Employee Performance Gaps: How to Identify Gaps in Call Center Agent Performance


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There are three steps to iden­ti­fy­ing per­for­mance gaps in call cen­ter agents:

  1. Cre­ate a bullet-proof mon­i­tor­ing form
  2. Develop a com­pan­ion Call Qual­ity Guide
  3. Hold fre­quent cal­i­bra­tion sessions.

This blog post will address the first issue: How to cre­ate a bullet-proof mon­i­tor­ing form to aid in eval­u­at­ing gaps in employ­ees’ performance.

The trick to cre­at­ing a great mon­i­tor­ing form is to first cre­ate a list of behav­iors that you want to hear dur­ing a call. Once you have that list, divide the behav­iors into “Stan­dards” and “Objectives.”

Employee Per­for­mance Standards

Stan­dards describe the min­i­mum accept­able level of per­for­mance for all reps. These behav­iors relate to the “bones” of the job–what’s required of every employee in every cus­tomer inter­ac­tion. If an employee doesn’t meet a Stan­dard, he or she falls below the line for accept­able per­for­mance, and you’ve iden­ti­fied an employee per­for­mance gap. Stan­dards are quan­tifi­able, mean­ing they’re either met or they’re not—there are no ifs, ands, or buts with Stan­dards. Here are some examples:

  • Ver­i­fies cus­tomer name and account number
  • Gets agree­ment on prob­lem statement
  • Offers to send a pre­view pack­age (if cus­tomer qualifies)
  • Asks for an order

If a team mem­ber has a per­for­mance gap around one of these crit­i­cal behav­iors, he or she fails the call. If the employee accom­plishes all Stan­dards on a call—even if it’s not done with a lot of skill or pizzazz—the employee meets the min­i­mum accept­able level, and there is no employee per­for­mance gap. Of course, you want your employ­ees to do more than achieve the bare min­i­mum. This is where Per­for­mance Objec­tives come in.

Employee Per­for­mance Objectives

Per­for­mance Objec­tives are some­what less dis­tinct than Stan­dards, and as such, are mea­sured more sub­jec­tively. Objec­tives are qual­i­ta­tive; they describe some­thing you want the employee to accom­plish, but you under­stand it will be accom­plished to dif­fer­ent degrees depend­ing on the employee’s skill level and on the unique prop­er­ties of the inter­ac­tion. Whereas when mea­sur­ing Stan­dards, you deter­mine gaps in per­for­mance in terms of whether or not they were met, when mea­sur­ing Objec­tives you assess how well they were met. Here are sev­eral examples:

  • Builds rap­port with customer
  • Han­dles chal­lenges effectively
  • Exhibits strong ver­bal and vocal skills
  • Min­i­mizes dead air

Per­for­mance Objec­tives are behav­iors that you would expect would be done bet­ter by employ­ees with more expe­ri­ence. For exam­ple, some­one just out of train­ing would not be able to han­dle chal­leng­ing callers as well as some­one who’s been on the job for a while.

Objec­tives are scored on a slid­ing scale of 1–3 or 1–5. They are not behav­iors for which you would ter­mi­nate someone’s employ­ment; they are behav­iors that you hope will improve over time with prac­tice and coach­ing. You can iden­tify and coach per­for­mance gaps in employ­ees who score at the low end of the scale.

There are two other rea­sons for dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing these two types of per­for­mance mea­sures: con­sis­tency and fair­ness. It should be rel­a­tively easy for all super­vi­sors to score Stan­dards con­sis­tently to iden­tify employee per­for­mance gaps because they are cut-and-dried: “yes” or “no.” But how would you iden­tify a gap in “sounds pro­fes­sional?” How about a gap in “exhibits strong ver­bal and vocal skills?” Do you think every­one observ­ing per­for­mance would agree whether or not there was a gap?

That’s the ideal sit­u­a­tion, but it hap­pens less fre­quently than desired. It’s much eas­ier to agree on Stan­dards since they’re “yes” (the Stan­dard was met and there’s no gap in the employee’s per­for­mance) or “no” (the Stan­dard was not met and there is a gap in the employee’s per­for­mance). Since Stan­dards are, by def­i­n­i­tion, the min­i­mum accepted level of per­for­mance, it’s obvi­ous when a gap occurs. These gaps must be addressed and cor­rected immediately.

Of course, the ideal sit­u­a­tion is when all super­vi­sors who lis­ten to a call score the call the same. That way, an employee receives con­sis­tent feed­back no mat­ter who is giv­ing the feed­back, and the employee learns what good per­for­mance looks like. The only way for that to hap­pen is to cre­ate a Call Qual­ity Guide and hold ongo­ing call cal­i­bra­tion ses­sions with your super­vi­sors. Stay tuned for the sec­ond and third posts in this series to learn more about these topics.


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