How many calls should agents handle in an hour?

How many calls should agents handle in an hour?

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Have you set a goal, or even a requirement, about how many calls your agents should handle each hour or for the day? Are the agents aware of how their hourly total is progressing?

How many calls should agents handle in an hour? Click to Tweet

Setting such a goal is natural. You can easily quantify the metric and easily report it. But, is it as simple as that?

In order to help avoid costly mistakes that are difficult to overcome, Customer Relationship Metrics has developed a self-assessment that will help you identify issues within your own Quality Assurance Program.

This easy to understand approach provides the blueprint needed to become a more customer centric contact center by leveraging quality to lower your costs to operate while increase the customer experience.

One of the questions in 29 Quality Assurance Mistakes to Avoid asks “has number of calls handled been removed from your agent scorecards?” Has it?

Is ‘how many calls’ agents handle healthy

Do you remember the “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Vivian began a new job on the assembly line at the candy factory? Who didn’t see what was coming while watching the limited training they received about how to wrap the pieces and put the candy back onto the conveyor belt?

When the belt started to roll, they were doing a great job but then it sped up and the hilarious effort to keep the candy from traveling from them to those boxing the delicious treats was the comedic destination of the skit.

That scene is too much like the life of a contact center agent. The calls keep coming, seemingly faster and faster! It’s easy to imagine that your agents can feel like Lucy and Vivian, especially when they have a performance goal of handling x number of calls per hour.

Now think about your agents as Lucy and each call is delivered like the candy on the belt. Agent Lucy cannot spend extra time on the call than absolutely necessary – answer the question, thanks you for calling, goodbye. Next call.

It’s the same balance needed as a quality wrap job of the candy. Things move quickly but the caller cannot be rushed off the phone before the question is answered.

Agent focus is on what?

What happens when agents are too focused on getting to the next call? Naturally they rush customers off of the phone by giving a partial or wrong answer. Or worse yet, they hang up on the customer so the call is counted as handled.

“What happens when agents are too focused on getting to the next call?” Click to Tweet

Do you fear you have agents who give the shortest answer possible and make customers feel like they are a bother? What kind of message about the value of the relationship do these behaviors send to customers?

What do winners focus on?

It’s the ongoing debate of quantity vs. quality. The ‘how many calls’ mentality is used in many call centers to drive higher levels of speed. But, Elite contact centers instead focus on resolution metrics and customer experience evaluations.

Measure (and therefore made front and center) what makes a difference to the value of your center. Face it – the primary purpose of a call center is to help customers, not hurry customers. Right? So why would you do something that sacrifices and undermines that purpose?

“Elite contact centers focus on resolution metrics and customer experience evaluations.” Click to Tweet

Placing emphasis on how many calls an agent handles takes the focus off of resolving issues, and certainly allows no time to proactively prevent the next call. When an agent is evaluated on how many calls they handle, with more being better, you are likely rewarding them for driving down first contact resolution rates.

It’s incredibly damaging to think of the second or third call to be the same as a first call. This is what the ‘how many calls’ mentality rewards. Given the tremendous decrease in satisfaction and NPS on the second and subsequent calls, the view of productivity based on how many calls handled goes against everything for which you exist.

Transform the ‘how many calls’ mindset

Transform quality! The Impact Quality Assurance (iQA) model is a blueprint for a more customer centric approach to quality. iQA marries the Internal Quality Monitoring (iQM) with the External Quality Monitoring (eQM), metrics, and training to create a big picture approach.

It enables you to quickly and easily identify the pitfalls of traditional quality assurance practices. It assists in shifting the thought process from “faster” to “fundamental” which allows you to reach the optimal level of effectiveness AND efficiency.

Redirecting the focus of defining quality away from counting calls handled to one of customer defined resolution (by measuring the customer perception) incorporates all four of the Vital Questions in iQA.

The time is now to update your agent scorecards with the iQA model before your customers focus on moving fast to your competition.

About Dr. Jodie Monger

Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the president of Customer Relationship Metrics and a pioneer in voice of the customer research for the contact center industry. Before creating CRMetrics, she was the founding associate director of Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality.

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