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Article : Setting the Right Goals for Call Center Teams


Author: Marc Carriere, Managing Director, Marketing Tactics Pty Ltd

What do you do when your team isn’t regularly meeting the goals you set - get out the whip or start cracking heads to put pressure on everyone to step up until they finally start hitting them?

A lot of senior management and call center managers do that, which causes a lot of serious damage to the team and can really hurt the company’s reputation as an employer, and its brand generally. If your team isn’t regularly hitting its goals, the solution may lay in redefining your goals.

Over the past 35 years I’ve been running call centers and having owned a call center myself, believe me, I know firsthand the stress and frustration you feel when your team isn’t regularly hitting their goals!

Over the years I’ve done a lot of consulting with businesses coaching and mentoring their call centers managers and team leaders to help them get their team regularly hitting their monthly goals and KPIs. When businesses call me to help them sort this out, the first thing I do is drill down to find out why the team isn’t regularly hitting their numbers.

Every time I do, I typically find a ‘disconnect’ between the goals and the poor skill set of the majority of the team. Usually, less than 20% of team members are regularly hitting or exceeding their goals. 30 to 40% hit them sporadically or are close most months, while the rest of the team is way off.

Those that are way off are usually new team members and still learning, so it’s not realistic to expect them to regularly hit the goals or targets you’d expect from your seasoned pros.

However, with goal setting most operations take a top down approach and divide the total goal by the number of team members and set the target equally among all the team members regardless of their skill set.

The thinking is: Well, we need to achieve a total of X every day as a team and everyone should be able to achieve X per day themselves. And, some of the team is doing better than that, so it shouldn’t be too hard.

If you’re setting your individual team goals this way, let me ask you - how’s that been working for you?

The better way to go is to take a bottom up approach by assigning realistic goals or targets for each team member based on their current skill set.

To do that, the first thing you need to do is conduct a Skills Audit on all your team members to identify their competency against all the elements of your call structure, processes and systems and other areas like product knowledge.

After you’ve completed your skills audit you’ll have a clear understanding of how competent each team members is overall and, based on their skill level at this point in time, you can set realistic stretch goals that they should be able to achieve.

And, this is important – be sure to get their buy in and commitment to hitting their goals!

Of course, you’ll also know which areas they'll need coaching and training in, so you can set up Coaching Plans to help them acquire the skills they need. And, as they improve their skill set, you can raise their goals appropriately.

Remember, generally speaking around 20 to 40% of your team members are regularly hitting their targets or coming close to them every month. So, you need to have a good look at what they usually achieve and set their goals at a reasonable level that they’ll have to stretch to reach.

Then set each team member their goal on a realistic expectation of achievement based on their skill level and recent performance then add it all up to determine the overall team goal.

Just make sure everyone’s goal is high enough (but not too high) that they’ll need to stretch a little to achieve it; otherwise if they feel their goal is too high they just won’t put in the effort to achieve it.

Now I hear some of you thinking to yourself: Sounds good but what happens if the team goal is still short of what the senior management team expects?

Good question! Here’s what you do if you find yourself in that situation.

The first thing to remember is that your bosses are acutely aware the team hasn’t been regularly hitting its targets. It won’t come as a surprise to them, will it?

What I do is sit down with the management team and show them the Skills Audit I conducted with the call center management team so they have a clear understanding of the team’s overall competency.

Then we show them how we’ve set individual stretch goals for each team member based on their skill level and recent performance and got each team member’s commitment on their target.

After that we show them the coaching plans we’ll be putting in place for each team member to improve their skills, so they’ll be continuously improving and as they do, we’ll be increasing their targets.

You want the senior managers to feel confident you’ve identified the problem areas for each of your team members, have set realistic stretch goals for every team member that they’ve bought into, and will be implementing coaching plans to help them improve.

They may not be happy about a lower goal; however, they’ll generally accept it. But you need to deliver on the targets you said you would, so make sure you follow through effectively on your coaching plans!


About Marc Carriere:
With worldwide executive experience managing Call Centre teams that have won 3 Silver and 3 Gold ‘Ardy’ awards, consulting with businesses mentoring and coaching their Call Centre Leaders and having owned a call centre himself, Marc is well aware of the difficulties Call Centres face consistently meeting their monthly targets.

About Marketing Tactics Pty Ltd:
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Today's Tip of the Day - Customers Wary Of Fraud Calls

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Published: Wednesday, July 21, 2021

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2023 Buyers Guide Call Routing Optimization

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L&A provides consulting services to optimize contact centers, including call routing, skills-based routing, and multi-location routing. The firm's senior consultants have several decades of experience each in this area and work with all vendors' systems. L&A's president pioneered skills-based routing.

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