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Hitting the Right Call Center Metrics Starts with Training and Motivating Agents

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
February 12, 2013

Most call centers – even small ones – keep track of their metrics. Things like average handle time, hold time, idle time, service level adherence and first-call resolution can help a call center understand where it needs work and can lead to better operations and improved customer relationships.

There is no shortage of call center metrics to track, however, and many call centers are confused about which ones they should be chasing. After all…keeping something like average handle time low may benefit the contact center’s budget, but does it really benefit the customer? In some ways, by obeying all metrics wisdom, you may be cancelling out their benefits. While pressing average handle time lower, you may actually be worsening first-call resolution, if the customer feels rushed off the phone and hangs up with unanswered questions.

In a recent blog post from Impact Learning Systems, blogger Sarah Hedayati notes that for call centers that wish to improve their call metrics, it’s wise to develop a coaching plan to assist agents in hitting these goals. Providing employees with goals to meet is great, but a smart company will offer assistance to help them handle reach those goals.

Hedayati recommends that managers create incremental goals: taking an end goal and break it up into smaller increments. This helps employees make small successes along the way that can lead to larger successes. Individual coaching is recommended, too: by listening to recorded calls and coaching agents separately, they are more likely to identify and understand the areas that need improvement. Hedayati also recommends that managers use themselves as models: if an employee is having trouble handling a difficult call, the manager should step in and have employee listen to how they would manage the call. Finally, the most important step is discovering what motivates employees and developing an action plan that makes the most of this.

It’s important to remember that metrics are generally pretty useless unless they are actionable. Tracking metrics you can’t control is of little value. Workforce optimization solutions provider Monet Software suggests the use of scorecards, key performance indicators (KPI), real-time dashboards and customizable alerts deliver a constant stream of intelligence helping contact centers take the right action at the right time to meet business goals. This way, metrics aren’t simply numbers on a graph: they represent a real opportunity to improve call center operations.