How to improve call center agent performance: 7 actionable tips

Victoria Beverly

March 6, 2024

Call center agent performance has a direct impact on customers–every conversation between your agents and customers plays a critical role in shaping the overall customer experience. Agents are frontline ambassadors for your company, and their performance can make or break customer loyalty. So it’s worth asking yourself–how can you consistently enhance this performance in a way that benefits both customers and your company alike?

As a call center leader, you may face the daunting challenge of improving agent performance while also dealing with high employee turnover rates, standardizing performance across large teams, and the practically impossible task of monitoring every call’s quality through manual review. These challenges are very real–but the good news is that with strategic coaching and the right tools for coaching insights, you can make significant improvements.

Keep reading for seven tips to improve your call center agent performance, agent retention, and customer experience.

7 Actionable Tips to Improve Call Center Agent Performance

1. Know what ideal agent performance looks like for your organization

Knowing what your organization considers to be the “ideal agent” is a great place to start on the journey to improving overall performance within the call center.  This begins with identifying the metrics you’ll use to measure performance, such as time to resolution, CSAT, and first call resolution. By setting clear expectations out of the gate, you can identify areas where improvements can be made and provide targeted training or coaching.

2. Set clear goals and objectives

Goal setting gives agents clear objectives and something to strive for. Break down your overarching customer service goals and agent KPIs into daily or weekly targets that are easy for agents to understand and achieve. These small sprints and increments will keep agents energized and will make a lasting impact on customer service.

3. Invest the time in ongoing training programs

Agents can become burnt out from trying to meet performance standards without adequate training. Determining which areas to focus on in training is equally important as the time investment. Providing regular training sessions on areas where agents need it–whether that’s product knowledge, soft skills, or profitable behavior–can greatly enhance agent performance long term.

4. Control your controllables

Focus on factors within the agent’s control, such as their ability to avoid powerless-to-help language, or their use of advocacy statements. Empower agents with decision-making authority whenever possible to quickly resolve customer issues. You can identify and analyze behaviors within the agent’s control using conversation intelligence technology, which automatically analyzes 100% of your company’s customer conversations for agent behaviors and other key interaction moments.

According to Don Davey, Tethr’s Sr. Director of Customer Success, “Conversation intelligence lets you measure the things your customers and agents are saying in every interaction. That means you can track the things your agents are doing, at scale, that influence the outcomes you want and coach those behaviors so they become consistent.”

5. Leverage QA automation technology

Use quality assurance (QA) automation software to capture and analyze the QA criteria that matter to your call center. Tethr, for example, offers QA automation that provides insights into agent performance, highlighting areas that require additional training and development.

6. Offer constructive feedback

Consistent and constructive feedback is an invaluable asset for agent improvement. Go beyond critiquing or traditional call scoring and ensure that feedback and coaching sessions are interactive and constructive. Encourage agents to participate in the analysis of their calls and help them actively problem-solve the issues observed through QA analysis.

7. Recognize and reward excellent work

An acknowledgment or reward process for objectives met and great customer service can go a long way in motivating agents and improving agent retention rates. Implement a recognition system to reward exceptional performance based on your predefined KPIs. Public recognition during team meetings can also boost morale and drive others to perform better.

Real-world success story

One Tethr customer realized they never actually had an “ideal agent” in mind before using Tethr for agent coaching insights. Using Tethr’s insights, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) was able to identify the behaviors and metrics of top performers so they could improve non-ideal agent behavior. 

“When we deployed Tethr and started working within the tool, we could really start to map out who our ideal agent is–how do they deploy those positive behaviors (advocacy, expectation setting) within our interaction setting? What are those positive behaviors and how do they map out in that conversation?” said Kristin Galan, Manager of CX and Account Management at BCLC. “And from there, we could take that playbook–and for some of those folks who maybe weren’t our ideal agent or needed more targeted coaching–we could provide them with that coaching.”

Final takeaways

The most important benefit of improving call center agent performance is not only greater customer satisfaction but also greater agent satisfaction and professionalism. Investing time and resources into these key areas of improvement can yield significant returns, manifested both in customer loyalty and an efficient, empowered call center agent workforce.

After digesting these actionable tips, remember:

  • Implementing some or all of these strategies will help you hone in on coaching opportunities for your agents that will improve the customer experience. 
  • Applying some or all of these techniques will streamline your call center’s efficiency and make your job more manageable.
  • Conversation intelligence, specifically QA automation, can help you understand how to improve call center agent performance.

A superior customer experience starts with your agents–equip and empower them to drive your company’s success. Call center productivity flourishes when you support your agents with the right mixture of defined goals and performance expectations, ongoing training, consistent feedback, helpful tools, and rewards or incentives. Conversation intelligence can inform your training for your agents, and contribute towards your agents’ success.

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