Contact Center Productivity Measurements and Standards

When measuring contact center productivity, the goal is to have a vital few metrics that help you see the big picture without swamping you with unnecessary detail.

Keep in mind that the contact center industry is notorious for being data dependent and for micro managing. The purpose of performance indicators is to tell the coach when he has to focus on more detail.

If the indicators tell a coach that someone is struggling with skill or knowledge, then the coach can dig further to determine the specifics. But if the key indicators tell the coach that the person has mastered the skills and knowledge required, then the coach does not have to look at any of the detailed data.

One or two productivity measurements keep people focused while reducing data overload and report generation requirements.

When it comes to determining the standard for productivity, each contact center has to define its current definition of excellence (your goal) and have a definite methodology to get there (performance standards and shaping). Here’s one way of thinking:

Using your new productivity metric, baseline the current performance of those agents considered to have been in the job long enough to be comfortable performing the required tasks. From this baseline determine the goal.

What’s the best productivity for the current skill and knowledge level of our agents combined with the current efficiency of our processes and technology? If there is a performance gap between the baseline and goal, apply a principle called “shaping.” This means you take successive approximations toward the goal.

Research has indicated that high achievers set moderate goals, that asking for quantum leaps only discourages people, and that achievements that are celebrated are records waiting to be broken. So set an interim performance standard that will “stair step” you to your goal.

Set the standard high enough that people have to work to get there, yet low enough that it is attainable. When you reach the performance standard, celebrate—and then raise the bar.

Kathryn E. Jackson, Ph.D, is president of Ocean City, NJ-based contact center consultancy Response Design Corp.

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