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The Power of Focusing on Your Middle-Performing CSRs

Managing a large group of call center agents with varying skill levels is not easy. If only all your customer service reps were really great at their job! Unfortunately, that is not generally the case. Most groups of agents could be graded on a curve, with clear highs, lows, and middle performers.  

To boost overall performance, managers tend to zero in their two easiest targets — the best and least productive folks. It is easy to praise and reward your top performers because it only motivates them more. And it may seem like the lower performing agents are low hanging fruit, where any improvement from that group would move the needle.

However, let’s think for a moment about your middle-performing reps. Like the proverbial middle child, they tend to be ignored. But overlooking them may mean you are missing what might be your biggest and best opportunity to improve performance and thereby customer satisfaction. In fact, the Harvard Business Review recommends not just remembering your average performers but focusing your improvement efforts on them.

Why Focus on Your Middle-Performing CSRs?

Ignoring those in the middle allows them to remain average. That does not help customers, and it does not help your bottom line. It can even send a negative message to those agents actively trying to improve their work, suggesting that quality is not important. If average is OK, why bother to do more?

The problem with average is that it gives your customers the opportunity to find a better experience elsewhere, turning them into a lost customer (and therefore lost revenue).

Plus, consistency is critical. The goal is for every Agent is to deliver essentially the same, HIGH QUALITY experience, because a Customer who receives reliable service is a much more reliable Customer! Let’s not “wow” him/her one moment, and disappoint the next.

How Can You Lift Up Your Middle Performers?

Of course, you want to continue encouraging, training, and rewarding your top reps so they will keep up the good work. But also give your top reps an opportunity to share the wealth.  

  • Invite your best reps to help mentor and train their co-workers, especially newer people who don’t have the same level of company and product knowledge.
  • Fostering an atmosphere of teamwork rather than only focusing on individual competition will encourage everyone to do better and reach common goals. So, encourage your Agents to share the ideas and approaches that are helping them deliver great customer service experiences.
  • Coaches should feel empowered to spend more time doing side-by-sides with middle performers. This is the group that will most appreciate the attention, and will most likely respond positively. If you have automated speech analytics, you may well see improvements on a daily basis as a result of these side-by-side sessions.

Keep Helping Those Who Need it Most

Most people want to do a good job; some simply need more guidance and attention than others. By focusing on your middle performers while continuing to support and involve the best and narrowing the field of low performers, you can develop a team that delivers higher quality and more consistent customer service experiences. With the right combination of training, coaching, and positive feedback, your customers will be happy with the results.

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