Revolutionised a FTSE 100 insurer’s operations salesforce with a new approach to people management grounded, reducing staff attrition by 17%
Working in call centres can be as difficult as it can be rewarding. But many often see the former side of that proposition more frequently than not; stress, anxiety and mental health related absences are very common in large call centres across the country, and this leaves operation centre leaders with a difficult challenge to solve. How can the environment be adjusted or the management approach developed to create a new, less stressful approach for agents so that work seems more rewarding than difficult?
Many call centres use average handling time (AHT), abandonment rate (AR) and net promoter score NPS) as key metrics to gauge agents’ performance. This seems logical but creates significant issues in moments of peak demand. In an ideal world, agents would have low AHT, low AR and high NPS but how possible is this? On the one hand, NPS is a function of the outcome of the call and whilst it’s not always true that long calls=great outcomes, more often than not short calls do not create great outcomes. Yet agents are incentivised to get off the phone as quickly as possible to keep AHT And AR low. These conflicting outcomes are confusing, conflicting and stressful.
To make matters worse, Net Promoter Score (NPS), a quantitative indicator of customer satisfaction, where a customer will answer a survey based on their willingness or propensity to promote the brand in question. But NPS is a metric riddled with issues, only one of which we are concerned with here: how do operations managers train agents to improve when one number is meant to represent not only consumer feelings about the core product, but also the experience of using it, the agent’s response to any issue, the solution defined by the agent or the amount of time the customer waited on the phone?
The reductive quality of NPS means that the answer, for many businesses, is that it just isn’t the right metric. This was the case for a large FTSE 100 insurer that turned to TMAC for assistance with a very familiar challenge: how might they improve agent well-being, reduce stress and in turn improve outcomes for customers?
Our coaching strategists worked closely with our analytics specialists and hand-in-hand with the client team to develop a new metric which was still easy to understand as one number, but far more representative of the entire customer experience. TMAC’s consultants are outcome-focused and believe that data needs to be used effectively for it to mean anything, so it was important to deliver on the challenge well. But what parts of the customer experience needed to be represented?
The first objective was to choose metrics that would represent only the customer’s experience of contacting the brand, rather than a proxy for product satisfaction. For example, one indicator of customer experience was the proportion of customers that were transferred to another agent; no one likes to speak to multiple people when trying to solve a problem, so it made sense to monitor this metric. It also added a layer of specificity for managers so that when coaching agents, they could refer to a specific improvement area.
These metrics were then (re-)framed for agents; average handling time became “Talking to Your Customer,” whilst the percent of customers transferred became “Customer Journey.” And, rather than confusing AHT or AR, adherence became “Being There for Your Customer” and was paired with “Contact Closure” (formerly wrap time).
Each of these metrics are scored, weighted and aggregated into a top level metric that made it easy for agents and managers alike to address and train agents to meet consumer needs in a more robust way, rather than just meeting their needs. But the way the information was being presented to agents was also important, so TMAC created a bespoke dynamic dashboard that adjusted its view based on which agent was using it, ensuring both agent and manager focus on the relevant metrics to improve performance.
In only 35 days, with clearer metrics that had clear corresponding behaviours, managers were able to train agents more effectively and create growth plans with more specific milestones to meet, reducing anxiety and stress amongst the salesforce. This led to:
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A collection of important statisitcs that any contact centre leadership team needs to know