Call Centre Agent Performance Evaluation Solutions

The agent: your MVA

EDITORIAL: - December 2001

John Carver

Anyone who attended the 13th annual ICCM Conference and Exposition held in Chicago had to be impressed with the support available to help contact centers provide, monitor and manage the quest to provide quality service to their customers. One could not help but appreciate all that technology brings to this effort. I took in several demonstrations and read many more brochures from suppliers. I was in awe at how far we, as an industry and as a profession, have come in the past 10 years.

But of everything I saw and heard nothing pleased me more than the panel discussion "Hot Buttons."
Six industry experts and a moderator took on all questions from the floor. No topic was off limits. It wasn't long into the session that I came to realize that these people not only knew their stuff from the CC Manager's perspective, but also recognized that, even with all the advancements and enhancements in technology, the agent is the call center's MVA, most valuable asset. I recall one of the panelists actually speaking so of the agents, and many of their answers and comments contained this underlying theme. And, they were right.

The agents are the interface between the technology and the customer. When they do a great job in serving the client, regardless of what's going on in the background, your company wins. The customer really doesn't care what technology is there to support your agent. A super agent can always leave your customer feeling important, even when support systems are down. Conversely, if they fail if they allow a bad day to come through in the words they choose, or in their tone of voice, there is a serious risk of loss of business. This being the case, it boggles my mind that there are still some people who talk as though the agents are only a necessity until they are able to acquire the latest piece of self-serve software on the market. In my previous life as the manager of the Bank of Montreal MasterCard Call Centre we let our agents know they were the primary reason for our success. We created a "Priceless" poster for our call center to make sure no one ever forgot the importance of the agent.

*PenSet, $72
*Headset, $150
*Computer, $3,999
*Employees Committed to World Class Service, "Priceless".

If you have incompetent and disinterested agents, regardless of the technology you have poor, good or great you will end up with poor to good service. (Good is possible only if you have a great IVR and self serve internet service.) While again, regardless of the technology you have poor, good or great committed and caring agents will ensure good to great service and return on investment.

We've come through an incredible decade. The advancements in technology have been nothing short of miraculous. As we grew even our language changed. Call centers became contact centers. "Customer service" is now described as "Customer Relationship Management." Most of us recognize the benefits of providing great service, and just how critical the contact center is to the organization, something that couldn't be expressed with certainty only 10 years ago. And we're willing to spend huge sums of money to demonstrate our commitment. But, in my experience, not all of us yet recognize that the agent is still the most important piece of the puzzle. If you remember only one thing from this article, let it be this:

Your agent is your MVA. Given that you have a limit in what you can spend, don't forget to invest in your agents. That investment will pay for itself many times over.

Agree or disagree, when you take care of your agents, they will take care of your customers who, in turn, will take care of your bottom line.