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December 16, 2009

Call Center Digital Signage: Getting Agents to Pay Attention

By TMCnet Special Guest
Dan Boehm, VP Sales and Marketing, Spectrum Corporation

Digital signage is proving its value in call centers every day. With digital signage, call center managers can deliver key stats and KPIs to agents in real time – either individually, by group or as a collective whole – which in turn helps drive improved agent performance.

Study after study shows that when agents can look up from their monitors at an LCD screen or white board in order to get important “big picture” statistics -- or even if those stats are delivered right to their desktops -- it helps motivate them to meet the group goal. In addition these digital signage systems, which are typically integrated with the call center ACD and other core systems, can also be used to “incentivize” agents toward meeting company objectives.

But how can managers ensure that agents are actually looking at these screens when they are supposed to?
Recently, while visiting a 1,000 seat call center, the manager asked me how she can get her agents to read the LCD screens and then take the appropriate actions. These screens were showing group information and critical KPIs -- yet, according to this manager, the agents were not paying attention to the screens and were not taking action. This is not an isolated incident this happens in many call centers worldwide.
The way managers can get the agents to read -- and take action on what they read -- is to make them part of the real time reporting process from the beginning.  This is not to say that agents should make the decisions on the goals, thresholds, or appropriate action, but they should be part of the process so they buy into the process.

A real time reporting process includes:

--Which KPI’s to report
--Group, team leader and agent goals
--What the thresholds shall be
--How often the data is updated
--How to present the KPI’s (LCD screens, desktops, wallboards, etc.)
--Measure, review and recalibration process

In deciding on these critical steps, the agents in smaller call centers and team leaders in larger call centers should be part of the process. 
The type of call center you have will determine what information should be displayed. For example, compare these two call center types:

Customer Service/Sales call center:
1. Calls in queue
2. Average wait time
3. Tickets open
4. Abandon rate
5. Adherence
6. Average handle time

Financial call center:
1. Wait time
2. Service level
3. Calls in queue
4. C-Sat rating
5. Abandon rate
6. Adherence

The data is similar but there are important differences. It is important that agents understand what each KPI is and why they are being reporting and displayed on the screens.

Explain what KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) will be reported on and why. (If you aren’t sure which KPI’s to report, contact Spectrum). Be sure to explain each KPI and what it means to the agent and the call center.

In a survey conducted by Spectrum (News - Alert), more than 25 percent of the agents did not know what some of the KPIs were, or what the abbreviation meant.

When selecting goals for each KPI, make sure they’re just barely attainable, because when thresholds are constantly exceeded agents will not bother to respond to the LCD screens showing threshold violations.

The layout of your call center will greatly affect the type of display device that you should use for alerting agents to the statistics and thresholds. LCD Screens work best with a low cubicle wall center and Desktops work best for a high cubicle wall call center.  The type of display used can affect the agent performance and their ability to read and react to the displays. Getting the agents involved in this decision making process can positively affect agent ownership of the KPIs and thresholds.

At a minimum your call center goals should be reviewed annually.

Set your goals. The goals should be realistically set and should be set to industry standards. (Contact Spectrum to learn more about industry standards. Measure how you are doing against your goals. A historical reporting available from Spectrum can assist in measuring how the agents have performed against goals.

Ask for feedback from your team leaders or top agents. Are the goals realistic or do some need to change.

Reset your goals to help your agents meet the goals. The objective is to improve -- so your goals should be getting better and not worse. If you find yourself reducing the goals, then a more detailed analysis of your call center would be appropriate.

Here’s an example of how having unrealistic goals will not improve agent performance:
In a US-based call center the average wait time was over 90 minutes. This call center supported internal customers for network related issues. The threshold set on the LCD screens, agent desktops and LED wallboards was set for 5 minutes. Therefore, throughout the day the screens, desktops and wallboards were constantly alerting the agents that they had exceeded the handle time. When I spoke to the agents about the screens and wallboards they told me they did not pay attention to them because there was no way they could meet the goals the manager had set for them. When I asked about the desktop screen pops, most of the agents said they would just minimize the screen pop when it came up.

Agents will not respond to unrealistic goals and objectives. Audio and visual threshold messages will be ignored.

Overall call center performance will suffer if the call center manager has not included the agents and team in the real time reporting process. By changing the process and including the agents or team leaders, there is ownership of the process. When agents own the process they will read the LCD Screens or desktop screen pop and adjust their behavior to meet the call center goals.
For more assistance with your real time reporting needs, contact Spectrum.

Dan Boehm is VP of Sales and Marketing at Spectrum Corporation, a leading provider of digital call center signage.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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