Call & Contact Center Agent Accountability

Front line call center directors often find it difficult to develop and implement appropriate accountability processes. These challenges aren’t uncommon by any stretch: call centers are beehives of nonstop activity, and the number of agents is typically large…both factors making constant oversight challenging.

In a previous post on performance criteria and KSAs, I mentioned an absence of standards as a key mistake call centers can make. A “free-for-all-anything-goes” operation isn’t an easy job for call center agents, since it isn’t their ideal work environment. It may seem counterintuitive, but people are happier and more at ease in environments where they know precisely for what they are accountable. Knowing what their primary tasks are and how they fit into the larger corporate mission helps frontline call center personnel excel.

Most call centers understand they need to hold agents accountable for performance. At issue is how successful their accountability programs are and in what ways they can be improved.

Accountability – The Only Way to Achieve Optimal Call Center PerformanceThere is only one way to truly bring about and sustain peak performance in a call center: hold everyone accountable for performance, whether frontline employees or those who support the front line.

Here are six features of a successful call center front line accountability program:

  • Across-the-Board Consistency: Applying different standards to different personnel performing the same task is a big no-no. Measure all front line employees exactly the same way  – accurately and consistently.
  • Training: Front line employees should be trained on the standards for which they will be held accountable.
  • Coaching & Feedback: Frontline staff should be provided accurate and consistent coaching and feedback. Managers should develop plans for keeping the coaches accurate and consistent, and all coaches should be trained and certified to achieve this end.  One tip: utilize routine “coach the coach” sessions or reviews.
  • Technology: Use technology to track data and resolve issues. Companies should make use of evaluation software that updates automatically and provides at-a-glance results through a dashboard. Such systems make it easier for call center supervisors to track agent goals in real-time, and provide them with feedback. (At CSR, we aren’t in the software business – but as a service to our clients, we provide them the use of our comprehensive software reporting platform to ensure they have the right tools for success.)
  • Reporting & Data: Knowledge empowers team members. Share data (and reports) with everyone –especially frontline team members.   You can’t ask for better future performance when personnel have no measures by which to gauge their past or current performance.
  • Rewards & Consequences: Execute on performance utilizing a ‘Rewards & Consequences’ model.  Have a plan in place to document employee performance situations. Develop a reward plan that specifies where and when rewards are appropriate. You should also determine in advance the termination process and timing.  It is important to have the resources in place to offer employees remedial support, where needed.  But what happens when coaching and retraining aren’t working?  After the employee has had the appropriate remedial supports, you will need to proceed with the Consequences.  The termination plan should also be determined in advance and approved by your HR group.

What tools, techniques or tactics do you use to increase call agent accountability?