Monday, May 13, 2013

5 Ways to Improve Agent Performance in your Call Center

Call center agents are on the front line of your customer service and quality assurance efforts. Without the right people in place, all of your planning and establishment of best practices will not achieve the desired call center performance. Here are 5 tips for staffing a call center with superstar agents.

1. Hire Carefully
Review your call center’s screening process for new hires. Are the specified qualifications stringent enough to weed out agents likely to under-perform? Scripts can be memorized and specific skills can be taught during training – but a positive attitude, a willingness to work hard, and an even temperament are just as important when dealing with dozens of calls every day, some from angry customers.

2. Set the Right Expectations
The better prepared an agent is for the job he or she is about to begin, the more likely they’ll grasp the essentials quickly and fine-tune their performance within days, not weeks or months. Managers must be specific in what is expected of every agent, and how those expectations should be met.

3. Training

While some new hires will walk in with the right personality and temperament for telephone work, they still require training on company policies and procedures. Others may be great at following guidelines but will need to work on their communication with callers. Call recording software makes it  much easier to tailor training to a specific agent’s needs, improving both agent efficiency and the time it takes to produce a qualified employee.

4 Measure and Track Performance
An automated workforce management (WFM) solution can access, record and display dozens of the key metrics necessary to measure and track an agent’s performance. These include their average talk and handle time, their speed in answering calls, how many calls are lost, and how many are resolved.

5. Feedback and Support
Even agents that turn out to be outstanding hires may need constructive feedback to prevent mistakes, and positive support to keep them motivated as they adjust to a new position. By using the data collected by WFM, managers will know which areas to focus on. And by keeping the tone of those conversations encouraging, the agent will accept correction without being defensive or anxious about being fired.

In order to implement tips 4 and 5 it is helpful to use automation software such as call center performance management and call center quality monitoring. Both solutions automatically capture and track relevant data and free up managers' and supervisors' time to focus on training, coaching and feedback.