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Replacing the Annual Performance Appraisal with Timely Employee Feedback

Providing timely employee feedback will improve the customer experience along with the performance of your contact center or back-office operating department. Most employees welcome constructive feedback, suggestions and coaching, particularly when it’s tied to events that they remember. Quality assurance (or quality management) programs are designed to provide timely feedback to employees so that they know what they are doing right and where they can improve their performance.

Why Annual Appraisals are Disliked
The annual performance appraisal process is disliked by managers and employees alike. When it comes to contact centers, the annual appraisal is frequently irrelevant, particularly when it’s not tied to the quality assurance (QA) process. Even worse, it’s often de-motivating for agents and a huge time drain for managers who go through the process simply because it’s required. It’s ironic that the most important goal of the review process is to motivate employees when after waiting an entire year, most leave the discussion feeling alienated from their manager, undervalued, disengaged, or worse yet, “surprised.” In most cases, the feedback itself is a case of “too little, too late” and too far removed from the events or demonstrated behavior to have a positive impact on improving performance. And when these annual evaluations are used as the primary factor in deciding salary increases, it negatively impacts the effectiveness of the quality assurance program, as agents learn quickly that QA results have little effect on their performance appraisals. Clearly, something’s got to change.
Performance Management Improves the Employee Experience
Historical and real-time contact center performance management should be used to replace the annual appraisal process. Performance management solutions act as consolidators, creating balanced scorecards that provide a quantitative view of agent and department performance. These solutions collect performance data from QA, customer surveys, the automatic call distributor (ACD), customer relationship management (CRM) system, sales/collections applications, and a whole lot more, to assess how well agents and managers are doing in meeting their goals. While they don’t address qualitative issues, they present a single system of record and promote a sense of fairness that helps to create a cycle of success, as compared to annual reviews that often drive employees away.
Real-time performance management has the ability to transform the employee feedback process by giving managers, supervisors and employees the real-time data they need to become active participants in managing their performance and development on an ongoing basis. Real-time performance management aligns employee key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals with the enterprise’s strategic objectives, and provides real-time, data-driven insights on employee performance relative to individual goals, peers, team, and the contact center. This high degree of transparency delineates how each individual’s performance directly impacts enterprise goals. The emphasis on alignment of goals and identification of positive corrective action promotes accountability and motivates employees to modify behavior and improve performance, which results in the delivery of a better customer experience and creates a performance-driven culture. See Figure x.
Figure x: Annual Appraisal vs. Real-Time Performance Management

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Final Thoughts
Real-time performance management provides feedback that gives employees and managers actionable intelligence that empowers them to take corrective measures on a timely basis. Knowing where they stand at all times promotes awareness and drives ongoing modifications in behavior that result in greater employee engagement, improved agent performance and, ultimately, higher levels of customer satisfaction. Real-time performance management transforms the performance appraisal from a static “hindsight” event to a dynamic and forward-looking process that provides ongoing targeted feedback and recognition to drive incremental improvements.

Ask the Experts

Question:
I run a small collections agency with 10 seats. Do I need to do quality assurance (QA) and if so, how should I do it?

Answer:

Yes, whether you have one or thousands of collectors, you should do quality assurance so that your staff knows they are being monitored, and to identify coaching opportunities, increase collection results and improve regulatory compliance. The two primary ways of doing QA are:

  1. Traditional method – random interactions are selected by a QA analyst or supervisor. Due to resource limitations, most companies evaluate only 2 – 10 calls (or interactions) per collector or 1 – 3% of interactions per month. The interactions, either recorded or live, are assessed on an evaluation form and are scored against established contact handling criteria. QA evaluation results should be shared with collectors during review sessions, which should also include coaching. Although better than not performing QA at all, the traditional method is typically statistically irrelevant. If issues are found, it is more by luck than by science.
  2. Post-call speech analytics – enhancing the QA process with speech analytics enables users to review up to 100% of recorded calls. Read More

DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.