Should Agent Adherence Be Your #1 Concern?

Flat agent adherence is a problem that plagues many call center supervisors. In a 2010 ICMI Workforce Management Practices study, 45.7% stated that agent adherence is their #1 concern.

Simply put, if you have agents doing anything but answering calls and providing quality service, your call center business is headed for disastrous results. Consequently, costs will increase and satisfaction for everyone will decrease, lower profits and raising stress levels. Many initiatives and programs can be utilized to enhance revenue, but unless butts are in seats, working productively, all else is virtually for naught.

Agent adherence ought to be your #1 concern. Here’s why:

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As a manager or supervisor, it is extremely important that you keep the channels of communication open with other departments in your company. Connecting with those department managers will give you the leverage you need to pivot when necessary. Hence, the reason you are in management. It is easy to believe that you work in a silo when you are in a call center with your team, seemingly alone. However, your business is probably supported by product development and marketing departments, just to name a couple, that can make your life miserable if you don’t know what’s coming down the pike! In order to avoid surprises and provide the best culture for your agents’ adherence, keep you head in the game by developing communication channels and building trust with other department leaders.

Another consideration toward agent adherence is the development of a strategy to measure workforce management. As supervisors, you are responsible for a lot and asked to do more: reporting, scheduling, forecasting, etc. If you don’t have software to streamline these responsibilities, then create a process and delegate it to a manager, especially if analytics is not your strength. Again, this is a management function that you as a supervisor must manage. Even if you hate analytics and reporting, you know it is unavoidable. Therefore, you must be proactive in handling it. By doing so, you are playing to your strengths, allowing you to adhere to what ills your agents.

What ills your agents? Chaos.

Agents hate to work in chaos, don’t they?

Yes, they do.

What is meant by chaos, you ask?

The chaos being referred to here is not the excitement on the floor when it is buzzing with business. That’s the good stuff; that’s energizing; that’s revenue! This kind of ‘chaos’ that agents hate is culturally destructive. It is the disorganization of agents through poor forecasting and scheduling supplied by management that doesn’t have a clue about staffing and center needs. And, one of the ways a management staff demonstrates that it doesn’t have a clue about agent adherence is through the mismanagement of staff planning. Ensuring that you have agent adherence at an optimum level is to ensure that your agents are effectively communicating with customers to satisfied conclusions. That means you don’t have agents sitting around on your clock, eating profits. It also means that you don’t have too much work for too few agents. Effective staff planning is paramount to creating a culture that encourages agent adherence.

Agent adherence takes precedent over many supervisory concerns because it is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It may look like a small issue at the outset, but it represents a huge issue, as you look into it deeper. Your frontline agents are your bread-and-butter. They will sustain you if you take care of them or they will starve you to death if you neglect them. So, focus on what you can do to increase agent adherence by giving them a center that will support them. Give them the necessary ongoing training, schedule flexibility through trading, call re-routing to encourage a natural competition among agents (i.e. give your best agents the best call times, etc.), recognition of your highest performing agents. In short, give your agents every reason to ‘buy-in’ to your process. When you tap into the heart of what makes your center tick, your frustrating challenges with agent adherence will turn into satisfied customers.

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To Your Success,?

Greg Meares

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About the Author: Greg Meares

As a Sr. Consultant for Performance Connections, Inc., Greg's primary objective is to provide value to organizations that are focused on raising brand awareness. Additionally Greg works on improving the customer experience, through business process re-engineering, and call center best practices. Greg is an industry expert and is often called upon to provide his analysis and solution oriented approach to improving performance in the BPO and Call Center industry.

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