Challenges to evolve contact centers’ Performance Management

Contact centers’ Performance Management

The forced interruption of normal activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has put Contact Centers under stress, confirming their importance in the company-customer relationship.
The high degree of digitisation in this sector has facilitated the transition to remote work quickly, but other challenges emerged.
Internal communication processes must be reviewed while also safeguarding people’s personal development; It is more than ever a must to pay attention to the motivation of employees.
As a result, the traditional quality and KPI scoring methodology of the contact center agents must also be reviewed and renewed. This is not only a side-effect of the homeworking situation; objective and transparent evaluations have always been a natural need. Especially in contact centers, this new way of (home)working significantly reduced the number of personal interactions between agents and their team-leaders/quality managers/training managers.
As a consequence, a new way of providing motivation and evaluations through contact centers’ Performance Management – which always go hand-in-hand – is emerging.

The implementation of Performance Management can make an essential contribution to coordinating new ways of working.
The aim is to improve the exchange of information between people transparently, creating the possibility of having a 360° and realistic view on the actual performance versus the  business objectives. People must be actively involved in decision-making and organisational processes, allowing them to have a common goal and corporate culture.
A crucial point is offering employees opportunities for continuous performance improvement through change management sessions, in order to start a process of (self)empowerment. In this way people are more willing to reach objectives, and at the same time to align themselves with the new IT strategies and the new technological tools.
In the world of contact centers, performance management goes along with Quality Assurance.
Performance and quality can be measured with specific KPIs that immediately give an idea of critical issues, allow to identify best practices or to understand where training is needed.

Performance Measurement methods today

One of the traditional methods of monitoring performance is random sampling. With this approach, it is possible to monitor approximately 1% to 1.5% of all calls. The limitation of this methodology is obvious: how does the supervisor decide which calls to analyze? One can rely on luck or other factors such as call duration, but clearly, it will not be possible to get a complete picture of all the activity in your contact center.
The challenge is that currently most Contact centers still use this “old” method only.
Other challenges for Quality Managers, COOs, Contact Center Managers, or Supervisors to consider are the fact that it’s a very monotonous and time consuming activity that often affects the quality of the evaluations.
Maintaining an objective view while performing evaluations is fundamental for a manager, but isn’t always easy. Often, managers find themself having to re-evaluate the same calls after receiving comments or requests from their agents.

On the other hand, it is also important to offer transparency when evaluating agents’ performance. With the above-described evaluation method, agents typically receive only at the end of the month a report and a score based on an evaluation of a very limited set of their calls and, at the same time, the agent, who normally      handles a very large number of calls per month, will never remember the specifics of that set of calls that he’s judged upon. Being in direct contact with customers, agents often find themselves in front of very displeased customers      who want to “ventilate their frustration”.
Customer satisfaction can typically be measured by NPS and CSAT scores which can help to extract useful information about trends in customer experiences. Although it is important to keep in mind that these are subjective evaluations. An agent who provided excellent service, but who still couldn’t manage to solve the customers’ problems due to other external reasons may nevertheless receive a negative rating.
E.G.: An unexpected heavy storm causes a peak load of calls in the contact center, and the number of agents is not sufficient to manage all calls promptly.
This example shows that the traditional assessment method cannot foster personal growth and does not motivate people to do better, undermining the agent motivation     .

Today it is essential to implement a performance measurement method that looks at the agent’s experience in order to guarantee individual growth. This is possible with an objective and transparent evaluation methodology with reports and past calls that can be consulted immediately.
Agents must always be able to benchmark how they are performing against company KPIs and team KPIs, so that they can immediately take corrective action.
To ensure the agents’ continuous improvement, it is essential to work on individual coaching and training.
This will also ensure the development of soft skills such as empathy and emotional intelligence, skills that are closely linked to a good customer experience and are increasingly required.

One last aspect not to be overlooked is related to compliance management. Compliance must be guaranteed as there is more and more attention from national and international governmental entities. Not having the ability to monitor 100% of all calls reduces the chances to spot critical cases which could be a big risk for companies in terms of non-compliance and hence can lead to high fines and loss of corporate reputation.

Ingredients for measuring the performance in a contact center

The biggest challenge is to use a more holistic view in performance measurement. That requires to no longer focus only on the customer experience, but also taking into consideration the experience of everyone involve. This can be done by using and identifying quantitative and qualitative KPIs, to recognize successful and critical calls. As a result, you will have a clear picture of  your agents’ productivity, with a homogeneous and objective evaluation system that can highlight skill gaps and reward those who do well.
By performing this type of monitoring, it will be possible to reduce call handling times, improve efficiency and ensure a stimulating environment for employees, thus reducing agent turnover.

The downside is to control the phenomenon of big data. It is necessary to have systems that allow data aggregation and visualization to analyze agents, topics, trends, KPIs, and quality metrics and recognize trends, comparisons, and patterns. Of course, legal restrictions and labor union agreements also need to be considered when visualizing and comparing data.
By doing this, it will be possible to respond in a very short time to complex problems, or even in real time. With real-time quality monitoring, you can reach a level of self-awareness and have a real competitive advantage that differentiates you from your competitors.


In summary, it is vital to use data to truly understand the experience and behaviour of stakeholders. This will enable the evolution of Contact centers’ Performance Management.
To do this, AI and Machine Learning come to help, to extract insights from hidden correlations and patterns. Unfortunately, technology alone is not enough. We need to stop looking at performance management solely as a means of evaluating the work of others. We need to start looking at it as a process that lets you know where you are with respect to your business goals and also as a compass to guide your next actions.

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Vittorio Fiocco, Pre Sales and Business Development Consultant –

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