Call center leaders rely heavily on robust contact center software to monitor and track their agents’ performance on the phone lines. In today’s high-stakes call center environment, customer expectations are soaring – and with the move to omnichannel – organizations are not only expected to deliver service levels as promised but deliver the expectations set by their customers.
Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service Report shows some interesting trends. According to their research, 97% of customers reported that customer service is very or somewhat important in the brands they remain loyal to, while 62% have stopped doing business with an organization after a subpar service experience. And yet, each year Americans lose 900 million collective hours waiting on hold.
There’s no doubt that providing excellent customer service is critical to your organization’s bottom line. And as a call center leader, there’s immense pressure to ensure your agents uphold quality customer support.
But achieving this can be difficult without working from a physical location… and there are no signs of remote work going away any time soon. As work-from-home models become more popular for call centers around the world, organizations are finding refuge in technology and cloud connectivity that enhances their virtual call center operations. If you’re a call center leader who’s seeking to accelerate your remote call center performance, you’ve come to the right place.
What is Agent Productivity in a Call Center?
Agent productivity (performance) is a broad term used to describe how well individual agents handle calls at your call center. This includes how many calls they carry out during their shift, how often they’re able to solve a caller’s issue on the first calls, and how well their actions align with your organization’s established service level agreement (SLA) for achieving desired business goals.
How to Calculate Call Center Agent Productivity
Whatever your call center designates as outputs and inputs, the formula for calculating agent performance is:
- Agent Performance = (total output ÷ total input) x 100
For example, if your call center mainly handles inbound sales calls, and your agents spend 7 hours of an 8-hour work shift talking to potential customers, filling out forms that capture their information, and making sales, their productivity/performance is:
- (7 hours of sales activity ÷ 8 hours on the clock) x 100 = 87.5%
Some call center directors focus more on average handle time (AHT). An agent’s average handle time is total talk time plus total hold time plus post-call work time divided by the total number of calls an agent makes. In a more mathematical form, this looks like:
- Average Handle Time = ((total talk time + total hold time + post-call work time) ÷ total number of calls)
For example, say your call center agent spends roughly 4.5 hours (270 minutes) carrying out 25 calls and 2.5 hours (150 minutes) on post-call work in an average 7-hour period of an 8-hour workday. The callers were on hold for approximately 3 minutes before their calls were picked up. Their individual average handle time would be:
- ((270 minutes + 3 minutes + 150 minutes) ÷ 35 calls) = 12 minutes
Whichever formula you choose, your collective call center performance is the sum of all individual agents’ productivity. There are many tactics call center leaders can adopt to improve total output, average handle time, or however you prefer to measure call center performance.
Effective Tips for Call Centers to Track & Accelerate Remote Agent Performance
It’s essential to set and track realistic goals to make sure your call center team is set up for success. When you establish, monitor, and share these KPIs, the individuals that make up your organization understand how their routine actions affect the entire organizational operations.
Here are 5 tips on how to effectively accelerate your remote call center agent performance.
1. Use Call Center Software to Streamline Your Operations
Improving your remote call center’s service level by improving agent performance becomes a much more manageable task if your operations are tracked and analyzed with the help of call center software. There are many challenges of being a remote call center agent, but learning to use a manual phone system shouldn’t be one of them.
Your remote agents will be much more productive if they can take advantage of time-saving automated processes. Cloud-based call center software offers a myriad of automated services, such as call monitoring, call recording, call scoring, voice transcription, and speech analytics, to name a few. By automating repetitive processes, you can focus on call center agent productivity and call center SLA metrics instead.
2. Monitor All Remote Calls
No matter how spread out your team is, monitoring calls is important to enhance agent performance. Some benefits of monitoring remote call center agent calls include:
- Benchmark Remote Agent Performance: Call monitoring gives you a birds-eye view of what’s happening when customers and potential clients contact your organization. This feature lets you listen in on agent calls in real-time so you can observe first-hand how a conversation is going and how well the agent handles it. Then, you can begin to benchmark call center agent performance and devise a plan to improve upon it.
- Remain in Compliance: Contact center providers with call recording services allow you to tape calls for later examination and analysis. Many organizations use this feature to demonstrate to employees best practices to help increase their productivity. In some industries, call recording is required for legal purposes. Call center leaders should take advantage of this to dive deep into their call logs to discover how they can improve upon the call experience for both the caller and agent.
- Improve Remote Agent Training: Another feature of most call monitoring software is the ability for leaders to coach an agent on a live call without the caller knowing. This is often referred to as a “whisper” option. Live coaching is especially useful when training new agents or seasoned staff who need a little extra help. Barge is a helpful tool to get the agents back on track. If the conversation is sliding, leaders can join in and steer the script.
As a best practice, monitor your remote agent calls for at least one hour per week. This practice allows you to hear first-hand how incoming opportunities are welcomed, what issues existing customers are having with your product or service, and how your team is handling requests. There’s no substitute for real-time exposure when it comes to learning about and improving customer service issues.
3. Track Your Call Center Analytics
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Call center reporting metrics can show where your call center agent team excels and where they can do better.
Training your team to work based on actionable insights will help your agents stay on track with their performance goals. There are plenty of contact center analytics and reporting software platforms available that shows a plethora of call center SLA metrics. The data that your team deems as essential key performance indicators (KPIs) will depend on your industry and your business’s goals. Some of the most common, best KPIs for call center operations are:
- Average after-call work time: This is measured by adding the total time spent by the specific agent over a set period and dividing the sum by the total number of calls over the same time period.
- Average call abandonment rate: This is calculated by the number of abandoned calls divided by the total number of inbound calls and multiplying by 100.
- Average handle time: To determine your average handling time, add total talk time, average hold time, and total post-call work. Then, divide that number by the total number of calls.
- Average speed of answer: Calculate your average speed of answer by dividing your total wait time for answered calls by the total number of answered calls.
- Calls handled: Measure this by adding the total talk time, total hold time, and average wait time together. Then, divide that sum by the total number of calls.
- Customer satisfaction: Measure this by dividing all the positive responses by the total number of responses and multiplying it by 100.
- First call resolution rate: To determine your FCR, divide the total number of customers who said their call was resolved on the first call by the total number of customers surveyed.
For more information on how to benchmark call center KPIs, check out our blog, Crucial Call Center Metrics & KPI Benchmarks to Track.
4. Offer Regular Remote Call Center Agent Education
Regular professional education is a must for keeping your remote teams on the same page and confident in their roles. As technology changes, your remote call center agents will need guidance on how to use new hardware or software. If regulations change, they will need to know how to stay in compliance.
Plus, your team is likely made up of individuals from many different educational and cultural backgrounds. Workshops or moderated discussions about the level of professionalism and service expected of them will help everyone get on the same page and present a unified, pleasant customer service front. When you consistently offer learning opportunities for your team, you’ll see their performance improve year after year.
For training that goes beyond slide decks and required reading, consider establishing an intra-department mentoring program for your call center. You have a wealth of experience and knowledge with the veterans on your team. They know how to plan their workload and handle anxious callers. Pair your seasoned, top-performing agents with newer agents eager to grow their skills within your organization.
Encourage the “all-stars” to pass on their knowledge to the new staff, or to anyone interested in putting in the extra work required to earn more responsibility. A mentoring program can be loosely structured with just a few required meetings over a relatively short time. Or, you can make it more comprehensive by hosting workshops for mentors and mentees, creating a curriculum, and setting up department-based small groups for further discussions and exchanges.
5. Create an Incentive Program
Reward your remote agents for their hard work and encourage them to keep striving to perform better by establishing an incentive program. Everyone enjoys recognition for improving their performance whether that recognition comes in the form of monetary bonuses, prizes, experiences, or a combination of these. Furthermore, incentive programs can engage employees better. Engaged agents display a greater commitment to their company and to the quality of their work, which in turn improves the productivity and profitability of the company. An incentive program can therefore kick-start your call center’s productivity.
Some examples of ways to incentivize your remote agents include:
- Team Awards: A little friendly team competition never hurt anyone. Set up an incentive program for your day shift and night shift teams. Whichever team has the lowest average call handling time over thirty days wins a prize.
- Physical Gifts: Another great way to incentivize your remote agents is by surprising them with a package full of office swag. T-shirts, pens, notebooks, and bookbags with your company logo not only make your team feel appreciated but also make them feel proud to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
- Time Off: You may need to work with your HR department on this one. But another great way to show appreciation for your agents is to give the top performer an extra day of PTO.
Be sure to personalize your incentives. You can do this by polling your remote agents to find out what types of prizes they would appreciate. The most effective incentive programs that increase agent productivity are those that offer meaningful, desired rewards. The requirements for winning an incentive should be challenging but achievable. Consider having your agents play a major role in developing their incentive program so they feel a greater sense of ownership in the quality of their work and the overall call center productivity level.
Improve Your Call Center’s Productivity with AVOXI
Improving the service level your call center agents offer should be a top priority for call center leaders. Call center agent performance depends largely upon the quality of call center software use and processes already in place. However, agent performance can be accelerated on an individual basis through ongoing training, live call coaching, call center mentoring and robust incentive programs.
A significant improvement in agent performance won’t happen overnight. You must allow your agents to familiarize themselves with the product or new process, so they may learn and create a workflow system that works best for them. Providing a seamless customer experience relies on reputable voice and messaging software that supports all of your call center agents. If you’re looking for ways to improve your call center performance, talk with the knowledgeable team at AVOXI for solutions that work for teams of all backgrounds, sizes, and goals.