Keep employees engaged and vested in their performance to enhance overall business results.
Aside from a Formula 1 pit crew, a contact center could be the most productivity focused and measured environment you can find. Yet these measurements and KPIs are not always connected to the employee experience, making them ineffective and often contributing to high levels of agent stress, burnout and churn.
It’s hard to argue with the fact that satisfied and productive employees directly contribute to better customer results. Just as we’ve placed strategic focus on the customer journey, we should also give attention to the employee journey. Implementing processes that improve the measurement, performance and engagement of employees fosters greater passion for the job, organizational loyalty and employee recruitment.
The Employee Journey
Keeping employees engaged, happy and vested in their performance process empowers them to perform their jobs better. So how is this done?
Provide employees with visibility into their own performance to create a better understanding of how their behaviors impact the organization’s bottom line. This can be done through access to continuously updated scorecards that show individual metrics against goals to help employees understand how their contributions fit into the bigger picture. Even better, scorecards that can automatically generate performance management plans with targets and milestones will give employees and managers the access to dynamic data and regular “wins,” rather than an assessment just once or twice a year.
Encouraging appropriate work/life balance and accommodating flexibility requirements in choosing schedules and trading shifts goes a long way toward the creation of employee contentment, especially if the process is eased by mobile access. Providing tools that give paths to improved service levels reduces employee stress, overtime, errors and fire drills. In addition, with less escalation and the need for crisis management, managers can focus on driving more productive and rewarding work.
Provide employees with ownership of their own coaching by enabling them to fully participate in their quality evaluation process. When done in the context of their individual journeys within the company, employees will feel more connected to the results of their regular quality evaluations by providing their own feedback and commentary on the process. Additionally, evaluators who are able to easily view and reference past employee coaching, learning and performance history across all KPIs (without time-consuming cross-referencing and report pulls) become more effective and productive in their own jobs. With these insights, they can provide quality evaluation feedback that is relevant to the employee’s journey and how well the employee is addressing the overall business needs of the organization—not just reviewing a snapshot of customer interactions, as is traditionally done from both a quality assurance and scorecard standpoint.
These capabilities contribute to overall enterprise productivity by assessing the employee over his/her entire journey and by connecting the employee development process to the broader customer and employee engagement optimization goals.
A Word on Today’s Frontline Managers
Organizations today are in a constant battle between keeping employees happy and engaged and staying focused on driving business efficiencies and cost. Managers must strike the right balance to achieve these objectives.
Whether they are called supervisors, team leads or frontline managers, the people who oversee contact center staff often lack the right training to succeed in a very difficult position. Typically, they are promoted from the ranks because they are skilled on the phones and meet their KPIs, and then are handed a team of 15 to 25 direct reports—a lot of employees to manage by any standard. They have the hardest job in the contact center and the biggest impact on results, employee turnover and general productivity.
On top of this, managers and supervisors—with limited time and an abundance of responsibilities—find themselves facing an increasingly complex multichannel customer environment. More contact centers embrace voice of the customer initiatives to influence internal decision making and supervisors have even become involved in efforts outside their traditional job description. This often includes working crossfunctionally with other teams as the contact center evolves into a hub for internal and external communication and customer feedback up to the executive level.
While contact center managers still spend a good deal of time coaching and training, they do so less in a “one agent at a time” fashion and more in a broad departmental way. Therefore, process improvements and automation have become an increasingly critical part of the job because it serves to streamline agent and workflow management.
These workforce optimization and voice of the customer efforts provide a high level of impact and value on organizational efficiency, customer relationship management, business outcomes and profitability in all types of businesses. But contact center managers, already stretched thin, haven’t always had all the tools they need to influence the productivity of the organization in which they are playing an increasingly important role.
Technology-Supported Employee Productivity Improvements
Today’s leaders provide contact center managers with access to advanced tools to manage and improve employee engagement and productivity. The companies that are most successful are enhancing the abilities of supervisors to do their jobs in a way that keeps the employee journey a priority while still satisfying customer needs. These software platforms enable managers to meet additional levels of responsibility and contribute to overall organizational success. They include functionality such as:
Customizable workflows enable managers to have access to more personalized tools that address their individual style and shorten the time from insight to action. User interfaces that can provide a modern, dynamic and engaging user experience and be tailored to suit individual working styles are beneficial to help ensure that employees are more efficient and productive. A single, customizable environment allows for faster and better management and analysis of omnichannel interactions. Having the flexibility to personalize the user interface to suit individual styles and the work being performed contributes to frontline management, quality assurance and coaching employees to be their productive best when evaluating and analyzing interactions.
Most organizations conduct a capacity planning exercise periodically—whether it’s once a year, quarter or month. These static, subjective evaluations have needed real-time updates and increased visibility that can help to make adjustments based on actual activity. Analytics tools available now can assess day-to-day performance to better understand where there are opportunities for improved productivity and utilization—and where understaffing might be impacting service and profits. These tools capture activity data directly from the desktop; translate this data into work types, volumes, arrival patterns and handle times; aggregate this data into a standardized framework for monitoring intraday volumes and production against service goals; and distill the data into performance scorecards and dashboards—comparing actuals to plan. Creating true, activity-based capacity plans and regularly reviewing these plans against actuals enables organizations to move from subjective plans, “I think I need this many people,” to objective, quantified plans—providing the visibility, consistent methodology, and monitoring capabilities they need to optimize productivity and achieve service goals across not only the contact center but also the back-office and off-phone worker pools.
Quality management applications
These look specifically at employee productivity and supervisor quality to track performance improvements across KPIs over time, and focus, plan and manage improvement of employee performance. Creating performance plans directly from scorecards, and setting up alerts for milestones indicating when employees achieve or fail milestone targets, provides greater insight into productivity and effectiveness over time, ultimately helping to empower employees to complete self-evaluations and understand where they may need additional training. With access to interaction data, managers can better assess coaching or measurement needs, facilitate unique workflows to help coach team members on-demand, and increase performance with milestone-based tracking plans. These types of tools give managers immediate, comprehensive views of employee performance, learning and coaching histories while playing, evaluating or live-monitoring interactions.
The ability to combine information from all of these different applications and systems helps managers to gain a more accurate picture of the employee performance and productivity path and take action where needed. With such tools at their disposal, supervisors can better manage engaged employees, keep their contact centers running smoothly, and meet increased responsibilities across their organizations. This focus on employee engagement results in a better employee experience, improved service levels and increased customer engagement optimization for the business as a whole.
*Capacity reporting exercise*
These static, subjective evaluations have needed real-time updates and increased visibility to make adjustments based on actual activity. Analytics tools can assess day-to-day performance to better understand opportunities for improved productivity and utilization—and where understaffing might be impacting service and profits.