south park, minecraft, customer service, comcastLike the hundreds of thousands before me, last week I found myself calling into Comcast’s customer service department to complain about the 2-3 Mbps out of 50 Mbps Internet speed I was receiving (a painfully regular experience).  First time, the representative disconnected from my call unprovoked. Next time, they set up an appointment for a technician to stop by my house between 3 and 5 (he showed up at 5:45 and didn’t fix the low speed problem). After, I started a chat with an online rep who, after maybe 10 minutes, disconnected from the chat and marked the issued “resolved” (I assure you it most definitely wasn’t resolved). I tell you, it’s a miracle I can even post this piece with Comcast’s unbearable Internet service. Not to be outdone by the wretched Internet connection, the rest of Comcast’s customer service team exists only to compete against its own internet service in tug of war battle to determine which is the absolute worst with the customer as the flag in the middle of the rope getting raked through the mud. The experience had me thinking, how do these horrible representatives get evaluated? How, after years and years of complaints, even allegations of consumer fraud, do we still experience this poor of service from such a large corporation hellbent on creating a new brand image of reliability?  To maintain an excellent customer service department, it is important that you have a series of steps in place for evaluating the performance of individual representatives. Here’s how to evaluate a customer service representative:

Step One: Determine Your Criteria for Evaluation

There are no hard rules when it comes to evaluating a customer service representative. For some companies, their biggest priority is not necessarily call volume, but rather the results of customer satisfaction surveys. Other companies might put some emphasis on their post-call surveys, but their main focus is on employing customer service reps who can handle a large volume of calls quickly and efficiently.

Before you begin your evaluation procedure, it’s important to determine which qualities are most important to you as an employer. While you should certainly look at both call times and customer satisfaction, you should identify which of these is your biggest priority.

Step Two: Create a Call Time Spreadsheet

To evaluate call time, you need to have a system in place that creates an easy-to-read spreadsheet that shows you how long calls took and how many calls a representative was able to handle in an hour. No two companies will have the same preference for call times. Some companies do not deal with complicated matters and therefore expect their customer representatives to handle many calls in an hour. For technology or financial institutions, however, calls that last for over an hour are not uncommon.

It is ultimately crucial that you have a system in place that allows you to easily track how long your customer service reps are spending on the phone and how many calls, on average, they can handle in an hour.

Step Three: Analyze Customer Feedback

It is imperative that your company conducts regular customer satisfaction surveys in order to analyze your customer service department. For example, you may have a customer service representative who processes few calls in an hour, but who receives only stellar reviews from the customers that he or she assists. In that scenario, you have a representative who may not be fast, but who pays attention to detail and truly handles customer inquiries.

Alternatively, you might find that you have a representative who handles a large volume of calls in short time spans, but who consistently receives poor marks on customer satisfaction surveys. In that scenario, you have a representative who is more interested in getting their call time numbers up than they are in actually helping your customers.

Step Four: Listen to Calls

While survey and call time data is invaluable in an evaluation, nothing beats actually listening to a call for yourself. When listening to a call, listen for whether or not the representative is following the company-approved script. Monitor the representative’s tone and determine if they are consistently polite when dealing with callers. Listening to calls where a customer became angry or upset is an invaluable tool in an observation. The ability to remain calm and polite when dealing with an irate customer is one of the most important traits that a customer service representative can possess.

Step Five: Talk to the Employee

The final step in any customer service representative evaluation is actually sitting down and talking to the employee. This won’t be where you analyze their performance, but rather where you are able to directly listen to the representative’s opinions about their own job performance and future with the company.

This will also be where you address any concerns that you found during the course of the evaluation. Not every representative will score excellently in all categories, as there is no such thing as a perfect employee. However, it is during this one-on-one meeting where you will be able to address specific concerns. If the employee is receptive and eager to grow with your company, you will find that they make the corrections you suggest and improve over the coming months. If not, it may be time to reconsider the individual’s employment with your organization.