Use Technology to Optimize Contact Center Staff

If you manage a contact center, you know the drill. Agents struggle to achieve proficiency and meet performance goals. Supervisors don’t do enough—or the right kind of—coaching to develop them into great, content, and loyal employees. Lots of reports get produced but don’t seem to lead to targeted improvements. And all these challenges have big implications—for efficiency, sales results, customer experience, staff retention and more.

In an era where companies compete for revenue based on “customer experience” and for employees based on opportunity and development, it’s past time to solve these problems and prime time to do new and different things. Fortunately, the market offers plenty of tools that can help with all stages of optimization.

A Variety of Tools Support Agent Optimization
A Variety of Tools Support Agent Optimization

Knowledge Management addresses critical elements of performance by providing job aids, knowledge articles, and answers to frequently asked questions. Even if it’s SharePoint or an intranet or portal, a good search function can help agents can find the right, bite-sized information and avoid the need to wade through documents, escalate, or leave their seats in search of someone in the know. Process or workflow and scripting tools are another great guide, and collaboration tools can quickly get them to an escalation queue or subject matter expert.

ACD reports and Quality Monitoring (QM) are common tools for assessing agent performance, with the latter needing some retooling to address multi-channel use. Voice of the Customer (VoC) increasingly tags along. In a perfect world, it is administered selectively and intelligently soon after contact and gets compared to the internal performance view that QM presents. Analytics drills down into all that data the various tools create and helps an analyst look for patterns, trends and root causes.

Scorecards (real-time) and dashboards (historical) provide a snapshot view to communicate performance. These tools bring in data from multiple systems, and show performance compared to goals and peers, as well as trends over time. Desktop communication tools are replacing the traditional wallboards in many centers, with advantages of visibility and accessibility for all. Portals or intranets (e.g., SharePoint) or CRM communication can provide highlights of important updates that have been disseminated that week.

Coaching tools use metrics, QM results, and scorecards to identify kudos to deliver and target areas for improvement. They can be used to schedule sessions, track that they are completed, account for the initiatives and goals created, and then close the loop on pursuit of those goals. eLearning helps target things to work on as it delivers training modules that may be remedial (e.g., work on processes, system use, soft skills, etc.) or enlightening (e.g., new products, policies, compliance rules). Performance Management (PM) bundles generally include coaching with the scorecards and dashboards at least, often incorporating eLearning as well. If the center uses gamification or other competitions, these can contribute results as well as incentives in coaching.

A Learning Management System (LMS), which is typically an enterprise system managed by HR, can trigger, track, test, and report on training. The center must work with HR to configure this enterprise tool to meet center needs or work outside of it.

As with so many areas of contact center technology, there are many choices of where to focus investments, time and resources in pursing optimization. The first step is to change how you use what you have to get some quick gains. Then, you can identify and fill gaps, adding to what you use.

As you look at your opportunities, avoid the tendency to think only in terms of individual performance, which can certainly make a difference. Consider insights and actions that will lead to centerwide performance improvements as you “close the loop” in using the sources of information to identify changes needed. From there, you define and pursue additional training, systems changes, and process changes that can have an organizationwide impact. The results will show for frontline agents, their leaders and the customer experience.