Ranking and Benchmarking Agent Performance for CX Delivery
One of the customers' biggest complaints about their experience using a call center is the inconsistent Customer Experience (CX) they have trying to resolve an inquiry or problem. Put differently, get one solution from an agent and a different solution from another agent for the same issue trying to resolve an inquiry or problem.
Every call center has agents and supervisors who perform at the world-class to poor level for First Call Resolution (FCR) and Customer Satisfaction (Csat). Therefore, it is helpful to identify agents performing at the world-class to poor performance level to improve customer service.
As a result, many call centers have improved CX by identifying, improving, and terminating poor customer service-performing agents. Moreover, many call centers have improved their FCR and Csat by improving 2nd and 3rd quartile agents' CX performance with less focus on 4th quartile agent's performance. It is a belief of many call center managers that it is easier to improve 2nd and 3rd quartile agents than 4th quartile performing agents.
Ranking agents and supervisors on their customer service (e.g., FCR, call resolution, and Csat) performance is one of the most important and impactful practices for improving FCR and Csat performance and delivering a consistent CX. A best practice for ranking and benchmarking agents and supervisors' customer service performance is by peers, teams, call types, skill types, line of business, based on call center post-call survey method results.
However, unfortunately using a Voice of the Customer (VoC) post-call survey method for performance ranking is seldom ever practiced. Instead, it is more common to rank agents' and supervisors' performance on traditional operational metrics such as Quality Assurance (QA) scores, productivity, sales, and schedule adherence.
While using traditional operational metrics is a good practice, it influences managers' viewpoints of who the top performers are. For example, suppose you compare your ranking of agents' and supervisors' FCR and Csat performance to how you would have ranked them using your traditional operational metrics. In most cases, you will find that there can be significant differences.
Another example worth mentioning is that clients have asked SQM to identify their best agents for customer service (e.g., FCR and Csat) performance. Moreover, they will identify their top-performing agents using traditional operational metrics. As a result, in most cases, the ranking of the agents' comparison (e.g., customer service versus operational metrics) for top performance has little or no correlation.
It is essential to evaluate the differences between FCR and Csat performance and traditional operational metrics' performance. Doing these evaluations encourages senior managers to discuss whom the best performers are at the supervisor and agent levels based on FCR and Csat results. At SQM, we have found that this exercise creates a new paradigm of determining the best performers because you are now using FCR and Csat data as part of the evaluation exercise.
A phenomenon exists around the discussion on what is more important, customer service metrics (e.g., FCR and Csat) or operational metrics (e.g., QA scores, productivity, sales, schedule adherence) when ranking supervisors' and agents' performance. Most world-class customer service senior managers place a higher value on the customer service metrics than on the traditional operational metrics. However, in non-world-class call centers, senior managers emphasize traditional operational metrics in most cases.
As difficult as it may be, sharing your ranking of supervisors' and agents' FCR and Csat performance with an employee is one of the best practices for improving individual results. For example, telling an agent they are ranked 14th out of 15 agents on their team for their Csat performance will, in many cases, motivate them to improve their ranking position. We recommend that you do not share individual rankings of non-world class agent and supervisor performers with other team members.
When ranking agents, it is crucial that the survey sample sizes are large enough to provide directionally accurate Csat results. At the agent level, SQM recommends that no less than 15 surveys (five surveys per month) be used to determine the ranking. You can use a three-month rolling average, which allows you to report out every month.
Supervisors and agents with high rankings are motivated to stay on or near the top, especially when they believe senior managers view the rankings as an important way to identify who does the best job. While many supervisors and agents will share their ranking with their peers on their own accord, others would rather not. Ranking reports at the supervisor and agent level for FCR and Csat performance should be done every month.
Sharing the customer service ranking with an agent is a best practice for motiving them to improve or maintain high performance. Also, it is helpful to identify world-class customer service agent performers and share their VoC performance with their team and within the call center. Recognizing world-class performing agents for their VoC performance motivates them to maintain or improve their customer service performance.
The bottom line is that ranking supervisors and agents for their Csat performance is an opportunity to create high accountability. Furthermore, ranking agents for VoC performance is also a proven best practice for quick FCR wins (1% to 5% improvement) and delivering a consistent CX.