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7 Key Challenges That Hinder Agent Performance - Talkdesk - Blog

7 Key Challenges That Hinder Agent Performance

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally written by Brian Cantor, Digital Director and Principal Analyst at CCW, for CCW and Talkdesk’s Special Report: Agent Performance.

Agent performance is, itself, a major challenge for contact centers. Even if all the strategic and systemic stars align, there is no guarantee the agents will actually be able to achieve optimal results. Well-coached NFL teams do not always win Super Bowls, well-practiced speakers do not always present inspirational speeches at the podium and empowered contact center agents do not always deliver experiences that satisfy customer and business needs. There is, however, an absolute guarantee that agents will not perform properly in a suboptimal contact center environment. If the management directives, processes and technologies are not predicated on driving agents to success, the customer experience will absolutely suffer.

By succumbing to some common challenges, today’s organizations turn the already difficult task of agent performance into an utterly impossible one.

Unclear and inconsistent metrics

Employees are fundamentally numbers-driven. They may appreciate the qualitative idea of customer centricity, but they require a quantitative structure to guide their behavior. They require metrics. Not simply a way to help agents “track” their behavior, metrics should establish a hierarchy of value. They should reveal what matters to the business, which in turn lets agents know what they must do to achieve success now – and rewards, promotions and opportunities in the future.
Unfortunately, many businesses fail to create a consistent, straightforward metrics framework. Some do not provide agents with transparent access to performance numbers. Some tell agents to focus on connecting with customers but then evaluate them specifically on talk time and call count. Some advocate for customer centricity yet issue bonuses without paying mind to customer-oriented outcomes.

By not creating a clear, consistent performance hierarchy that agents can follow in real-time, businesses do not simply undermine contact center performance. They also create internal frustration, which renders agents unsuitable for dazzling customers in the short-term and unlikely to stay with the business in the long run. CCW Digital research confirms “unclear metrics” as a top cause of unproductivity and a top agent experience challenge.

Performance standards in new channels

Organizations struggled to establish a clear, consistent performance framework in the phone/voice channel. Imagine the challenge of creating one that encompasses all contact channels. Indeed, the omnichannel revolution has compounded the challenge of establishing performance standards. Many organizations are still fleshing out engagement in newer, digital channels. What do customers expect in these channels? To what extent should service levels and response rates mirror those in the conventional voice channel? Is a quick, complete resolution as essential to a Twitter interaction as it is a telephone conversation?

As they work to understand performance expectations within individual channels, organizations also face the challenge of answering the omnichannel question. They must determine universal standards that apply regardless of channel. Customer-minded businesses are also wrestling with establishing metrics for the omnichannel experience itself, including ways to score the ease with which customers can move between channels.

Disintegrated technology

Before beginning to offer a resolution, the agent requires contextual information about the specific customer and specific issue. In many organizations, the process of acquiring this information is cumbersome, difficult or even impossible.
“Internal systems/tools can have both positive and negative impacts on agent performance,” said Gadi Shamia. “The data in these systems is usually critical to helping agents resolve customer issues, but most contact center agents need to access an average of eight disparate systems to resolve customer issues – this has a negative performance impact.”

CCW Digital research confirms “disintegrated technology” as the #1 productivity challenge, and it is easy to understand why. If agents need to spend minutes accessing multiple, complicated, unconnected screens just to get context, they have no prayer of delivering an optimal experience for the customer. They will either need to impose an additional, unwanted waiting period on the customer or ask the customer to repeat information. Either way, the customer is being asked to exert more effort while enduring a slower experience.

“Agent performance and CSAT suffer when a customer fails self service, calls the contact center and the agent has no idea who they are or the nature of their problem,” said Gadi. “The customer has to repeat everything again and relives that negative experience, in addition to the frustration of an inefficient solution. Effective omni-channel integration happens when the context of the previous interactions is carried forward to subsequent interactions.”

Quickly, yet meaningfully connecting with a customer is difficult enough for agents who have the information they need. It is an impossible task for those who do not.

Lack of knowledge – poor training

Agent empowerment is the key to performance. Great training is the key to agent empowerment. Unfortunately, some organizations struggle to deliver the training agents require. They gear training toward basic, generic procedures and scripts, ignoring the human competencies and brand-specific insights that help agents deliver meaningful value. Training cultivates agents who can answer common questions rather than those who can connect with customers. Always a problem, this issue becomes particularly pronounced amid the new contact center normal. With agent focus shifting to more complex, unpredictable interactions, procedural knowledge is even less useful. Today’s agents need to feel comfortable recognizing nuanced customer needs, before thinking critically and creatively about unique resolutions.

Organizations further undermine their training by ignoring the voice of the customer. They train agents on static knowledge, leaving them unable to understand what really matters to customers – and how those preferences are changing over time.
Customers can use self-service tools to access basic, standard information about the company and its products. They expect agents to deliver support that is dynamic and personalized.

The challenge of training goes beyond course material. Training, itself, can be the enemy of performance. Instead of leveraging automated tools and real-time, in-call support, many organizations remain committed to general classroom training. This training, which doesn’t even provide agents with custom, nuanced learning, takes agents away from their desks – and from the customers they are tasked with satisfying.

CCW Digital research identifies training and coaching as the top investment focuses for workforce management, performance and the agent experience. Organizations clearly understand the importance of training, but if they do not correct the training they are offering, their investments will be for naught.

Lack of knowledge – poor accessibility

Even the best training has its limitations. Agents will inevitably encounter questions for which they do not automatically know the answer. They will subsequently turn to the company knowledge base for assistance. The ease of navigating that knowledge base has direct ramifications for performance. Unfortunately, those ramifications are often of the negative variety. Company knowledge bases are cumbersome and unintuitive, requiring agents to exert considerable effort – and waste considerable time – acquiring information customers expect immediately.

Worse, they are not connected with the call desktop, analytics suite or CRM solution. They neither have the ability to “learn” based on past interactions nor guide agents based on the current interaction. The data remains static and impersonal at best and incorrect and out-of-date at worst.

Performance suffers as a result. Agents – even personable ones who can think on their feet – deliver experiences that are slower, less accurate and less personal than customers are demanding.

Poor workflow management

Agents are at their most valuable when conversing – and connecting – with customers. It is a task humans continue to do better than machines. It is also a task that continues to yield tremendous value for the business.

In an optimized contact center environment, agents would spend most (if not all) of their time in nuanced, deep, “human” interactions with customers. It would yield the greatest ROI for the business, while also driving the greatest possible degree of agent satisfaction. Agents would in turn be happier, stay longer, perform better and ultimately produce a stronger contact center function.

Few businesses actually create this ideal environment. They instead assign agents mundane tasks, including answering transactional calls, handling post-call work, performing data entry and participating in classroom training. Suboptimal scheduling compounds this matter, as agents sometimes spend time doing nothing.

By increasingly handling transactional matters, AI-driven self-service is helping to a degree. The interactions agents manage will be of a more nuanced, productive, valuable variety. Unfortunately, reducing transactional call volume only addresses part of the issue. Organizations will still need to account for the menial, non-interaction tasks on which agents are currently spending time. If not, agents will continue to perform below their potential.

Ineffective routing

Certain agents are better-suited for certain customers and issues. Many organizations fail to recognize – and take advantage of – this reality. They route calls based on random (or very rudimentary) rules, doing nothing to ensure “fitness” between the customer and agent. Performance suffers as a result. Agents are unable to make the best possible connections with customers. They also lack the knowledge to deliver the fastest, most worthwhile resolutions. Agents spend more time on each call and do not even deliver significant value for the customer.

It is not enough to emphasize customer centricity as an objective. A performance-centric company leverages processes and technology to foster the best possible connections between agents and customers. Find out how to overcome these challenges by clicking the button below.

Alison Jarris

Alison is the Content Marketing Manager at Talkdesk. In addition to writing and editing at Talkdesk, she is an avid traveler and serves as Communications Director for the Lona Project.


Publish Date: March 2, 2018 5:00 AM

2021 Buyers Guide Dialer Solutions

Acqueon Technologies Inc.

Acqueon's AI-driven conversational engagement software enables sales, marketing and service organizations to engage in emotionally connected dialogs with customers via their channel of choice for significantly improved results. The Acqueon suite adds multichannel campaign management, contact center analytics, desktop, and CRM connectors for your contact center software of choice, including Amazon Connect, Cisco, Nice inContact, and Twilio. Acqueon conversational engagement software leverages the Acqueon IQ platform to aggregate data from the various applications, assemble rich customer contexts, and drive next-best-action using powerful statistical and predictive models.

Avyukta Intellicall Consulting Pvt. Ltd.

Dialer CRM VoIP CTI Cloud Solutions
We are a single roofed solution for Dialer / Hosted Dialer / VoIP / CRM and CTI Solutions . With 300+ call center clients in above 9 countries and recent features such as :

Dynamic custom agent crm popup

avatar module

10+ Custom Reports

Cloud Telephony with/out "Host your Trunks" option

and End to End CRM on the cards we are supposed to grow exponentially within the next 6 Months

Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.

Cloud IT Services GmbH

Dialfire offers you a complete call center solution that is simple and intuitive to use and adapts to your needs. It's completely cloud-based, saving you the hassle of setting up a phone system and installing software. In addition to predictive dialing and call blending of inbound calls, you can create personalized campaigns through an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. Features include automated workflows and full control over the agent screen.

You can see the full list of features here:

ComSys S.A.

CList for Outbound Campaigns Management
CList by Comsys is an application that helps contact centers enhance the performance of their outbound campaigns. It accomplishes that by enabling the planning and execution of sophisticated communication strategies. Additionally, the AI-powered module of CList extends the possibilities of outbound campaigns delivering unprecedented results.
Comsys is a provider of οmnichannel customer engagement solutions that assist companies around the world in delivering unique customer experiences. For the last 15 years, Comsys designs and implements complex projects for clients from the outsourcing, financial services, telecommunications, and retail sectors. Comsys enjoys strategic partnerships with t...
(read more)

Consilium Software

Consilium UniCampaign™
Reaching the right person with the right information on the right channel at the right time is a tall order. That’s the power the new Consilium UniCampaign™ has been adding to Cisco outbound contact centers, easily tripling or quadrupling results, from improving digital customer acquisition to managing post-sale customer relationship. Delivering proactive outbound engagement in a game-changer product, Consilium UniCampaign™ is an omnichannel List and Campaign Management (LCM) solution which complements the strength and robustness of Cisco's Outbound Dialer with the implementation of multichannel (voice, email, and SMS) outbound contact strategies. The new 7th release of UniCampaign™ is des...
(read more)


Dialer software that makes customer contact pain free, so your team aren’t worried about complex technology and can focus on what they do best. Dramatically increase agent productivity using a variety of dialers, combined with AI, leveraging data-driven contact strategies to ensure the right agent is contacting your customers at the right time.

Take control, and ensure your team are on-message by designing the perfect agent interface with a drag-n-drop visual WYSWYG editor.

Rotate CLIDs, and auto-wrap certain calls to ensure maximum agent productivity and performance.


Genesys PureConnect
Genesys PureEngage

Cloud IT Services GmbH

Companies of all sizes rely on the cloud-based call center platform Dialfire and its powerful predictive dialer. Dialfire is ready to use within minutes and easily personalizable. From small ad-hoc to large multi-step campaigns, Dialfire offers high scalability. Adapt customer masks and automate workflows per mouse click. Integrated scripting and APIs ensure a smooth connection with external systems.


With Megadialer you will get a customized call center software. With the creation of personalized questions, surveys and sales script you will have the information you need from your customers quickly and efficiently. Improve the performance of your agents with a 100% online contact center, real-time analytics and predictive dialer to optimize the time between one call and another.

All rates include:
Instant Call Reports
On-Demand Recording
Call Supervisor
Call Layout after Completion
Your Own Caller ID
Call Monitor
Automatic Re-Calls
Automatic sending of Mails
Incoming Call Management
Real-time Activity Panels
Call Lists for Agents
Different Levels of Administration


Advanced outbound solution including predictive dialing, featuring patented technologies such as Live Person Detection (LPD™) and SNoDrop™ using Artificial Intelligence to deliver compliant & effective predictive dialing with 0% abandoned call rates. The solution includes its own CRM system as well as visual campaign creation and management as well as automated data import and export capabilities. The package comes with highly visual and open call scripting technology and an SDK (Software Development Kit) is also available for embedding the dialer into your own user front end.

Nuxiba Technologies

Discover Nuxiba's all-in-one dialer solutions. Either predictive or automatic, our software adapts to your business needs with a powerful and easy-to-use system. We offer TCPA compliance options, so you never have to worry about issues with the law and PCI Data Security so you can protect your cardholder's data information during every call.

Stop worrying about technicalities and focus on the most valuable aspect: giving the best service and customer experience with our intuitive features. All of our features and modules are fully adaptable to any business needs.

Obtain the benefits of using software fully tailored to your business, start saving money, and boosting your productivity.


Reach more contacts, in less time with PhoneBurner. Powering thousands of client and millions of calls, our cloud-based software eliminate repetitive tasks so agents have up to 4x more live conversations. Unlike other dialers, PhoneBurner delivers 100% delay-free connections with no awkward pause. Conversations start off with promise, not hangups.

- Call 60-80 contacts per hour, per agent
- Instantly leave voicemails
- Send 1-touch emails
- Automate workflows and call logging
- Record and transfer calls
- Access reporting and analytics
- Intelligently distribute leads
- Dial from local Caller IDs
- Get free white-glove onboarding

Scales to any size team with no contracts, no setup fees, and no per minute charges. Start a free trial without a credit card.


Predictive Dialler
A predictive dialler is an outbound call system that automatically dials from a list of telephone numbers. Also known as Power or Auto dialers it will automatically help agents make more calls, generate higher rates of connections, increase conversions, manage voicemail, no-answers and disconnected numbers.

We’ve made it easy to get started, we offer packages to best suit your needs and don't tie you into long term contracts. Don't take our word for it take out a no-commitment free trial!

Teckinfo Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

InterDialog UCCS
The InterDialog Dialer is an independent & intelligent auto dialer software that controls the outbound calls using various algorithms. This call center dialer works as Predictive Dialer Software, Progressive Dialer Software, Preview Dialer Software or Power Dialer Software based on the requirement of the process. It allows the system to create groups/caller lists and then dials out to multiple calling groups/lists at the same time, thus helping target a wider market segment in a shorter period of time.

The predictive dialer software and automatic dialer algorithms used by the InterDialog Dialer are designed to improve efficiency by lowering the wait time, the number of dropped calls and t...
(read more)

Tru29 Outsource Solutions Inc.

Custom Outsourced Solutions
Tru29 Solutions tailor fits a dialer solution that will truly suit your needs.


Voiptime Contact Center
Our contact center solution allows processing the high volume of client requests from different channels (voice, webchat, email, web callbacks), running massive outbound dialing campaigns, and makes all call center operations visible for management. Voiptime Cloud Contact Center is a professional calling solution for outbound and inbound calls. It’s a plug-and-play software that immediately increases the productivity of your call center department. With the help of our solution you are able to:
- Automate lead prospecting and have 4x more live conversations daily;
- Increase the agent occupancy up to 80-90% with the help of the fastest Predictive dialer;
- Smooth out the peaks of calls by...
(read more)

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