INVESTIGATING THE CURRENT STATE OF PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IN THE CONTACT CENTRE

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1 INVESTIGATING THE CURRENT STATE OF PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IN THE CONTACT CENTRE A mini whitepaper by Nexidia, based on findings from the 2013 Performance and Quality Management Survey

2 An Industry with a bright future (that needs seizing) Given the ongoing squeeze on budgets and rising expectations around service quality, balancing the traditional twin aims of reducing costs and improving customer experience, has never been more challenging for contact centre leaders. The core role of the contact centre is also under review. Social customer service and the issues this brings in terms of brand visibility has encouraged organisations to review the impact and future role that contact centres play in shaping customer decisions around advocacy and loyalty. Even if that form of service has yet to hit some organisations, the same message about the impact of customer service on brand credibility is spreading. Most organisations now recognise that they are racing to stay relevant in response to a whole new generation of empowered customer behaviours. The world at large and the world of customer service are changing fast. However, even though the expectations of both internal and external stakeholders have considerably evolved since the contact centre industry began, some of its core working practices have not managed to keep pace. The industry is often conservative and maybe too slow to adopt new ideas. This is understandable given the little discretionary time most managers have to get away from every day urgencies and look out at the horizon. However, contact centre managers who are at the coalface of their businesses, need an approach to performance management that does a better job at spotting and responding to all emerging issues and opportunities. The standards required to meet even basic customer expectations rises daily. Setting your sights on being better than the rest requires a whole lot more. This is why the Performance and Quality (P&Q) Campaign was launched. Its aim is to modernise a core industry competency in the shortest possible time. The overall vision is to get everyone in the UK contact centre industry to collectively invent the next generation of operational practice in performance and quality management, and then use that to work in new, more effective ways. This whitepaper delves into the P&Q campaign to draw out some of the early insights that have been generated from the ongoing survey that campaign members have contributed to. It provides the reader with a simple benchmark and indication of what most of their peers consider to be the priorities for the next generation approach to performance and quality, offering a fascinating insight into both what is, and is not working around performance and quality management. The blueprint of what is now needed can be seen and acted upon. As a result the industry has much to look forward to, providing it continues to evolve and increase its overall value. The most common benefits seen in the current approach to performance management: 42% of companies use performance management to capture performance insights. 53% of people see performance management as an effective trigger for coaching that makes a real difference. 36% of companies see performance management as a way of meeting and improving their KPI s. 1

3 Which sector best describes your organisation s activity? FIGURE 1: Which sector best describes your organisation s activity? So far 174 organisations have responded. They represent a cross section of the contact centre industry in terms of sectors and operational size. 45% 16% 11% 10% 16% of respondents originate from the financial services sector, followed by the insurance sector with 11% and local authorities at 10%, and the remaining 45% derive from other industry sectors. In total, nearly 1 in 5 companies that took part in the survey employed over 1000 fulltime customer service staff. 9.5% 9.5% Financial services Insurance Local Authority Outsourcing Retail Other 23% 26% 11% of companies have employees of companies have employees of companies have over 1000 employees 2

4 Which of the following channels do you 1. Offer to customers, 2. Score advisors performance through an evaluation process? Respondents were also questioned about their multi-channel use (see Figure 2). The overall results align with other industry research, confirming the voice channel as the most dominant method of communication alongside growing demand in other channels. One of the most interesting insights has to be the rapid growth in social channels for customer service, beating even web chat into fourth place, despite web chat becoming more popular itself in recent years. Just under 40% of respondents are using Twitter and Facebook for customer service (see Figure 2), and from this 40% only a quarter are currently evaluating the quality of social interactions. This is much lower than any other channel and ought to be a wake up call for Customer Service leaders, given the inherent PR issues in social customer service. The reason why the culture 74% of people say compliance is a part of their performance and quality management programme and practice of quality monitoring has not yet transferred to this channel, could be down to the fact that many of these teams are still operated by Marketing. Another key characteristic of the survey is that three quarters of respondents (74%), have been conditioned in their approach to quality by externally mandated compliance regulation. This could be one of the reasons why there is such a deeply embedded tick box culture, with a predominant focus on internal procedures. Although responses show that people make the most of this, the restrictions of this approach are also clearly seen throughout the survey findings. FIGURE 2: Which of the following channels do you 1. Offer to customers 2. Score advisors performance through an evaluation process? Phone 99% 92% 85% 52% Twitter / Facebook 38% 9% Offered Chat Evaluated 27% 22% 3

5 What do you think about the current performance and quality management process? To gain an early overview of how respondents viewed their current generation performance and quality management, four positive and four negative statements were offered. The results show which ones resonated most strongly. Over half of respondents felt that current practice triggered effective coaching. 40% said it worked as a way to capture performance insights (see Figure 3), and roughly the same number agreed that it was the main way in which they drove KPI improvement. FIGURE 3: What do you think about the current performance and quality management process? effective for better coaching effective for capturing performance insights helps improve our KPIs empowers self-management 54% 42% 37% 22% 54% of contact centre leaders see the current performance management process as an effective means of coaching. 4

6 What are the problems with your current performance management and quality monitoring process? The next question addressed any issues that respondents had with their current performance management and quality monitoring process. Only one in five saw current practice as an empowering form of self management. This is a significant point when it is compared to the findings later in the survey where empowerment and self management are clearly desired by almost everyone as the way forward. So in summary, this snapshot shows that current ways do deliver but at a cost. As is generally now recognised, customer and employee engagement are inter-linked. So if for no other reason, performance and quality management practices need to encourage greater engagement. What about the negative statements? How strongly did respondents agree with those? Just over a third agreed that the way things worked right now was for them both, a time consuming process that under delivers on value, and a way of evaluating performance that is often not trusted (see Figure 4). In other words, manual sampling to find relevant evidence to evaluate and then use for coaching takes too long and is not worth the effort. We also know from verbatim comments shown later on in this whitepaper that unrepresentative sampling is unpopular as a way of judging individual performance, and also provides insufficient behavioural insights for effective coaching. One in five summarised their feeling about their current approach by agreeing that it is a broken process that does not support our service strategy. Finally 11% agreed that it was an expensive way to satisfy external regulatory demands. FIGURE 4: What are the problems with your current performance management and quality monitoring process? 19% Time consuming and under delivers Expensive way of satisfying external regulation 36% Not trusted 37% 11% Does not support our service strategy Only 1 in 5 contact centre leaders consider the current performance management process to be an empowering form of self-management. 5

7 What are your main frustrations with the current performance & quality programme? This overview was also followed up with an open ended question that asked respondents to imagine the frustrations that their contact centres have regarding the current performance and quality approach. These comments support the analysis provided and reflect a number of themes. ACCURACY Isn t an accurate reflection of the value they bring to the role It picks up on the small mistakes they make and often doesn t recognise the good things they do Each call is different and should be marked on the contents not from a tick box exercise FAIRNESS Fairness of scores from a small sample size One call is not representative of agent performance Advisors don t buy in to feedback. Lack of sufficient real examples FOCUS It s based on what the business defines as quality rather than what the customer defines as quality KPIs and bonus targets is not a true reflection of the demands on the job Marketing pushing for a Number, and not a quality driven interaction APPROACH Process quality measured by individuals that have no working knowledge of the area they are grading Advisors optimising conversations to the scorecard and not to individual customer needs Regimented criteria on the QA scorecard leads to rote customer experiences Coach and develop me; don t just assess me EFFORT Unable to track on performance, reliant on management feedback Agents are thirsty for feedback and thrive off it, but we cannot provide it quick enough Advisors are subjected to generic workshops and online courses, rather than bespoke ad-hoc training ACTIONABLE Supervisors provide little actionable in-sight Not enough data collected is surveyed - 1 call a week 6

8 Key take aways The survey findings suggest that the current approach to performance and quality is still basically sound. However, the lack of automated search to find and track key performance and quality insights results in a low value process regarding effort and impact. Part Two of this whitepaper, What does the next generation of performance management look like?, moves onto reviewing the ideas that respondents have for the way they want to develop their approach in the future. About Nexidia Nexidia works with some of the world s largest contact centres to develop and deliver comprehensive video and audio search platforms. Innovation is at the heart of the systems that Nexidia develops, which are completely owned by the company. Being able to capture multi-channel interactions, analyse the data and then develop business strategies to improve the performance of every aspect of a contact centre is at the heart of everything Nexidia do. The report The report consists of 174 responses from the P&Q campaign from October 2012 to March Participants included executives from contact centres and leaders who ran contact centres, with the majority of respondents working for contact centres employing more than 100 staff. 7

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