Challenges in measuring and evaluating agent performance hold contact centers back from becoming more strategic business assets.
The Customer Journey Platform team has always been focused on improving the business and operational performance of our contact center customers. So for the second year in a row, we partnered with CC-Pipeline to conduct a survey of contact center management on how they measure agent performance and productivity. This year’s BroadSoft Agent Performance Survey, surveyed more than 200 respondents representing a variety of industries and types and sizes of contact centers.
Our overall conclusion is that the contact center industry is in a state of flux, as contact centers become less focused on operational improvements, and more focused on strategic business outcomes. The results suggest that the industry is struggling with measuring and evaluating call center agent productivity and performance. In the process, companies are missing opportunities to transform their contact centers into assets that can sell, upsell, and retain customers. We believe that the companies that take advantage of these opportunities and make their contact centers more strategic will reap greater bottom-line rewards. To speed up that transformation, contact centers need to adjust how they measure their performance and strategic contribution to the business.
Compared to results from the previous survey, the 2017 survey saw definite progress in some areas, with substantial room for improvement in others. Here are some highlights:
Broad Set of Agent Performance KPIs
Companies are tracking a broad set of KPIs, which suggests the industry hasn’t really determined which indicators are most important for tracking call center agent performance.
Even though the total number of KPIs has increased, most of them are still operational KPIs. In fact, the number of business KPIs (e.g., first-call resolution, number of sales and total sales) being tracked actually decreased year over year. Five of the top six KPIs are operational (e.g., call quality, attendance, average handle time, number of calls, and adherence to schedule). The only top KPI that is business-oriented is customer satisfaction.
Figure 1. Popularity of Agent Performance KPIs
One probable reason is that operational KPIs are easier to track than business KPIs. However, it is counter-productive for companies to focus so much on operational KPIs and give such little attention to business-related KPIs. This is especially true since the technology to track business KPIs is available today.
Sophisticated contact centers can take advantage of today’s advanced tracking technologies to better measure their agents’ productivity, and become more strategic corporate assets. It’s probable that, as the industry becomes more mature, more companies will take advantage of these advanced technologies to track the business impact of their call center agents.
Approaches to Integrate Data from Multiple Contact Center Systems
Almost all the respondents use multiple systems to track performance. Compared to the previous year’s results, fewer companies are integrating that data manually or using standard reports. More companies are developing their own systems, such as data warehouses, to integrate the data. Yet many of these companies are not satisfied with their results. This is exactly why we developed CC-One Analyzer, so that companies could benefit from the economies of scale that a vendor can deliver when developing technology to integrate data from multiple contact center systems.
Frequency of Tracking Agents
More companies report on call center agent productivity on a daily basis, and fewer are reporting in real time. It appears some companies are struggling with real-time reporting beyond basic operational metrics such as the number of calls or size of the queue. One possible reason is that their in-house systems do not integrate data from multiple system in real time. Another reason could be that we had more multi-site contact centers participate this year. We believe that this is a substantial opportunity for improvement because technology exists, like CC-One Analyzer, to track real-time agent performance data from multiple systems and multiple sites.
Skill-Based Routing Gaining Popularity
Companies are reducing their reliance on the “next available agent,” “most idle agent” and “round-robin” criteria to route callers to agents. More are using the “best available agent” criteria, which is defined in a variety of skill-oriented ways including “skills based on training,” “predefined skills assigned to agent at the manager’s discretion” or “predefined skills assigned to agent based on other process.”
Skills-based routing to determine best available agent is likely so popular because most systems support that routing strategy. However, this type of routing can be subjective and can easily miss some of the most valuable agents. Analytics-based performance evaluation takes the opinion out of the equation and lets companies look at their agents performance objectively. If a contact center is going to be a strategic business asset, we believe it needs to adopt routing strategies based on statistical performance data that determines their contact center agent productivity.
Collaboration with Subject Matter Experts
For a while, we’ve been promoting agent and subject matter expert collaboration to improve agent performance, and it looks like it is catching on. Most companies report that their contact center agents have good access to subject matter experts. Chat is clearly emerging as the most popular method of collaboration.
The survey was produced by BroadSoft, now part of Cisco, and Contact Center Pipeline. More than 200 respondents participated in this survey, which took place in the second half of 2017. Respondents spanned a wide variety of industries, including financial services, healthcare, consumer products and professional services. Slightly more than half the respondents were contact center managers or higher-level executives. Many oversee multiple sites, and multiple teams within the same site.
We encourage you to read the full BroadSoft Agent Performance Survey Report which includes more details, charts and insights about the transformation of contact centers into strategic business assets.