Monday, March 26, 2012

Call Center Agent Desktops

It has been said that Content is King, but what does that mean for the agent desktop? Does this mean that all agents should receive the same content (sorted by the skill or queue they are responsible for, of course)? For the busy call center manager many times that is exactly what it means but that does not make it right.

I do not lay blame for this issue at the feet of anyone in the call center. I blame vendors like myself for allowing it to happen and propagate. Many vendors give up trying after the sale and take the easy road to project completion and pay day. However, once the sales has been made the real work begins.

Content for agent desktops should vary based on experience, skills, responsibilities and goals for the call center.
1. Experience: A new agent should not see the same content as an agent who has been on the job for years. A new agent has many concerns and adding complexity and confusion to the desktop only adds stress to the position. Minimize the content for the new agents or eliminate it altogether until you are sure the agent is able to handle the additional information.
Focus on providing strictly status information such as Calls Waiting, Wait Time and Service Level. More complex metrics such as AHT or CSat scores can wait.

2. Skills: Some agents have more skills than others. You see this everyday and secretly wish you had more agents with those advanced skills. Therefore the content you provide to the advanced agents should differ from the other agents.
Focus on metrics that show agent performance such as AHT, Adherence, Occupancy, Abandon Rate. Beginner metrics are not as important to the experienced agent they already know how to react to calls waiting, wait times, etc.

3. Responsibilities: Should an inbound customer service representative answering questions about an online policy claims form see the same metrics as an outbound sale agent? Each of these agents has specific objectives.
Align the metrics with the objectives for the agent.
4. Goals: Your call center has goals and most likely these goals have been expressed to the agents. The content on the desktops should support the goals for the call center. Create objectives for the agents and align the content with the objectives.
Help Desk Service Center should focus on trouble ticket metrics , revenue producing centers should focus on CRM metrics, etc.

Your vendor should work with you to develop the appropriate content for your agents desktops and allow you to get real value out of the desktop solution you have invested in. As a call center manager you should be willing to invest the time to make certain you identify your agent types. Then you should take one more step and provide the right content for your agents so the desktop solutions work for them and is not just another distraction.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Wallboards and workforce politics

At first glance anyone would look at this title and think what does one have to do with the other?  In a properly run call center they would not have anything to do with each other. However, in a call center that does not have goals, objectives, and structured agent reviews wallboards and workforce politics have much to do with each other.

A properly run call center works from the top down. Senior management develops a mission for the call center with the help from the call center manager.  The mission statement will be short clear and concise. The manager then develops goals for the call center that will be used to meet the mission statement.  Then working with the team leaders the manager will generate objectives for the team leaders and agents.

What all of this has to do with wallboards and workforce politics is this: If you do not have a mission statement you probably do not have well thought out goals and objectives.  When there are no goals and objectives for the agents in the call center content on the wallboards end up being full of negative competitive content.  This type of content will create workforce politics.

Some examples of wallboard content that is full of workforce politics.
1. Displaying agent names that are available when there are calls waiting;
2. Listing the agent names and the number of calls taken for the day;
3. Displaying the amount of idle time including breaks;
4. Displaying the names of bottom producing agents with the any of the following metrics: Adherence, Transfers, AHT, FCR, CSat, absenteeism, Revenue or Service Level.

When asked about displaying this type of content some managers claim the competitive nature of the agents helps them when they see how they are ranked.  There are many situations that may have occurred that caused an agent to be a bottom producer at that moment or even for the day.

Notice how in this real life example (name have been changed) the wallboard shows agents are available and there calls in queue. The call center can now openly criticize Black and Vennesch about not taking calls.  There could be a real explanation for this situation which is why showing this information can create negative situations. 

On the other hand providing a list of agents that are top producing in almost any categories is an excellent way to build a positive competitive environment.  If the motive and motivation behind the lists are positive and all of the agents see it that way then lists with agent names are acceptable.

In this example because most of the data is positive it is acceptable to display the agent names and how they are producing.  When showing positive numbers a friendly competition can be created and make the call center more enjoyable.

Agents already have enough challenges to deal with during the day adding to those challenges negative and very public feedback only serves to increase the stress level on the agents.  Wallboards should be used to generate as much positive information as possible when listing agent names.  If the wallboard is showing poor performance show only group information.

This all sounds so easy and normal yet it continues to surprise the Spectrum installation crew the number of times workforce politics are added to the wallboard content.

Spectrum is a leading provider of Unified Contact Center Reporting.  Contact Spectrum today to learn more about wallboard content.

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Dan Boehm
VP Sales and Marketing
+1 713 986 8839