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Workforce & Performance Management

Author sbenson22
#1 | Posted: 23 May 2007 11:12 
I would like feedback from other leaders who provide performance feedback within a call center environment. I have an employee who disagrees with the assessment scores given from phone monitor call elements regarding courtesy & respect. The expectation is to deliver a helpful pleasant tone inflection during the telephone interaction with the customer. The associates tone of voice is unfriendly & callers can sense the lack of caring. All call monitors are recorded and provided to employees to listen to. The team member states this is not an objective assessment and more management's opinion of there tone of voice, the job gets done. What feedback would you provide this employee who disagrees with the performance assessment regarding their overall tone of voice?

Author patilint
#2 | Posted: 23 May 2007 13:09 
I would think if you have phone recordings it would be fairly obvious if the tone was up to standard. I know myself when I have been less than friendly or approachable. It may be hard for someone to admit but they know.

Is this a (1) time call that gives this impression, or an ongoing situation?

I have been a team leader for quite a few years, and while I don't give the performance feedback, I am consulted on my observations within the group. We have a performance review every January with a mid-year go over of what is going on. Attitude on the phone would be a major issue for a call center associate and think it could result in an unsatisfactory appraisal. That could mean no merit increase and the possibility (if serious enough) of being placed on a probationary status - which gives 90 days to be remedied or possiblility of dismissal. This all depends on what metrics you have in place to measure performance.

Will be interesting to hear others viewpoints on this.

Author ayaree
#3 | Posted: 23 May 2007 19:34 
SB, I am not the respondent you are looking for when it comes to active monitoring of call performance, as I don't currently use it. But I don't think I am altogether out of my league, as I have a management as well as a customer perspective.

From the management perspective: what is the yardstick for not a CSR not providing a pleasant tone, is it all subjective listening with a dash of common sense? Does this person provide a "dead pan" or "lifeless" tone? When you say that there is a noticeable reaction on the part of customers, that invites me to wonder how explicitly you know this to be the case, are you deducing this from tones from customers?

Regardless of the tools in place to determine that someone's "attitude" is not in the right place with customers, your company needs to have the ability to make "upbeat" customer interaction a measurable performance factor upfront. It should not come across as a surprise to this employee that her spoken demeanor is being looked at. When it comes to what is friendly, that is where the true subjectivity ensues, and I will tuch upon this in a customer perspective. The main thing a CSR needs to do in order to achieve a friendly demeanor with a customer is to be in synch with the customer's drift of thought and to manage that drift in an organized fashion.

Customer point of view: I can't stand scripted calls. I feel like I am abiding by extra rules I don't need after I have bought something. The quality of a call diminishes for me when I hear someone ask if there is anything else they can help me with and end with "thank you for choosing _____."

I didn't choose to endure all that canned stuff when I chose to go with that product. All I want is someone who can make sense of my situation and deal with it. I don't want predefined scripts that don't necessarily suit the free-flowing conversation I feel that I need, and the last thing I want is to be expected to fit into someone's script!

Sb, your CSR could very well be lacking in the friendly department, but I can tell you that what I want as a customer is solid information and not scripted phrases that only build on contingencies I can do without. If your monitoring system is heavily script-based, maybe this person has a leg to stand on, maybe not.

But if you're confident in your findings (via the people that listen to the employee), then explain to the person that you need to hear a particular quality subject to seasoned experts that have been through what she is working on for X years, and put the person on an improvement plan and have the backing of Human Resources when you do that. When the person continues with the lack of "objectivity," you would need to emphasize to that employee that performance assessment is a constructed chunk of data and that person is not in position to yea or nay the findings of listening experts that have been where that person is before. Anything further to this conversation would be grounds to getting HR to leap in and be on side with a termination if there is no cooperation.

I guess the question you really had was "what do I do if the metric and the employee's convictions conflict?"

What I said above is what I would do without having a corporate policy spelled out in front of me.

Author patilint
#4 | Posted: 24 May 2007 06:31 
I agree with Ayaree about the "canned" "scripted" calls. We do not script the calls, we do not monitor the calls (although the management does have the ability to listen in if they so desire).

If the CSR has the tools to do their job and the training - they should be able to respond appropriately and correctly without scripting.

I called a candy company the other day to place an order - by the time I was fininshed, if I heard the words 'have a chocolate day' one more time I would have screamed.

I want efficient, effective, respectful communications with customers or when I am a customer. The 'canned' and 'corney' scripting for me is a big turnoff.

I think metrics are very important but all should be tempered with common sense and a regard to the outcome of the conversation. If customers are complaining then it must be addressed.....if it is perception on the "listeners" part, then it must be looked at more specifically depending on frequency, situation, metrics in place, company policies etc.


Author dgsuttles2000
#5 | Posted: 24 May 2007 12:51 

Some individuals are going to argue with every coaching tip that you give them. It is their makeup. You have to give them the feedback whether they are receptive or not otherwise you are letting them set the stage on how well you do your job. In customer service perception is 9/10th of the law. Sometimes if you chose to explain it that way it helps. Otherwise, stand your ground if it is clearly a less than desirable call. There are a few associates out there that will say things like that to intimidate the coach so that the next time you shy away from giving tough feeback. But avoiding that tough feedback does not help you or the associate become a stronger player. Let them know that they do not have to agree with your assessment but it is still your observations and it is an expectation that they use a more customer friendly tone. Also include that killing the customer with kindness is advantageous for the associate because the call will be handled much quicker and it prevents a second call to speak to someone else. So, in essence, the number of calls coming into the center diminish and it gives them more of a break in between. Another avenue I have taken is the discussion of "Do you like this job" "Do you think it is a good fit or is there something else that you are looking for" Some people are just not cut from the right cloth to work in call centers.

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