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5 ways to improve call center agent performance

Side-by-side evaluations, reinforcement, training resources and coaching can help wayward contact center agents improve performance and catch up to the pack.

As a quality assurance analyst, how can I help improve the performance of contact center agents who consistently...

fail their daily evaluation metrics?

Improving call center agent performance when an agent consistently fails to meet the established quality criteria is one of the biggest challenges for QA analysts and call center managers. The following five steps will help you assist agents in meeting contact center performance goals, enhance overall customer satisfaction and meet customer experience goals:

1. Diagnose underlying performance issues

Analyze the data gathered from an agent's evaluation in QA forms to determine where performance opportunities exist and to identify any trends. Determine if the agent consistently has low or failing scores in particular metrics or from monitoring data for a particular call type. Are there multiple call center agent performance issues, i.e., deficiencies in communication skills or problems adhering to processes, accessing customer data or processing transactions?

You can also gain valuable insights by conducting a side-by-side session with the agent to view firsthand where and when challenges arise or if work habits contribute to their performance issues. Based on the results of the trend analysis and/or observations from the side-by-side sessions, identify the underlying causes of performance problems.

2. Create an action plan

Photo of call center manager assisting an agent
Side-by-side sessions can be key to improving agent performance.

Once you know where the call center agent performance needs improvement, create an action plan to address the underlying issues. Begin by discussing your findings with the agent's supervisor. Work with the supervisor to identify all available resources to support the agent's skill development. This may include enrolling the agent in additional training or up-training sessions, providing reference materials or job aids, offering additional system or communication skills training, or regularly assigning time for the agent to sit with an overperforming colleague to learn the proper way to handle interactions with customers.

3. Communicate with the agent

Depending on the structure of your organization, either the QA manager or the call center manager should discuss the performance issues with the agent and the monitoring process. Begin by making sure that the agent understands the quality evaluation metrics and how calls are scored. Be sure that your assessment is constructive and includes recognition of the agent's strengths, as well as performance opportunities. Review the action plan, and emphasize that its intent is to provide help and support.

Conduct routine evaluations of the agent's calls, and provide timely feedback.

4. Provide consistent feedback and reinforcement

The most effective call center agent performance improvement programs provide continuous and encouraging feedback to motivate call center agents. When an agent is struggling to perform, it's a good idea to offer the agent some extra attention. Conduct routine evaluations of the agent's calls, and provide timely feedback. When needed, provide additional targeted coaching that addresses the agent's specific needs, and reinforce what they are doing right.

Call center agent skills range from friendly and organized to being calm under pressure.
A successful call center agent communicates effectively and calmly, providing a positive customer experience.

5. Monitor and track improvements

Monitor the agent's performance. Track and reward call center agent progress and improvement. Motivate the agent by recognizing and praising incremental improvements, and continue to provide coaching and support for performance opportunities that will enhance your organization's customer service, improve overall contact center performance and, by extension, build a better customer experience.

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