How To Conduct An Effective Customer Service Performance Review
Conducting an impactful customer service performance review sets the stage not just for the evaluation and growth of your team members but can also identify larger trends within your support strategy.
However, many pieces make up an individual’s customer support career development, and it can get difficult to track them regularly. You’ve got performance metrics to pay attention to, career growth, and paths of interest for your customer service representatives. You’ve also got to check how your agents influence individual customer relationships.
That’s why you need periodic performance reviews that fairly evaluate a customer service agent’s contributions to the team and help them stay engaged at their jobs.
In this post, we’ve covered the five essential steps to conduct an effective customer service performance evaluation, what you can write in a performance review for your agents, and helpful review phrases that you can use in an evaluation comment. Use the below links to navigate to the section of your choice.
- What is a customer service performance review?
- Why is customer service performance review important?
- How to evaluate a customer service employee?
- What should you write in a customer service performance review?
- Empathetic performance review phrases to use in an agent review comment
Before we jump in, let’s first talk about what a performance review in customer service is and why it’s important to have performance management in support.
A customer service performance review, also known as performance evaluation, is a structured employee feedback process to assess how a customer service representative has contributed to the business during a specific period, identifying their strengths and challenges for future opportunities and growth in their career.
A performance review is the perfect time to,
- Track progress on predetermined goals
- Acknowledge an agent’s achievements
- Identify gaps and setbacks in employee performance
- Realign your team to changing business objectives
- Suggest training and development plans as needed
The evaluation process isn’t necessarily only an annual event but can be done on a monthly or quarterly basis to have more impactful discussions and course-correct along the way. As an efficient customer service manager, having regular check-ins and reviews with your team of support agents is an absolute win-win for both your team and your organization. Read on to know why.
Though assessing and scheduling review discussions regularly with your agents would take a big chunk of your time, the rewards of the process are manifold.
– Boosts agent retention: When you give your team opportunities for growth, you support them in their career path, and when you have regular customer support performance reviews, you get to keep them on your support team longer. Expressing interest to know your agents’ day-to-day challenges, opportunities to improve, and suggesting training as needed, indicate that you care for your team. When you talk regularly about performance and coach your employees, they see that there is a real-time investment in support, and it makes them encouraged for their own career to be moving forward, rather than constantly looking for ways to jump ship.
– Engaged agents make happy customers: A HBR survey reveals that 54% of respondents point to better employee engagement for happier customers. Employees who get regular feedback from their managers are three times more likely to be engaged in their work than those who have only annual reviews. Agents who have these ongoing conversations about their performance are more aligned to the company goals and know exactly what they need to work on for achieving greater customer satisfaction.
– Raises the game of your whole team: According to HBR, everyone plays a “functional role, based on their formal position and technical skill, and a psychological role, based on the kind of person they are.” By managing the customer support agents on your team, you can help move forward both in their functional roles and their psychological ones, subsequently leveling up your team in two different ways. Keeping a balance between the two will give you the most highly functioning team possible.
– Helps maintain a consistent and superior CX: Going through the process of customer support performance review, you can ensure consistency and quality across your support responses and documentation, which in turn improves the overall customer experience you deliver. In your conversations with direct reports, ensure that you talk about their ticket history and what they would potentially do to improve internal processes, leading to good customer service.
– Map the right talent to the right support role: As you go through customer service employee evaluation more regularly and talk with more of your employees, you will begin to get a sense of who is performing above par and who could perform better. That means that, ideally, the more frequently and regularly you conduct these customer support career development conversations, the more often the right person would be matched with the right job.
Now that you know why you should perform customer service reviews, let’s talk about what performance management actually looks like for a customer service team. Here are five steps to help you in the evaluation process of a customer service rep.
1. Set clear goals for agent success and growth
An impactful employee performance evaluation doesn’t happen just over those one-on-one conversations that you have with your direct reports but begins much earlier when you set goals for your agents. Establishing measurable and realistic customer service goals keeps the expectations clear for a service rep and sets them up for success in their role. You’ll then have a yardstick to measure an agent’s performance while conducting the review.
An example of an agent goal would be to ‘lower the average first response time by 20%’.
Make sure to communicate these expectations and targets well in advance and frequently so that your agents know what to prioritize and execute.
Related resource: A beginner’s guide to defining customer service goals
2. Align agent objectives with company goals
Performance management in customer support should always focus on objectives that align with your company goals. Your business might have a distinct customer service philosophy or principles that your agents should be well-aware of. Aligning employees with these principles and goals makes them feel like an integral part of the business and reinforces the belief in support agents that they have an impact on what happens with the company. So, when thinking about making your support team’s goals, align them with the company’s overarching ones to create a deeper alignment and a sense of purpose for your team.
3. List business-appropriate customer service performance metrics
Also known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), defining team-level performance metrics for your customer support function makes your goals and targets more specific, measurable, and time-bound. While some types of businesses may emphasize faster responses, other companies might concentrate on efficient resolutions. Depending on the nature of your business, it is vital to determine the exact KPIs that you’ll be measuring your team against. Note that the benchmarks for these metrics would differ according to the channel type (email, phone, chat, or social media) and issue complexity.
Here are a few customer service performance metrics you can use for your support team.
- Average Resolution Time: Average resolution time is the total time taken to resolve a ticket, divided by the number of tickets resolved in the selected time period. This tells you how quickly an agent is resolving their issues in their entirety.
- Average Response Time: This is the total time taken to respond during the selected time period divided by the number of responses in the selected time period. This is important because it shows how long your agent, on average, is taking to respond to their customers.
- First Contact Resolution: This metric shows how frequently your agent is able to resolve their interaction in a single reply, thus offering the best experience for the customer.
- Resolution SLA: The total number of tickets resolved within SLA indicates the efficiency of your agents. When you see this metric dropping or not picking up for your agents, maybe it’s time to revisit their training or help them upskill, or provide them with better resources to close tickets.
- Number of tickets resolved per month: This count directly measures your customer service agent’s productivity. Consider the ticket assignment rules before you assess your agents based on this metric. Complex customer requests take longer to resolve, and hence the number of tickets wouldn’t give you a fair picture to assess.
- Number of interactions per ticket: The ratio of customer responses to agent replies denotes how efficiently an agent can close a support ticket. An ideal agent response rate highlights your agents’ strong communication and problem-solving skills.
Related resource: 11 crucial customer service KPIs you need to track
4. Encourage agents to write a self-evaluation
While managers provide their review of customer service representatives, self-evaluation gives an agent the chance to look back at their performance, analyze, and gather data to support their contributions towards business growth. Customer service self-evaluation is the agent’s assessment of their individual performance—achievements, learnings, and challenges—over a specific period.
Self-assessment helps you and your reports stay in sync regarding the expectations and the contributions towards their individual roles in the team. These evaluations also enable you to move more meaningful and effective performance review conversations with your team members.
5. Map future career paths and plans
As a mentor and leader in support, you can spend some time talking about the possible career paths that an agent can take in the future during the performance reviews. This is of more significance in the field of customer service, where employees tend to switch to other functions like sales or marketing after trying their hands at customer support. In support, there are three paths that an agent can take: technical leadership, people leadership, or operational leadership.
- Technical growth usually means moving from a support specialist to a support engineer or taking other technical roles such as building or evaluating tools, requiring more hard skills and techniques.
- An operational role would be suitable for someone excited about a support team’s daily operations, including managing all documentation or being in charge of creating and enforcing new internal processes.
- People leadership in customer support involves taking up roles like team leads and managers who facilitate better productivity and work engagement among agents in their team.
Bringing up future career plans in your review conversations helps you coach and mentor your team in the right direction.
Related resource: Building a career in customer service
Giving helpful and constructive feedback during a performance evaluation is an art by itself. Your agents should leave the evaluation discussion with actionable information that they can continue or start working on in the coming days.
Don’t offer general feedback; be specific on behaviors you want your employee to stop, start, and continue. – Harvard Business Review
Here are some tips to help you write an impactful customer service performance review.
- Avoid vague and generic feedback. Be extremely specific while talking about the agent’s strengths and weaknesses. You can do this by quoting examples from the agent’s past performance and using numbers to back your statements.
- Call out distinct customer service skills, including problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills that exhibit an agent’s behavior.
- Provide honest(not sugarcoated) feedback on areas an agent should improve.
- Suggest tactical tips for the service rep to overcome certain challenges.
- End the review on a positive note, speaking about the agent’s future career growth and opportunities.
Take a look at an example of a performance review comment that provides comprehensive feedback for support agents.
|Example of a customer service performance review comment
"Jamie has proven to be an empathetic and expert communicator in the past quarter, enabling us to close more tickets with high customer satisfaction scores of 95% and above.
His ability to actively listen and respond with the right information to customers has helped him achieve a stellar FCR rate of 89% in the past quarter. Jamie’s persistence to go the distance for customers was evident when he collaborated with multiple internal teams to close a critical issue for one of our VIP customers—(customer A). Thanks to him, we were able to get a customer effort score of 1/5 and a CSAT score of 5/5 for that particular support ticket.
One area where Jamie can improve further is his grasp of the company’s products. I recommend that he spend an hour going through our product training modules every week. This will help him solve tickets with lesser dependence on other team members and achieve faster resolutions.
Overall, Jamie meets all the expectations of his role and exceeds our expectations now and then, adding immense value to the team."
Your choice of words in a performance review comment can either build up your team or leave them demotivated, disengaged, or even confused! Here are some customer service performance review phrases to get you started.
Meets or exceeds expectations:
- Exhibited genuine customer care by deliberately using empathy statements in all customer interactions.
- Effectively handled tough customer service interactions for <task name>.
- Maintains a warm rapport with coworkers and doesn’t hesitate to ask for help to resolve customer issues collaboratively.
- Expert in cross-functional collaboration to drive resolutions.
- Actively listens and provides the necessary support in a minimal number of interactions, achieving an FCR rate of <n%>.
- Quickly acknowledges customer concerns with an average first response time of <n%>.
- Provides valuable suggestions for internal process improvements.
- Stays calm and sensible even with difficult customers, achieving a happiness rating of <n> in <n%> of the tickets resolved.
- Negotiated efficiently with <customer A> to arrive at a win-win solution for the customer and the business.
- Provides polite and knowledgeable help, achieving high customer satisfaction scores of <n%>.
- Must learn to be more calm and patient with angry customers.
- Hesitant in extending help to coworkers for issue resolution.
- Doesn’t ask follow-up questions to gain more clarity in understanding customer problems.
- Doesn’t speak up in team meetings to share recommendations and opinions.
- Should learn to say no politely yet firmly to certain customer demands.
- Requires more domain knowledge to understand customer needs accurately.
Customer support is an industry that suffers the most from a lack of alignment in terms of performance expectations and career growth. By aligning upwards and setting your team’s expectations properly with measurable standards, you can set up a robust customer service performance evaluation process that enhances your work environment and shows a clear growth plan for your team.
To further boost agent performance and set them up for long-term success, you can empower them with robust, easy-to-use customer service software like Freshdesk. Agent-friendly features such as canned responses and in-ticket team huddles help provide speedy resolutions. You’ll soon have a high-performing, incredible team of support agents focused on delighting customers and crushing it at their jobs.
Updated on April 5, 2022