Efficiency is More Than a Metric. It Tells a Story About Your Agents.
Happier agents make happier customers. And happy agents are more likely to stay in their jobs. So, how does agent efficiency play a part in agent well-being and happiness? Efficiency is one of the positive outcomes that happy agents produce. Agents who are empowered and thrilled to help customers are more likely to be efficient problem solvers. They’ll make snappy decisions because they’re more confident and don’t need to seek out a manager to approve every little thing. And since you can easily measure agent efficiency, it’s a metric that helps you paint a piece of your agent’s well-being picture. It’s crucial to remember, though, that these metrics don’t paint the whole picture. They’re simply one piece of a mural. So, we’re leading you on a Bob-Ross-style tutorial to teach you how to paint the full picture of your agent’s well-being.
Can agents be both happier and more efficient?
Absolutely. But, to reach peak happiness and efficiency, managers have to connect with agents as human beings. As thinking, feeling humans, agents need to be empowered. People aren’t programmed to churn out work instantly like our AI counterparts. Tons of other factors contribute to our performance, and there are real limitations to how much work you can squeeze out of a single individual.
Take steps to help your agents be happy and efficient.
Be a better coach. Empower your agents to be humans and turn the switch in their brains off for a bit. That’s when you’ll help them (and your contact center) achieve peak happiness and efficiency.
Put your agent’s humanity first. There’s a reason the human connection means so much in agent-customer interactions – because people can connect on deeper levels and personalize customer experiences. So, to foster that positive, human connection with your customers, you have to put your agents’ humanity first. If agents aren’t treated with humanity and respect, your customers won’t be either.
Think about agent efficiency in terms of an agent’s holistic well-being. If an agent is incredibly productive, are they at risk for burnout? Or are they truly satisfied in their role? How can we protect against burnout? Or, if an agent’s productivity is low, what about their experience at work (or NOT at work) is contributing to the problem? Take off your blinders and dig into your risks. If you’re measuring output and calling it good enough for efficiency, you’re missing more than half of the story and you’re risking losing your most talented agents. Think differently about agent efficiency to keep talented agents motivated and dedicated to your customers’ success.
There’s more to efficiency than metrics.
The experience behind the metrics drives the numbers. Numbers are an outcome. Look at the input and what’s happening in your agent’s world to create their outcomes. Keep a pulse on their experience and continue to improve it, then your metrics will improve, too.
Say there’s an agent, Sammy. She started working in a contact center six months ago, and she’s hit her KPIs every month since. Her manager doesn’t even feel like he needs to check in much with Sammy—she’s doing fine. So instead, he gives more attention to other agents.
So, what’s Sammy’s story?
Sure, it could be that she’s a rockstar and has no problem consistently performing. Or maybe it was easy, too easy, really, to hit the numbers. In that case, efficiency metrics mean little to Sammy because she doesn’t feel like she’s reaching her full potential. And that lack of challenge is uninspiring. Then there’s the chance that maybe Sammy had to struggle all day, for weeks, only to feel like she’s barely keeping her head above water.
There are many possible stories that could explain Sammy’s performance. And your efficiency metrics alone simply can’t point you to the right one. Ultimately, it’s the agent experience that tells us the most about an agent’s efficiency and performance metrics. And it’s that experience, too, that should inform how you coach each agent.
A few months after Sammy’s manager stops frequent touch-base meetings with Sammy, she stops hitting her numbers. What gives?
If her manager knew what Sammy was experiencing in the contact center on a daily basis, he could’ve seen that she was putting forth a 110 percent effort for weeks, and he’d realize working that way isn’t sustainable. She was primed to hit a natural human barrier and burn out. She was keeping up, but now she feels buried.
This happens all the time. And if the manager saw she was overstretching herself, he’d realize that Sammy wasn’t fine. He’d have known she needs more resources and training to make her job easier.
At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the possibility that Sammy’s lack of challenge and inspiration on the job caused her to become disengaged. Maybe she’s been hanging on, just biding her time until she finds something better. She’s been doing the minimum, and now, she’s barely even inspired to keep that up.
Here are some tips to help you look beyond the metrics.
Experiences like Sammy’s are preventable when you improve communication and apply the New Golden Rule: Treat your agents the way you want them to treat your customers.
1. Be human—it’s not “just business.”
It’s true that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. If you want your agents to stick around, you have to connect with them on a human level.
When agents don’t have a strong bond with their manager, it’s a lot easier for them to leave the company. If an agent’s manager only seems interested in talking about the numbers, it sets the tone that the agent isn’t important to the company and “it’s just business.” Keep people (especially your agents) at the heart of your contact center, and you’ll create real growth and sustainability.
2. Listen and learn.
Don’t make assumptions. Instead, listen to agents, and learn about them. The more you understand your agents as individuals — what motivates them, how they prefer to work, what kind of training they need — the better you can communicate with and coach them.
Just as you want agents to listen to customers without offering solutions or opinions until they know the full story, you have to do the same when it comes to coaching them.
3. Be present and available for your agents.
Let your agents know that you’re around to help them. Welcome questions and drop-ins at your desk, so agents know you’re a constant resource for them. Formal coaching and meetings are important too, but it’s the daily touch-points between coaching sessions where you can form those unique human connections.
Sammy’s story spells out why it’s so important to keep a pulse on your agents’ entire experience. Then, your agents know their metrics aren’t as important as their well-being. When agents know you care about them on a human level, they’ll clue you in on the full story rather than letting metrics paint a picture that’s not complete. And with a full picture painted, you can prevent small issues from escalating into reasons your agents leave. Then all you need are a few happy little trees.
See how you can coach more frequently to help your agents reach peak happiness and efficiency. Check out our recipe for coaching agents in 30 minutes per day!