What Has the Most Impact on CSRs' Performance?
Note to readers: I'll be away on vacation for a couple of weeks, so in my place I've requested the help of two industry veterans — Tom Stanfill, co-founder and CEO of Aslan Training & Development, who fills in this week, and Jerry Bernhart, president of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, who will fill in next week.
In the last 20 years, I've primarily focused on improving one area of multichannel retail: What's the key to improving a customer service rep's (CSR) performance in the call center?
My experience has led me to one simple conclusion: It's not about technology, or focusing on the right metrics or even training. If you want to improve a CSR's performance, it's all in the coaching.
Most organizations confuse coaching with performance evaluations. I’m a big believer in developing a scorecard to ensure that each CSR knows where he or she stands. I've found, however, that CSRs knowing “their scores” has minimal impact on affecting change. The sports world understands this, but the typical call-center world is bogged down in metrics.
In sports, a large majority of an athlete’s time is spent under the guidance of a coach developing his or her skills — and very little time reviewing performance. Most contact centers have the player-coach meeting. “Suzie, your percentages are down, and you’re not upselling XYZ. Now go do better, and I'll see you in two weeks.” That’s not coaching. Coaching is about improving the future. Way too many managers just report on the past.
So what’s the answer? Conceptually, everyone believes in coaching, but many of us don’t have the time. How do you free up the time to coach? The first step is to learn to think more strategically about ranking your CSRs.
Managing Your Time Via the Quadrant Approach
The first coaching step is to realize that you don’t have enough time to equally invest in developing all of your CSRs to the level of performance required. Instead of ranking CSRs A, B and C just on performance, divide the team into four quadrants based not only on performance, but also on the desire to change. Here's an example of how you can assess and rank each team member: