives are often used interchangeably, but that’s not quite correct. They are actually two different ideas.

  • Goals are strategic and cover a broad range of directions for both short- and long-term success. Think of goals as overarching guidelines for success.
  • Objectives, on the other hand, are more tactical in nature. They have a narrow focus, are short-term, and are designed to accomplish something far more specific and measurable.

You need both objectives and goals to be successful. The good news is that SMART goals help you create goals that are objective-like. And this is important for helping you figure out what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, how important it is, who’s involved, and when it will be done. In this way, you’ll have a tangible plan for success as well as tangible evidence of that success when you’ve accomplished your SMART goals.

Why do Call Centers Need to Set SMART Goals?

“There are many who subscribe to the convention that service is a business cost, but our data demonstrates that superior service is an investment that can help drive business growth. Investing in quality talent, and ensuring they have the skills, training, and tools that enable them to empathize and actively listen to customers are central to providing consistently excellent service experiences.” - Jim Bush, Executive VP at American Express

If you want quality talent and excellent customer service, you need to set SMART Goals. With SMART goals, your call center can determine how to:

  • Improve CSAT and NPS scores
  • Hire and onboard talented employees
  • Complete more comprehensive call center training (monthly, quarterly, and yearly)
  • Reduce customer churn
  • Increase employee satisfaction
  • Meet sales quotas (weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly)
  • Implement new software
  • Gather and respond to all customer feedback
  • And more… We provide more specific SMART goals examples down below. Keep reading!

Call centers that come up with and implement a list of SMART goals can improve their performance at every level. Goals provide your call center with the clarity you need to prioritize how you spend your time and energy, guiding every decision. After all, goal setting and improvement go hand-in-hand.

In addition, when you set call center SMART goals, you automatically bring a sense of achievement to the call center.. Your agents know what they’re trying to accomplish beyond just answering call after call and responding to chat after chat. This means your agents will feel like they’re contributing to the overall company, which increases engagement, reduces employee churn, lifts morale, and improves customer experience outcomes.

How Management Can Help Agents Set SMART Goals

So, how do you set SMART goals?

A good Call Center Quality Assessment program allows coaches and managers to identify and correct agent behavior that doesn’t support the center’s level of customer service. There is also a huge advantage in giving agents the opportunity to improve their performance by identifying shortcomings in skills or behaviors in themselves. Self-awareness allows the agents to more fully participate in the goal-setting experience and feel more vested in operations and outcomes.

Here are a few ideas for how your call center management can help agents set SMART goals.

Empower Agents to Take Charge of Their Own Goals

In order to set SMART goals in the call center, everyone on the team needs to be involved in the process. Whenever everyone agrees on the benefits of a specific goal, then everyone will work together to reach that goal. That’s why empowering agents to identify their own goals is so critical.

Agent engagement is critical for call center quality assurance and goal setting. Attrition can be a big challenge for call centers, but highly engaged organizations can dramatically reduce staff turnover by instituting ways that agents can be more engaged in their careers and the business overall.

Engaged call center agents:

  • Exhibit a positive attitude towards their employer
  • Show a clear understanding of their role
  • Remain motivated and satisfied by their job
  • Understand business goals
  • Show consistent high performance and productivity
  • Cultivate a two-way relationship with managers

If your agents are engaged and empowered to set their own goals, then they’ll take ownership of them and be accountable for meeting them.

Encourage Transparency with Dashboards

Transparency within your SMART goals and attached quality assurance monitoring (audio, thread, screen) increases understanding and trust. As a manager, it is essential to communicate what is expected of your agents and then to do your best to inspire, motivate, and persuade your agents to accomplish those goals.

One way to do this is with agent dashboards, where contact center QA metrics and scores are visible in real-time. In this way, managers can keep agents informed, allowing them the opportunity to modify their behavior immediately based on how well or poorly they are achieving desired outcomes.

The key is to have dashboards that include both non-quantitative QA metrics (such as empathy cultivation, following company procedures, and value-added) as well as quantitative metrics (NPS, first call resolution rates, etc.) Only with all this information available at the touch of a button can both agents and managers pinpoint deficiencies and proficiencies when it comes to meeting goals.

Discover more about how a Customer Scorecard can help you identify agent SMART  goals.

Provide Real-Time Feedback

Real-time feedback accelerates performance improvement while self-scoring enhances autonomy, self-directed learning, and upskilling. All of this is critical to getting the most out of your SMART goals.

To get started, create a real-time call center quality feedback loop using scorecards. Here are a few ideas:

  • Gamify the agent feedback process by combining scorecards with fun activities. This can help you provide a context for goal-based performance.
  • Reward employees who reach milestones on the way to meeting their goals. This drives your employees to work harder.
  • Focus on more than customer success in your feedback. Use scorecards to discuss SMART goals that have to do with soft skills, process improvement, compliance, and general outcomes.
  • Get your agents involved in the feedback process by asking questions such as, “How are you doing? Where do you need the most help?”

Address SMART Goals During Training and One-on-Ones

During training of new and current agents, there are opportunities to identify goals that have been successfully implemented and those they need to focus on for improvement. It’s also imperative to identify agents who are meeting their targets and those who are struggling. This knowledge is helpful for peer-to-peer training, gaining insight into best practices, and highlighting pain points for agents.

An LMS for your call center agent training can help you work your SMART goals into every training session and one-on-one while also providing clear and measurable insight. With an LMS, you can:

  • Provide formal and informal employee onboarding.
  • Track and score QA metrics to see how well your training is helping you meet your SMART goals.
  • Provide internal development opportunities for agent-focused goals.
  • Develop new learning content to address performance and efficiency gaps.
  • Nurture training through one-on-one engagement.
  • Measure call center improvement with reports.

7 SMART Goal Examples for Call Center Agents

Now that you know how to effectively set SMART goals, what are some examples? There are countless SMART goals that your call center could set. It all depends on your top call center challenges and the type of customer experience you want to provide.

However, while goals will vary greatly by contact center, there are a few SMART goals examples for call center agents that should always be included.

1.   Reduce agent absenteeism by X percent this (month, quarter, year)

Call center agent and management roles are demanding. Staff turnover can be high. Finding, hiring, and training the best people for the job takes time and money. And it is always a challenge to hire the right agents.

Determine your agent churn rate and then decide how much you want to improve it over a specific period of time. This should provide your call center with a benchmark for success and can also be related to employee satisfaction, morale, and engagement.

2.   Improve CSAT & NPS scores by X percent this (month, quarter, year)

If you don’t provide customers with the experience they want and expect, they’ll choose to do business with someone else. According to HubSpot, nine out of ten customers will stop purchasing from a company after three poor customer service experiences

By reviewing your NPS (Net Promoter Score) and CSAT scores, you can figure out how to improve the customer experience operationally, tactically, and strategically. This is the gold standard for measuring customer experience and brand loyalty. With improving NPS as a goal, you’ll be able to determine how well your agents are performing, on which channels you excel, how often you resolve issues, and if your customers are satisfied.

3.   Reduce call transfers by X perfect this (month, quarter, year)

To ultimately handle your customer’s questions and support tickets without transferring customers between agents or departments, you need to know how to optimize your call center workflow. To do this, you need to effectively manage your customer support queue for positive results.

This might mean developing a new organizational chart, prioritizing support based on channel, task, or customer service request, and enabling self-service. In this way, you can more accurately forecast your staffing needs and create an efficient workflow where customers get to the right agent the first time.

4.   Improve key performance indicator (KPI) Y by X percent this (month, quarter, year)

There are a wide range of call center KPIs that your agents can include in their SMART goals. Here’s a short list to keep in mind when setting these goals:

  •   Average Time in Queue: This indicates how well agents are serving your customers and if it is in a timely manner.
  •   Average Abandonment Rate: This tells you how often a caller or live chatter gives up on connecting with your team.
  •   Average Handle Time: This directly relates to customer satisfaction and will indicate how well your agents resolve issues.
  •   First Call Resolution: This represents how many calls, chats, emails, or social media messages it takes to solve a customer’s concern.
  •   Average Speed of Answering (ASA): This measures how quickly or slowly a call center agent answered a call.

5.   Respond to ALL customer feedback

Whether you use customer satisfaction surveys after every call or you have another way to ask for customer feedback, you probably get a lot of it: good, bad, and neutral. One aim for your call center should be to respond to all of this feedback on a regular basis, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.

With positive feedback, you want to respond in such a way that you work on building your relationship and creating a stronger connection with the customer. With negative feedback, your response is an opportunity to prevent churn and figure out how you can improve. And with neutral feedback, you have the opportunity to determine how to move the dial in a positive direction.

Whatever the case, by responding to feedback, you show your customers that you are genuinely interested in hearing what they have to say. And when customers feel that you truly value their insight, they’ll be more likely to stick with you over the long term.

6.   Acquire a new skill by this date

Call center agents should always be looking to upskill and improve their performance. As a manager, you can recommend the new skill to be learned or it can be a new skill chosen based on agent interest. In either case, by making a SMART goal about acquiring new skills, not only do you work training into the weekly schedule, but your agents will be happier.

With new skills, your agents’ jobs will feel easier, their daily work will have less friction, and they’ll feel more satisfied. This reduces agent churn, increases customer satisfaction, and overall enhances your call center performance.

7.   Attend a specific number of training courses by the end of this (quarter or year)

Lastly, there’s no reason that your SMART goals should not include call center training. High-quality training is how your agents improve their performance, close knowledge gaps, increase their soft skills knowledge, and enhance the customer experience. Make regular call center training a goal for every agent and allow them to choose the best training courses for their needs.

One way to do this is by breaking down your education-based goals into steps and learning paths. For example, you can create a sales learning path for agents who need to improve their sales skills with courses such as: Intro to Sales, Sales Enablement, and Sales Software. And you can create another learning path for empathy, customer service, and live chat.

As long as your agents have access to a large catalog of courses that they can pick and choose from for self-directed and instructor-led learning, they can make continual progress.

Quality Assurance Software Can Help You Track Agent SMART Goals

In the end, the only way to know if your SMART goals are effective is to track their progress through quality assurance processes. QA scorecards are designed to measure contact center performance at every step. They help your agents understand how their behaviors impact their goal achievement rates and all call center outcomes.

When agents are engaged with their quality scores and understand what and why their scores are based upon goals, performance is greatly enhanced. Giving agents access to real-time quality scores can allow them to adapt behavior continuously rather than having to wait until the end of the month for their review.

Using digital scorecards to keep track of SMART goals can help you capture the performance data that is most important to your contact center in real-time. You can then take the analytics and insights provided to make radical improvements. And by arming your contact center with scorecards that highlight trends, uncover patterns, and identify strengths and weaknesses, you can make better SMART goals and decisions moving forward.

Discover how Customer Scorecard's enable agents in creating Call Center SMART Goals.

Read More