Agent performance management for the help desk

Call center expert Lori Bocklund answers a reader question about the best ways to score help desk agents and which metrics to use for a fair assessment. She suggests service levels, quality and customer satisfaction to start, with varying metrics depending on the agents' tasks.

Our company is trying to develop a scorecard to measure our help desk agents' performance. Can you suggest some metrics? Our challenge is to develop metrics that will address the diversity of help desk work. For example, some agents work a ticket queue and have minimal customer contact, while others have high customer contact. How can we develop metrics that will be fair to all agents?

Metrics strategy and scorecards are very important for agent performance management while operating a help desk. Ideally, you will align the metrics in your scorecard with your business goals (i.e., they will differ if you are focused on low cost vs. driving customer service excellence), and create a balanced view across key areas such as productivity/efficiency, quality, customer experience, financial, and employee experience. You will also need to make sure that the agents' scorecard is aligned with the overall organizational metrics, and that they are held accountable only for the things they can control. With the different roles in your center, I would suggest you develop a standard set of metrics that apply to all, and adjust for variations in the specific work tasks (e.g., inbound vs. outbound, service level vs. response time).

Of course which metrics you can readily define and gather depend to a degree on the technology you put in place, the processes you have, and the support staff and time you have. I will give you a "best practices" view.

The types of metrics for agent performance management on your scorecard might include:

  • Service level -- X% of calls answered in Y seconds (noting that this is a team/queue metric, not an individual metric, but that they play a role in helping to achieve this most important metric)
  • Adherence -- make sure agents are working when they're supposed to be working
  • Quality -- monitor X (five-10) calls per month per agent and score on a quality scorecard (perhaps showing team and individual scores)
  • Customer satisfaction -- survey your customers somehow, via phone, email, mail cards (perhaps showing team and individual scores)
  • First call resolution rate (perhaps showing team and individual scores)

Your overall metrics should include employee satisfaction and a cost indicator, but those need not be on the agent scorecard.

To adjust for the folks that are not on the phone as much, I would use the same metrics but adjust them to the nature of the work. For example, service level can be replaced with response time. Quality may need to include some different characteristics if they are writing responses in email, or just executing tasks and closing tickets.

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