Pay-for-performance for call center agents

Donna Fluss explains to a reader how a pay-for-performance system in the call center encourages strong agent performance.

Currently we use a pay-for-performance program at my company. We review our staff every month, and 90% of their review is based on call quality. Each call center agent is given a level (1, 2 or 3) that has a rate of pay attached to it. They must maintain that level for three months to receive the pay attached to that level. For the reps, that could mean an increase or a decrease if their performance doesn't meet the accountabilities for that level.

Do you think the monthly reviews and the three-month level program is fair? We have been using this system for...

several years. I manage the customer service area of my company and think we need to change the time frame. What do you think? Should we continue to monitor and review every month, but change to every six months for a pay increase or decrease?

Pay-for-performance is a call center best practice and a very strong motivator for improving and maintaining high performance levels. To maximize effectiveness, the reward (pay increases), or the consequence (pay decreases) should occur as close to call center agent performance results as possible. For this reason, three months seems to be an appropriate and fair time frame.

Monthly monitoring and coaching sessions are critical for an agent's success and a great way for supervisors to have one-on-one, personalized contact with call center agents. Agents really appreciate receiving individual attention to learn about what they are doing well and the areas where they can improve. Coaching also demonstrates that both the supervisor and the company are deeply committed to the agent's success. Monthly coaching sessions, combined with pay or compensation that is tied directly to performance, communicates to call center agents that their contributions are integral to the call center and the company.

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