Speed to Competency for Service Agents – Measurement or Action?

Service-AgentsIs increasing speed to competency in a contact centre environment about  measurement or action?  Maybe it is about a bit of both.  By taking advantage of knowledge management tools, service delivery managers can track and substantially improve speed to competency. 

In fact knowledge management tools offer the opportunity to become proactive and redefine the speed with which new employees can achieve competency.

Defining Speed to Competency

In discussions on service agent “speed to competency” the focus is often on the definition and measurement. The rationale is that with a defined and repeatable metric, the effectiveness of employee induction and training programmes can be compared and improved.

What Speed to Competency Measures can Tell You

At the same time the metric will inform on cost of employee attrition and the cost associated with recruiting and assimilating new employees into the organisation.  This helps with planning and budgeting during changes in workload, centre integrations and consolidations.  Speed to competency metrics also highlight the core costs associated with providing a competent team to service inbound call load.

Measuring Speed to Competency

In service desk environments measurement of service agent competency is often using service delivery metrics or KPI’s obtained by the call handling or CRM system.  The key metrics are applied across the team thus comparing the performance card of new team members against target KPI’s or the average performance of the team. Time to competency is defined as the time to achieve the target performance level.

Using Employee Scorecards

This approach can highlight employees that are either faster or slower at developing the skills required to meet the criteria set out in the performance card.  What it may not provide is any diagnostic insight into the reasons for the differences or ways to speed up the learning curve.

Using Call Monitoring

An alternative approach is for line managers and supervisors to monitor service agent interactions including by listening into calls and evaluating call performance on a call-by-call basis.  This approach can be effective and allow for immediate feedback to the service agent. It is also time consuming and risks absorbing time with service agents that are already competent.

Best of Both?

Use a combined approach with metrics used to identify any areas for concern and call monitoring used for diagnostics and feedback. This allows team leaders to focus their efforts towards the employees that need it the most. Whilst more effective this still remains a reactive approach.

Rewriting the “Competency” Rulebook – Let’s Get Proactive

For a start, lets consider what competency means in a service centre.  For the customer, it means getting an appropriate response to your enquiry.  For the service agent it means having ready access to relevant information to allow you to respond to and resolve the enquiry. In short speed to competency is about speed to access relevant knowledge, with the training concentrating on the call handling process, rather than the knowledge needed to resolve a call.

Getting the Information When You Need It

This is where knowledge management tools come in handy.  Not only do they facilitate the organisation of relevant information, they also help present this to the service agent quickly and accurately, especially when a natural language search can be undertaken. With the right information at their fingertips, ALL service agents become more competent.

Process Competency is Quicker than Acquiring Knowledge

This replaces the need for service agents to acquire the organisations knowledge to the much simple task of following the organisations process. Learning and following a process is much simpler and quicker than acquiring a body of knowledge.

Tools to Keep Track and Take Action

An added benefit of knowledge management tools is the analysis of enquiries across the team to identify where additional training could be of benefit, or where additional knowledge would be beneficial. This means that knowledge gaps can be plugged by pushing the most relevant information to individual agents.  For service centres that handle a wide range of tasks and require multi skilled agents, this process can be targeted individually, driving relevant knowledge improvements across the team.

Knowledge Management Tools – Integrating Measurement and Action

In summary, knowledge management tools reduce time to competency pro-actively, by eliminating or reducing the need for service agents to acquire knowledge in order to deliver high quality service. The tools also help track and improve performance through targeted interventions across the team based on the profile of incoming service request that the centre is faced with.

 

 

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