Effectively Measuring the Performance of a Remote Workforce

With the rapid shift to a Work-From-Home (WFH) environment in early 2020 due to the pandemic, a common question we have been asked is: “Which NEW metrics should we be tracking with a remote workforce?”

The short answer to this question is that there really are no new or unique metrics specific to a remote workforce. When you think about it, agents are performing the same tasks, so service, quality, cost, and customer satisfaction are all still important. However, there are certainly some nuances when measuring the performance of a remote workforce, as discussed below. Please note that this is not a complete list of metrics one should measure with WFH agents, but rather a snapshot of some nuances to consider for some key metrics.

Quality – Monitoring customer interactions and measuring quality is always important, whether transactions are handled in-center or remotely. One area that leaders have told us they have added to their call quality criteria is background noise. This would not be considered an “agent error,” but would be tracked and measured to identify any persistent issues related to background noise impacting the quality of the call.

Mean Opinion Score (MOS) – Related to call quality criteria collected via call monitoring, some leaders are reporting an increased use of MOS which is a measure of voice (or VoIP) quality and is used to assess the human users’ opinion of call quality. It is an automated metric based on an algorithmic estimate relying on transport measures such as bandwidth, jitter, packet loss, and latency.

Lost Hours – Measuring and managing lost hours in a remote environment is critical. It is not uncommon to lose hours with a mainly WFH workforce, so the ability to track, measure, and manage is of greater emphasis to maximize productivity and ensure service levels are achieved.

Schedule Conformance – Schedule adherence is a common contact center metric. With remote staff, focusing on schedule conformance is equally important. For example, you could have agents that adhere to their schedule for the day, but they take a longer lunch. This is more difficult to manage remotely but can have a significant impact on service levels if not actively monitored and managed. With regards to schedule adherence itself, it is also important to avoid being overly focused on this metric as some employees tend to skip their lunch or breaks to be right on time, which is not always healthy for employees.

Unproductive Internet Time – Some companies report loss of productivity due to WFH agents spending time on websites that don’t contribute to their work. This should be measured at the agent level and taking the appropriate actions by managing agents accordingly and/or restricting access. One leader reported that they found thousands of hours spent on social media or other similar sites.

WI-FI Speeds – Measuring and tracking internet speeds to the agent level at their place of work (whether at home or another offsite location) is becoming more important. If internet speeds are not sufficient, it has obvious consequences such as latency issues, inability to service customers, and inability to access some or all of an agent’s toolbox. Additionally, measuring technology latency, uptime, and response times are important.

As discussed in this article, a balanced set of the right metrics (i.e., resolution rate, escalation/transfer rates, drop rates, productivity, service levels, adherence, quality, and customer satisfaction) are always important, but there are other aspects to consider when managing to those metrics in a remote environment.

Connecting the Dots – Understand the complete story the metrics are telling you. For example, if your Average Handle Time (AHT) is dropping (which could be considered a good thing if viewed in a silo), but your escalation rates are increasing, then you could have an issue with agents inappropriately escalating or transferring.

Live Coaching – This cannot be stated enough, but one-on-one live coaching via face-to-face technology is critical. In a remote environment it can be easy to revert to ineffective coaching practices, so leaders must remain vigilant and require a structured approach to coaching and feedback with a live connection. This is important not only for performance management, but for the mental health and well-being of agents.

Focus on Belonging and Inclusion – Key performance metrics are important and should always be measured and managed. However, leaders should remain focused on ensuring the organization also focuses on driving a positive culture, providing everyone with a genuine sense of belonging, achievement, and connection.

The great news for contact center leaders is that there are no new metrics you necessarily need to implement with a remote workforce. There are some areas you may want to focus on more than others, or some metrics you may look at a little differently to account for the nuances of your WFH staff. As always, the metrics do not tell the whole story – you need to connect the dots to have a full understanding of what they are telling you so you can take the right action. At the same time, ensure your coaching and management approaches create a culture of continuous improvement, while maintaining a sense of belonging and connection.


Blog post, written by: Execs In The Know