Measuring Agent Effectiveness

June, 2014

To deliver the best value for the organisation and the highest satisfaction for customers, agents must be effective. But how do you gauge how effective they really are?

To deliver the best value for the organisation and the highest satisfaction for customers, agents must be effective. But how do you gauge how effective they really are? This goes beyond measuring how long they spend on the phone or on break. Effectiveness boils down to providing a polite, accurate and satisfying response as quickly as possible.

So how can you measure agent effectiveness? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Grade agent work
    Take a random sample of what agents are saying and grade them according to, for example, politeness, sticking to the script, accuracy of information provided, responsiveness to customer needs and desires, etc. In order to grade, supervisors must either monitor activity as it happens or review after the fact.
    • Monitor in real-time
      Facilities exist for both listening in to voice conversations and reading text as it is typed. Voice monitoring has the added benefit of being able to boost effectiveness by coaching the agent as needed. With text, coaching is not so easy. Instant messages could be sent, but the effect is not as instant as with voice.
    • Review after the fact
      Similar to real-time monitoring, but without the possibility of coaching. Text has the added benefit of being able to search for particular words or phrases that indicate good or bad behaviours.

But ultimately, monitoring and review can gauge performance only according to management criteria. The best judges of agent effectiveness are the people they have been speaking to, so shouldn’t we ask them?

  1. Ask the consumer
    Two common ways of getting consumer feedback are the agent sign-off and the post-interaction survey, but both have their drawbacks.
    • Agent sign-off
      “Is there anything else I can help you with?” If the answer is ‘No’, it doesn’t always mean customer satisfaction, or effective agent behaviour. A consumer who has been frustrated in getting an issue resolved may well say ‘No’, just to end the conversation.
    • Post interaction survey
      This may give a fuller picture of satisfaction, but it is hard to design well and is usually only completed by those who feel strongly one way or the other. An unhappy customer would most likely just disappear off the radar.

So, if asking the consumer does not always help, what else could we do?

  1. Monitor what happens next
    Monitoring what a customer does next gives a wider view of customer engagement and a strong indication of agent effectiveness. The customer may buy (positive response), contact again, or complain (negative response). But the monitoring of all possible outcomes needs some joined up thinking with other departments – sales, fulfilment, etc – and must be tracked across all contact points – phone, email, chat, white mail, social media, etc.
    • Buy
      A continuing business relationship is one of the best indicators of effective interaction.
    • Contact again
      Does the customer contact you again in a short space of time? – maybe hours or days, depending on the nature of your business. If an interaction marked as ‘resolved’ results in further contact, then the previous contact was not as effective as first thought. This becomes a further way of monitoring first contact resolution.
    • Complain
      Does the customer post any response to social media? As with the post-interaction survey, this is only likely if the interaction was particularly good or bad.

Agent effectiveness is elusive to measure, but crucial to achieving the goal of customer satisfaction and retention. And tracking it is probably one of the most important things you could do in your business!

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