“Speed to Competency” includes metrics such as FCR, CSAT, Quality score, balanced scorecard, Agent engagement or ESAT, AHT and productivity.

By Colin Taylor

Having their best agents poached by other departments is a common refrain from contact center operators. These center leaders do not have any issue with upward mobility of their staff, in fact they likely support it as it offers the opportunity for advancement within the organization which can be a motivating factor.

No, the reason for the lament is simple math. New staff cannot perform at the same level as experienced staff. We all know intuitively that it takes time and attention for new staff fresh from their onboarding to mature into competent agents. Heck, when an agent graduates from training they are about as poor a performer as you will find. They are barely adequate to perform the role, and this is a far cry from the competent staff we are asking them to replace. It will take time, training, coaching and support to assist the adequate agent to complete the journey to competent.

“Competent” we would define as the point where agents are independent, require little support, perform well in all metrics.

There is a cost to the center to replace an experienced agent with a newbie who is adequate. Their calls are longer, it takes them longer to complete tasks, they need more help and support, they make more mistakes, and their work requires more rework, but over time their quality and proficiency improves and the gap versus a competent agent narrows. See our blog post Understanding your Contact Center Costs – Attrition for more information on the costs.

There are a number of approaches and elements that an operator can employ to inform the “Agent Ramp-Up Time” or “Speed to Competency.” These can include metrics such as FCR, CSAT, Quality score, balanced scorecard, Agent engagement or ESAT, AHT and productivity. Typically, developing agents are not measured against a single number, but rather a range for each. By profiling your existing agents against one or more of these metrics you can define a range that equates with the performance of your existing experienced or competent staff.

Of course, you can establish a framework to track progress towards competency, identify training and coaching that can be delivered to speed this process. Some organizations employ an Adequacy, Competency, Mastery (ACM) model.

Understanding the speed to competency and the associated costs can be employed to support investments in learning and development that can reduce this time and/or improve agent retention thereby reducing the need to onboard new staff.

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(Jul 1, 2022)