Agents are pivotal in captivating and retaining customers. But they can be so wrapped up in meeting their metric of average handle times that the customer fades into the background. Luckily, there is a sure-fire way to assess agent performance without losing the all-important customer in the shuffle.
Focus Metrics on the Customer
Try measuring agent performance according to metrics that focus on customers. If you embrace metrics like contact quality, customer satisfaction (C-SAT), and first-call resolution (FCR), you allow agents to take care of customers instead of panic about the clock and call quotas.
Companies love to brag about how customer-centric they are and how they’re all about the customer experience, but many of these companies focus on metrics that don’t always support these claims. In other words, they don’t put their metrics where their mouth is. They talk a lot about customer satisfaction, but then they slam their agents over the heads with rigid metrics like average handle time (AHT) and calls handled per hour, which results in higher levels of agent burnout and attrition and, of course, bad customer experiences.
Keep Traditional Metrics In Place
Contact centers shouldn’t completely do away with AHT and similar metrics. Such traditional metrics are important for planning purposes and to help keep costs in check. It’s a good idea for centers to look for agents whose performance is far outside the norm on these metrics, indicating a skill or knowledge gap that can get taken care of with coaching and training. Centers need to keep an eye on things like AHT, but in the best centers, the real focus is on C-SAT, contact quality, FCR, and adhering to schedules.
When metrics focus on the customer, agents embrace their role and feel like advocates for the customer. When metrics measure contact quality and issue resolution, agents listen more attentively to customer needs. They are able to find what customers are looking for more quickly without mistakes, resulting in fewer callbacks and customer frustration. Things like AHT are kept in check naturally, customers are treated well, and agents experience less frustration with supervisors and managers.
An Example from Scotiabank
Scotiabank, a bank in Canada, is a great example of a center that puts their metrics where their mouth is. A few years ago, this bank decided it was time to replace its traditional AHT-centric culture with a love-the-one-you’re-with culture. The mission was to have agents focus on a customer and meet their needs before rushing off to the next caller.
Stephen Gaskin, the Contact Center VP for Scotiabank, says, “We don’t want our agents rushing through a call just so they can get to the next person—It’s not about that . . . ‘Love the one you’re with’ [means] focus on the customer you are with, connect with them and ensure that the reason for their call is resolved.” At Scotiabank, metrics like contact quality, FCR, and adherence to schedule carry much more weight on the agents’ scorecard than do AHT numbers. As part of the love-the-one-you’re-with approach, the contact center even removed it’s electronic leader boards on the walls because management didn’t want the constant flashing of productivity-based stats and numbers distracting agents from truly serving each customer.
Since implementing the love-the-one-you’re-with approach, agent engagement and attention at Scotiabank contact centers have greatly improved. Gaskin believes that AHT is a measure for managers, not for agents. That’s not to say that his agents had zero accountability with regard to AHT, however. In fact, from the moment agents start new-hire training, they learn, as Gaskin says, how to shorten calls without impacting quality. Measures that are good for the contact center and also good for the customer can be met.