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5 Not-So-Surprising Reasons for Poor Agent Performance

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McKay Bird

Chief Marketing Officer

What’s the number one priority of any thriving call center?

Quickly addressing customer problems and buyer objections.

The problem: there are a complicated series of steps between an incoming call and a happy customer hang up.

An agent’s ability to navigate those steps effectively is a huge factor in accomplishing high levels of customer satisfaction.

Poor performance can damage customer relationships, sometimes leaving them with no choice but to switch to competing products and services.

In fact, American Express discovered more than 50% of Americans ditched buying a product due of terrible service – 33% of those polled said they’d think about switching to a competitor after only one bad service experience.

So what are the most common contributors to poor agent performance and how can they be fixed?

The 5 Most Common Reasons for Poor Agent Performance

Inadequate Tools

Employees of all stripes need training and tools to do their job well. Call center agents are no exception.

Maybe a valuable customer call gets routed to a new, inexperienced agent without the capability to provide the best service.

Or a customer waits on hold, then waits some more, only to wait even longer as agents transfer back and forth, trying to find the best solution — all without the call center manager’s monitoring and support.

These are just some examples of the performance costs of not taking advantage of the latest cloud-based call center technology.

Routing Calls to the Wrong Agents

Not every call center agent can handle every type of customer.

Some agents specialize in closing customers while others excel in calming angry customers.

Either way, allowing random agents to answer incoming calls is a recipe for poor performance and customer dissatisfaction.

That’s why successful, efficient call center managers use an Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) system.

ACD systems perform many functions that call centers had previously only dreamed of.

Most importantly, they connect customers to agents who can best serve them.

ACD systems do this by gathering pertinent information from an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system through which callers answer qualifying questions to identify what they need.

Then, the ACD uses that information and routes the customer to the right agent, using skill-based call routing.

ACD systems can also help in the case of accidental disconnects.

When a customer gets accidentally disconnected with an agent, calls back, and waits on hold again only to have to explain their issue to a new agent with no information about their situation, they’re much more likely to end the call dissatisfied even if their original problem is solved.

Instead, call centers can use ACD systems to recognize when a customer is calling back and swiftly connect them with their original agent.

Missing IVR System

Properly serving a customer requires knowing who they are, what they want, their problems and expectations.

If call center agents don’t know any of this when answering a customer’s call, they’re not set up to deliver extraordinary service.

An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is critical for improving agent performance because it captures customer information before the customer connects to an agent.

If a call center doesn’t have an IVR system, then their agents will be unprepared to quickly address customer needs upon answering the call.

But with an IVR, an agent has all the data they need to start solving customer problems efficiently. This data not only improves FCR rates but can increase an agent’s morale and job satisfaction.

No Call Monitoring or Recording.

Another reason for poor agent performance is the lack of manager oversight that comes with call monitoring or recording.

If managers aren’t monitoring agent calls, agents may be unknowingly making serious sales or customer service mistakes with no one to correct them.

Call monitoring and recording allows managers to step in on calls in real time, intervening to serve the customer when the agent is failing to do so or coaching the agent privately while on a live call.

It’s true that managers can’t listen to every agent call. Modern recording software, however, allows the manager to search call transcripts for keywords and other customer situations.

This provides an opportunity for the manager to follow up with the agent, supporting them with strategies and advice to better serve customers in the future.

Another perfect use for this technology is to record expert agent customer calls and share them with newer agents to help develop the know-how to leave customers happy and satisfied.

Noncompliance with TCPA/PCI Guidelines and Regulations

When managers can’t monitor calls, they have no idea if agents are complying with TCPA and PCI-DSS regulations.

Violating these regulations could snowball into a significant problem for the agent and the call center.

For example, customers can receive up to $500 for each violation of the Do Not Call Registry. – plus up to $500 per phone call for any TCPA violation.

And if a call center employs a careless agent, a customer could get $1500 for each call if an agent violated the TCPA on purpose.

Agents also need to be aware of PCI guidelines, which govern securely and safely protecting customer payment information.

Violating these could result in huge costs, including lost customer trust and confidence, fines, penalties, and more.

Avoiding these violations are another reason why acquiring a call monitoring system is essential to any call center’s operation; they vastly reduce the threat of agent noncompliance.

Additionally, utilizing the right software that prompts agents to maintain compliance properly also ensures call centers against unnecessary penalties.

How to Radically Boost Agent Performance and Increase Customer Happiness

Certain call centers suffer due to poor agent performance and unhappy customers, leaving them wide open to ubiquitous legal and financial threats that keep managers awake at night.

Fortunately, there are solutions to improve agent performance and help managers get more sleep.

TCN offers the tools managers need to increase profitability, effectiveness and create win-wins for all business stakeholders. Check out our e-book for more insights into using the TCN platform to crank up profit margins.

Explore all the features of TCN’s call center software