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How To Evaluate a Call Center Agent’s Performance

by Anastasia Micic | Published On April 29, 2024

From first contact resolution to net promoter score, there are a variety of ways to measure your agents' performance.

The success of your contact center depends on the performance of your contact center agents. Your agents are responsible for engaging and converting customers, elevating your company’s reputation, and reducing customer churn.  

Just like with any essential resource in your organization, monitoring the performance and progress of your contact center agents is how you ensure you’re getting the best return on your investment (ROI). The trouble is that while many companies agree that tracking metrics related to employee performance is important, many struggle to consistently access and use the right data.  

Optimizing your agents’ performance starts with determining which KPIs are most relevant to your business and its goals. After selecting which KPIs to measure, you’ll then need to decide how you’re going to gather and analyze the correct insights. 

Here’s your guide to effectively evaluating call center agent performance, with insights into the metrics you’ll need to measure. 

Key Metrics for Measuring Agent Performance 

Deciding which metrics to monitor when tracking team performance can be complex. Leading reporting and analytical tools built into contact center technologies can give you a variety of metrics to choose from, but not all of them will be relevant to your business goals.   

Here are some of the most valuable metrics you can monitor and why they’re crucial to optimizing your contact center.  

Average Handle Time (AHT) 

Average Handle Time (AHT) is the duration of an entire customer interaction, from the moment the call is initiated by a customer to its conclusion. This calculation considers hold times, number of transfers during an interaction, and work conducted after a call, such as taking notes, for a comprehensive view of the call’s lifecycle.  

The formula for calculating AHT is (Total talk time + total hold time + post-call work) / number of calls.  

Notably, while many companies strive for shorter average handling times, longer interactions aren’t always a bad thing. If your average handling times are long, but your first-contact resolution rates, and customer satisfaction rates are excellent, this indicates that your employees may just be spending more time with customers to ensure they resolve their issue effectively. 

However, if your AHTs are too long, it could also be a sign that your employees need additional training to ensure they can address customers’ concerns faster and more efficiently.  

First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR) 

The First Contact Resolution rate is the metric you monitor to determine how effective your agents are at solving a customer’s problem the first time they get in touch. It’s calculated with the following formula: Total issues resolved on first contact / total number of first contacts.  

The higher your FCR rate, the more likely it is that your agents are effective at understanding caller needs, troubleshooting issues, and delivering satisfactory resolutions. If your FCR rates drop, this could be a sign that you’re routing customers to the wrong agents, or that your employees aren’t adequately trained to resolve complex problems.  

Average Speed of Answer (ASA) 

Formula: Total wait time of all calls answered / total number of answered calls. 

With Average Speed of Answer, contact centers look at how quickly employees respond to a call from a customer. This metric assesses call center responsiveness, as well as how effectively your IVR and ACD technologies are routing customers to the correct agent.  

In general, the faster your employees answer calls, the greater your customer satisfaction rates will be. No one likes waiting on hold.  

If your ASA is too slow, this might be a sign that you have an insufficient number of staff members in your contact center, or that your employees aren’t quick enough at dealing with calls.  

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) 

Arguably one of the most important metrics in any contact center, CSAT provides insight into the average level of satisfaction a customer experiences when interacting with your team. It’s critical to your quality assurance strategy and retaining customers. 

Companies calculate CSAT scores through surveys, asking their customers to rate how “satisfied” they were with an interaction on a scale, usually from 1(very unsatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied). They then divide the number of satisfied customers by the total number of respondents.  

Tracking CSAT offers an invaluable view of customer satisfaction trends. It can help you determine whether service strategies are working for your company and show you how difficult or easy it will be to retain and convert customers.  

Customer Effort Score (CES) 

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a slightly newer metric in the contact center space, but one you should consider carefully, particularly when providing agents with training resources.  

The lower your CES score, the less work your customers need to do to resolve an issue or complete a task with your service team. A high customer effort score indicates that the process of dealing with your customer service team is too complex, frustrating, or difficult for your audience. 

Usually, companies calculate customer effort score using scales which ask customers to “rate” the simplicity of their interaction with a number from 1 to 10.  If your CES scores are high, this could indicate you need to take a closer look at the customer’s journey and assess how you can remove common friction points, like a complex IVR system.  

Net Promoter Score (NPS) 

Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is another customer satisfaction-oriented metric measured with the use of surveys. It measures how likely customers are to recommend your company to a friend or colleague. The higher your company’s NPS score, the more likely you are to benefit from loyal, satisfied customers who advocate for your brand. 

Calculating NPS score involves sending customers a survey and asking them to rate their likelihood of recommending your company on a scale from one to ten. You then subtract the number of “detractors” (people who give you a rating of 0 to 6) from your number of promoters (people who give you a score of 9 or 10).  

Agent Utilization Rate 

As your contact center evolves and scales, it’s crucial to ensure you’re getting the full value out of your resources. Agent Utilization Rate measures how employees are using their time, by looking at the total time your employees spend handling calls, divided by their total “logged in” time. 

Handled call time can include talk time, hold time, and after-call work. The higher your utilization rates, the more efficient and productive your contact center staff is. 

If your utilization rate is low, this could indicate that employee productivity is suffering (particularly if you have high call volumes). However, it could also mean that you have more agents working each day than you need.  

Schedule Adherence 

Schedule adherence is a metric that can provide a useful insight into agent productivity. It looks at how often employees adhere to the schedules that have been set for them by your organization.  

Usually, you’ll calculate schedule adherence by dividing the number of minutes an employee works in a shift (completing specific tasks) by the number of minutes they were scheduled to work. If adherence rates are low, this could indicate high levels of absenteeism, or an inability for agents to manage their schedules properly.   

It could also be a sign that you need to change how you use your resources and update your scheduling and staffing strategies. 

Software for Tracking KPIs 

Monitoring and evaluating call center agent performance requires you to invest in the right technology. You need to be able to visualize and analyze metrics quickly and effectively, drawing data from a range of environments.  

There are various tools that can help with contact center agent evaluation, such as: 

  • Real-time analytics and reporting software: Tools for real-time performance monitoring leverage data from throughout your contact center to ensure you can proactively evaluate crucial metrics. They can instantly provide insights into AHTs, customer satisfaction scores, and more, and even alert supervisors when performance levels drop.  

  • CRM software: Customer relationship management software doesn’t just track customer interactions and store data. These tools can also provide quick insight into customer satisfaction rates, sentiment, and responses to survey requests. Aligning your CRM software with your contact center can help agents and supervisors keep track of net promoter scores, customer effort scores, and more. 

  • Workforce management software: Workforce management or WFM software gives you valuable insights into schedule adherence, agent utilization, contact center occupancy and more. Some intuitive tools can even optimize resource utilization, by recommending schedules and staffing arrangements based on real-time and historic data. 

  • Quality monitoring tools: Quality monitoring tools offer access to recording, evaluation, and analytical resources for tracking agent performance. They can allow supervisors to listen to and evaluate calls in real time without alerting a customer or agent. They can also ensure that you’re adhering to compliance and security regulations. 

  • Speech analytics tools: AI-powered speech analytics software can draw data from customer interactions. They can help companies identify customer intent and sentiment and provide agents with real-time insights into how to improve the outcomes of a conversation. 

Tips and Best Practices for Improving Agent Performance 

Improving and optimizing agent performance in any contact center requires a consistent, multi-faceted approach from business leaders. As the world evolves, organizations need to ensure they’re constantly assessing the performance of their staff members and looking for new ways to improve.  

Here are some quick tips and best practices to help you optimize your agents’ performance. 

Set Clear Expectations 

Clear expectations are crucial to getting the most out of your contact center agents. Your agents need to be aware of how their performance will be monitored, how they can optimize each touchpoint in the customer journey, and which goals they should be working towards. 

Companies can even enhance employee motivation and engagement by using agent dashboards that allow them to track critical metrics in real time. This can help every agent monitor their own performance and identify crucial areas for improvement. 

Leverage the Right Technology 

As mentioned above, technology is crucial for ensuring you can access the right insights into employee performance, and customer experience metrics. Your CRM system will help you track customer relationships, sentiment, and feedback scores.  

Your call analytics tools will help you monitor employee performance and results in real time, and even give you insights into opportunities for growth. Even historical reporting tools can help you monitor the progress of your team members over time.  

Provide Coaching and Feedback 

Agents need more than just an insight into their performance metrics to access their full potential. They also need support and guidance. Providing employees with actionable feedback about where they can improve and what they can do to achieve better outcomes is essential.  

Make sure you regularly evaluate each employee, and provide them with customized coaching, training, and mentorship throughout their career with your company. Remember, coaching and all other forms of training should be implemented consistently.  

Don’t just offer development resources to employees when you first onboard them onto your team; ensure they constantly have new ways to improve their skills with continuous coaching, training sessions, and access to online courses. 

Recognize and Reward Top Performers 

Finally, remember that recognition and rewards are essential to improving employee engagement and satisfaction. Praising employees when they achieve specific goals or accomplish something substantial for your business will help to instill their confidence.  

It also increases your chances of retaining your top talent and helps to show other employees which behaviors your company prioritizes so they know where to focus their attention in the future. 

Optimize Your Contact Center Agent’s Performance 

Knowing how to effectively monitor and analyze the performance of your contact center agents is the first step to significantly improving their performance. Once you have a clear view of your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, you can deliver the training and guidance they need to excel in their roles.  

Learn more about how you can improve your contact center agent’s performance, with our comprehensive guide to agent training.  

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