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


Share on LinkedIn

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.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peggy Carlaw
Peggy Carlaw is the founder of Impact Learning Systems. Impact helps companies develop and implement customer service strategies to improve the customer experience. Their consulting services and training programs help organizations create a customer-focused culture while producing measurable business results. Peggy is also the author of three books published by McGraw-Hill including Managing and Motivating Contact Center Employees.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here