Balanced scorecard can be applied to a call center just like every other business. Call centres is an example of a business that deals with providing services which makes it more difficult to measure performance. Traditional performance appraisal methods that focuses mostly on financial factors tends to encourage suboptimal activities by customer care representatives working in a call center. This article is written as a response to a question that was put to me by one of my friends who is currently doing his MBA in one of the top leading business schools.
The idea of a balanced scorecard (BSC) is to strike a balance between financial and non financial performance indicators. In a conventional business, this is a process that is demanding enough to consume the time of decision makers without much to show for it. This problem is even made worse in a call center where call center agents are measured with more abstract performance measure, for example average call handling time. This poses a problem of call center agents trying to beat the system by focusing more on keeping their average call handling time low.
HOW TO INTEGRATE BALANCES SCORECARD IN PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT OF CALL STAFF
Balanced scorecard (BSC) is a performance measurement tool that seeks to shift the concept of performance measurement away from pure financial indicators as many traditional performance measurement tools propose. Because a balanced scorecard is a tool that translates a company’s mission as contained in the mission statement into a well thought out sets of performance measures that provides a framework for implementing the strategic plan of a company, every care should be taken at the design stage to ensure that a strong link is established between the targets, KPIs, objectives and overall strategy of a company.
BSC is based on four perspectives, VIZ: Financial perspective, Customer perspective, internal business perspective, Innovation and Learning perspective. The rest of this article will discuss ways of leveraging on these four perspectives of a functional BSC to successfully design and develop a workable performance appraisal scheme in a call center.
Applying financial perspective of BSC in a call center: here, the profitability of a strategy is evaluated. The strategy behind establishing most call centres is to leverage on the contact made with customers to generate a lead that might possibly lead to sale of additional product or service which ultimately improves operating income. Managers and call center agents will be measured against an established target that is carefully designed to meet the objective of a company would subsequently help the company achieve its mission. The target could for instance be an agreed conversion percentage of any sales opportunities. Most CRM softwares in the market now are intelligent enough to display sales opportunity information on the workstation of an agent.
Applying customer perspective of BSC in a call center: this perspective is a component of the BSC that aims at indentifying targeted market segment and then measure a company’s success in meeting the set target. Customer perspective is a building block of financial perspective in the sense that customers are still king. Financial objectives no matter how efficiently set cannot be achieved if a business cannot attract and retain its customers. A call center agent might be measured on the number of customers that make complaint or cancel their account after speaking to an agent. This is an area that is largely based on the nature of the trade or service that the company is into. Care should be taken not to evaluate staffs on metrics that is outside his or her control. A call center agent will obviously employ dubious technique to beat the system if punished for cancelling an account of a disgruntled customer. Customer care agent that senses from the tone of a customer he or she wants to cancel an account will be tempted to end the call. Though controls are in place to mitigate against this kind of behaviour but, the cost of monitoring every call that an agent takes will definitely outweigh the benefit of call monitoring.
Applying internal business perspective of BSC in a call centre: the internal business process supports both the customer perspectives by improving customer experience and financial perspective by safeguarding the assets of an organization which in turn makes it possible the long term strategic goal of the company to be met. The objective for a call center under this perspective should be to continually improve the quality of every call, this might require implementing sound change management. For example, customer service agents should be hitting 90% or above on every call. Managers or customer excellence coordinators will pick calls at random to ensure that agents don’t only put in their best in only calls that are monitored. A script containing the list of criterion that agents are measured on should be made available to every agent.
Applying the innovation and learning perspective of BSC in a call centre: the aim of this perspective is to identify the strengths that a business must cultivate in order to excel in order perspective then work towards gaining those capabilities. The objective should be to equip all employees with the right set of skills needed to consistently deliver high customer service on every call. Management should set a target of organising some training and coaching sessions. This will be measure by the quality of feedback that the agent gives to the manager or whoever is responsible for the coaching session. The feedback should be a two way process.
These perspectives that we have looked at in the preceding paragraph cannot working in silos. They need to be linked using a strategic map. A strategic map is a tool that managers use to establish a solid link between variables. It is the function of management to effectively link key indicators in these perspectives in such a way that there won’t be any conflicting objective between the perspectives.
Balanced scorecard can be applied to practically any kind of business as shown in this article. One good thing about balanced scorecard is that it is a flexible tool that can be tweaked to suit the peculiar need of any given business or even a business process. The application of balance scorecard in a call center environment is even made easier today as many customer relations management (CRM) software now have the capability of capturing both financial and other non financial metrics used to effectively measure the performance of a call center agent or manager.