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Mind KPIs When Coaching Contact Center Agents

November 12, 2015
By Mae Kowalke - Telemarketing Software Contributor

The ultimate success or failure of a contact center rests on the agents who staff it. As a result, making sure that agents are both efficient and skillful with their handling of customers is of prime importance.

One way that contact centers ensure their agents are performing at their best is through staff coaching programs, long an industry standard way to keep agents sharp and smooth over any difficulties they may be experiencing.

Yet, many coaching programs don’t focus on the right lessons. As a recent VanillaSoft blog post by Aleksandr Peterson notes, How to Coach Your Agents Using Call Metrics, “it’s never a bad idea to review call etiquette and general best practices, but the best way to coach effectively is by using measurable key performance indicators (KPIs).”

KPIs help coaching achieve measurable results from training and focusing on what matters most.

Peterson highlights five KPIs that contact centers should consider focusing on, the first and most important of which might be average handle time (AHT).

“New call center agents will inevitably have higher AHTs, but as they master workflows and systems, the number should stabilize,” he noted in the blog post. “Most coaches prefer to see lower AHT as long as the agent is succeeding in other performance areas, such as first-call resolution and customer satisfaction.”

Which brings us to a second KPI to use as a yardstick for coaching success: first-call resolution. Although a little harder to track than AHT since it requires multiple contacts with a customer to disprove and since the lack of a second call doesn’t necessarily prove success, first-call resolution still is an important KPI to pinpoint agents that are struggling to adequately address customer needs.

A third important KPI is customer satisfaction scores.

“Connecting these surveys to specific agents and calls can help you identify learning opportunities, or even a chance to affirm success,” according to Peterson. “If you don’t have a strategy for coaching with CSAT surveys, try pulling at least one score report per agent, per week, and reviewing it during your session.”

Also important KPIs for training purposes are adherence rate and department-specific metrics such as conversions and booked products in a sales situation or minimizing escalations for a support department.

Adherence rate isn’t technically a contact center metric, of course, but it directly affects each agent’s productivity and contact center management as a result.

“An agent with a 70 percent adherence rate is either not pulling their share of the call load, or they’re pulling too much,” noted Peterson. “Most call centers expect a 90 percent minimum.”

Agents are the heart of the contact center, and proper coaching is critical for making the most of them. But make sure you’re using KPIs to measure results from coaching. If you don’t measure, you don’t know what to improve or focus on.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson