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Published on 11 March 2020


Targets – we all have them. In the world of Contact Centres, there are lots of them. A lot of time is spent collating information for reports about certain ‘key’ performance indicators and even more time is spent looking to change or enhance performance in one area, often to the detriment of performance against another.

The most frustrating part in dealing with targets is that they are often misunderstood.  If you ask someone what constitutes good performance against a particular target, you are likely to either get several conflicting responses or, in the worst cases, an explanation that misses the point of the target and actually promotes negative behaviours instead.

It’s really important that you, as a team and as a business, are fully aware of each of your targets and that you all share the same definition of them.  For example, when someone talks about an ’80 in 20’ service level target, we all know that it means 80% of contacts to be answered within 20 seconds.  Right – but what constitutes good performance?  Are we saying that the aim is to hit EXACTLY 80%?  Is achieving 82% even better or is it, in fact, worse?  What do we do if we achieve 78%?  Do we hold inquests into where the 2% was lost or do we consider it to be close enough?

Another great example of a misunderstood target is Adherence.  I have lost count of the amount of times that people have said to me ‘We set the agents a 90% adherence target’ or, worse still, ‘We expect 100% adherence to schedules’.  Let’s look at the first one of these – are we REALLY saying that, if an agent works a 7-and-a-half-hour day, that we are going to allow the agent to not adhere to their schedules for 45 minutes a day and still call it acceptable?  By setting that as a target, are we not actually encouraging people who would otherwise adhere 98% of the time to actually adhere LESS?

In the instance above, it is important to understand that what you are setting is an adherence TOLERANCE, rather than a target.  The target, in truth, is ‘100% adherence or as close to it as you possibly can’.  Because of call length, we acknowledge that you may not adhere to your schedule 100% of the time so we will tolerate lower performance’.  This message ensures that those who could adhere 98% of the time will be motivated to do so.

Adherence, Conformance, AHT, Service Level goals plus many, many more – each of these targets needs to be defined and mutually understood and the consequences of not reaching them (or exceeding them) need to be explored, shared and understood.

Author: David Preece
date: 11/03/20

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