10 Tips to Improve Agent Performance
Contact centers rely on agents to deliver a lasting first impression and exceptional service to every customer. Without a strong frontline, you risk losing customers, a poor reputation, and lack of growth. Some contact centers focus solely on quantity and measure success by the number of calls managed in a particular timeframe. For success to become an ongoing reality for contact centers, you need to shift the focus from quantity of calls to the quality of interactions by consistently reviewing and working to improve agent performance.
When you continually work to improve agent performance, you not only set yourself apart from your competition, you also create a stronger loyal customer base and a favorable business culture that agents are proud to be part of. Whether you a struggling to meet your goals or are knocking them out of the park; there is value in reviewing your agent performance. Here are ten tips to help improve agent performance
1. Never stop training.
Contact centers usually provide new agent training that teaches procedures, policies, and expectations. It shouldn’t be a once and done activity though. Business goals and customers needs/wants change overtime and agents need to remain informed to deliver better performance results.
2. Offer flexible schedules.
Flexible schedules along with work at home opportunities are increasing in popularity as more millennials enter the workforce. These days, individuals of all ages and background are busy with multiple activities for themselves, children, and even caring for aging parents. Flexible schedules give agents the opportunity to fit in the essential life activities while still balancing a career.
3. Use IVR.
Interactive voice response (IVR
) is a valuable tool for contact centers when used appropriately. IVR technology gathers information about callers before they are connected with an agent best equipped to help. This information is shared with the agent in real-time, so they know who is on the line and have instant access to the customer’s history before answering the call. This automatic access to information simplifies their routine and makes it a more pleasant experience for the customer.
In the past, contact center managers had to manually review calls to score performance. Thanks to speech analytics software, contact centers can automate the process. Speech analytics automatically records and listens to every phone call. The software grades the call based on criteria established by managers and shares this via a scorecard with agents when the call is complete.
By having instant access to this information, agents take ownership in their actions because there is no questioning where they stand in regards to expectations. This allows them to make adjustments to improve on their next call.
5. Merge databases to simplify research.
Often, contact centers utilize various databases to manage customer information including sales software, CRM, and a knowledge center. This slows down an agent’s ability to efficiently help customers because they have to review multiple locations to uncover the answer they need. When you merge these into one database like an interactions analytics solution, information is more easily accessible for agents.
6. Acknowledge their successes.
Recognizing agents for their efforts and celebrating their successes goes a long way. By recognizing them, you show they matter and are an important part of your agent team. When agents feel appreciated, they tend to work harder, are open to new ideas, and continually look for ways to improve their performance.
7. Properly staff agents.
Customers don’t appreciate long hold times, so why would your agents? Long wait times are often caused by not having enough agents staffed to handle the number of calls. Contact centers can fix this error by reviewing call history and identify times, days, and other trends that cause an influx of calls. Once you have this data, readjust your staffing numbers to adequately reflect the numbers of incoming calls. As a result, you will not only deliver better service; your agents will be happier too.
8. Provide personalized feedback.
No two agents are the same, and they shouldn’t be treated as such. It is important for contact center managers to provide personalized feedback to every agent. When managers take the time to review performance results and provide feedback, it shows agents that they are more than just a number. It shows that you are invested in their future, which results in a better performing agent.
9. Empower agents to make decisions.
Scripts are important to assure ongoing compliance, but agents also need to feel empowered to make crucial decisions when necessary. Give agents the freedom during certain scenarios to go off-script and appease a customer if it is for the greater good of the company.
10. Implement changes based on data.
One of the biggest performance mistakes contact centers make is to invest in analytics software and then do nothing with the data. This data often uncovers trends and problems that hinder agent performance. Management should review it consistently and make changes to improve ongoing performance.