Common sense. There are multiple reasons for knowing what state agents are currently in and the importance of this information helps with overall performance and efficiency in the call center.
- Agent and Manager awareness of current states
- Call, Email, Chat routing
- Performance and efficiency review
Agents being aware of what other agents are doing is vital for daily efficiency in the contact center. Taking a break, going to lunch, logging into another group, going to a training seminar, coaching others, there are many purposes for knowing what others are doing so agents want and need to see the states for others in their group.
There is also a niche where agents need to see own state or more specifically how long they have been in their state. The purpose of this is to continue to improve productivity by showing the agent their state no matter the state they are in. Many times managers find that agents focus on the non-productive states such as ACW / Wrap-Up and take this state to its limit before going back to an idle or available option. Agents will complain that they were not aware of how long they were logged out and therefore did not change their state. As a manager you are well aware of the agents that try to take advantage of non-productive states and it is up to you to correct that agent’s deficiency.
How productive and efficient is the call center is an on-going request from senior management. Seeing the current agent state as well as historical trends is no longer a nice to have it is a need to have for the manager. Providing feedback to management is more easily done with historical agent states reporting. Yearly reviews with agent states information justifies the positive or negative review the manager gives the agent. Productive, efficient, do their jobs as requested are all easy to find in a historical report for the agent states.
The columns working state (productive) and non-working state (non-productive) show the agents productivity. However, the states need to be properly defined. There are states that are non-productive and unpaid such as lunch. These states should not be included in the reports or if they are they should be shown as unpaid non-productive states. Then there are states such as training or coaching that are non-productive but are paid and need to be included. The push back from the agents will be that they are learning or helping others and overall it will help the call center. These are all points that you, as a manager, need to work out with the agent.
There are other columns of states that should be included in the manager report; Occupancy and Adherence. This is WFM data and it is not meant to replace the WFM reporting only enhance the manager summary reporting for the agents. By including the WFM along with the Voice, Email and Chat data the manager can get a detailed view of the agent true productivity.
Productivity and efficiency especially from a long term point of view is extremely valuable to both the agents as well as the manager. A well-defined report that defines the historical performance of the agent for the last year. Certainly there will be disagreement about some of numbers but the numbers do not lie they show us what state and how long that agent has been in that state. Sure it could be the agent did not change their state but that is their responsibility not the reporting software.
In today’s contact center voice is no longer the only method of contact and doing business with the customer. Beyond the phone there is email, chat and social media. Monitoring agent states across these platforms is a need to have data source. Many contact centers require hard copy (email and chat) to finalize business, because it has to be in writing. So as the agents migrate back and forth from voice to email and chat their state may appear to be useless. This is not true, however. In fact, when you have lazy agents that want to take advantage of not getting on a call they will extend their email and chat status much longer than needed. For the manager it is not just the amount of talk time it is email and chat time as well.
Social media has become a venting place for unhappy customers. Utilities often see complaints on social sites rather than get an actual compliant or power outage notification from a customer. So to learn of the problem utilities are now watching social sites to learn about power, gas and water problems. Another downside about this is the agent that begins to work the social sites on a personal basis as well as for business.
Using a historical report is an outstanding tool during an annual review with an agent. Seeing their total times in various states speaks volumes about their productivity, efficiency and willingness to do the job properly. The manager is able to review the agent productivity in different stages so the occasional poor productivity by the agent will show up on the report. But, the manager is able to remove those numbers and focus on the annual review rather than the “oops” by the agent.
One challenge that managers must prepare for is the number of different agent states their system and agents can handle. It is very easy to define 100 different reason codes, however, the ramifications of this many codes is the downside. Requiring agents to select from a large number of codes can be difficult. They do not remember the definition of the code, they are too busy to look up the code, they do not care what the code is as long as it is close to what they are doing. Some agents randomly select their codes, others start at the top and work their way down and then start over at the top. Work with the agents to define the reason codes and purpose of each code. Working with the agents is the right way to win their beneficial efforts.
Having agents use agent states properly will improve not only their productivity and efficiencies but the overall contact centers productivity as well. Agents want and need to see what others are doing especially if they are work from home agents. Keeping everyone aware of each other’s states as well as their own state will provide a much nicer working environment. Historical reports with agent states is a tremendous tool for annual reviews and being able to see where internal change is needed.