April 12, 2018 by Matt Beatty

Agent Productivity: The Good, The Bad, The Cherry Pickers

Let’s face it… you have a sense of who your productive agents are.

Wouldn’t you love some clear metrics to confirm your gut instincts (or maybe show you something that might be obscured)?


Sure, your team comes to work every day, clocks in on time, answer some calls, talks about how their mothers-in-law drive them crazy, works some more, then goes home.


But are your employees meeting their goals? Creating a fantastic customer experience for every caller? Saving the company some cash through their efficiency?


This short video shows you exactly how you can answer these questions and get a full picture (beyond just how many calls they’ve answered) on how your agents are actually doing.



Not into videos? Here’s the same info for all my readers:

There are two metrics that are vital to track agent productivity: Average Handle Time and Percentage of Calls Transferred.


The first one is Average Handle Time. It is the average total engagement time with a customer. You can get this number by adding up total talk time, hold time, and wrap time.


Percentage of Calls Transferred is the second metric to watch. This is exactly what it sounds like: how frequently they are transferring your callers elsewhere.


Sure, knowing how long your agents are spending on every call is important and knowing how often they transfer calls also hold a lot of value, but how can you bring both of these metrics together to understand how productive your employees actually are?


One thing to note is that what looks “good” is going to vary depending on your organization.


Take this example:

I am a call center leader managing two teams: an operator group and a customer service group.


When looking at the percentage of calls transferred, the number I want my team to meet is going to differ depending on what group I’m looking at.


So, if the operator group’s percentage of calls transferred was in the high 70’s, I would applaud the team. Essentially, this team would be expected to transfer most of the calls they answer. Handling about 20% of the calls without involving another department would be a huge accomplishment.


If I were a really fabulous manager, I’d probably buy the team some donuts to say, “Y’all are great, thanks for your hard work, don’t eat more than 2 maple bars in one sitting- you’ll probably feel like trash.”


But if I were the leader of a customer service group who transferred callers 70% of the time…






Yikes… My customer service group - whose primary job function would be to provide service to customers- might receive the, “I’m not mad, just disappointed…but if I’m being honest, I’m mad,” speech. They would receive 0 donuts.


This would be the perfect time for me to take a moment in Brightmetrics™ and pull up the Percentage of Calls Transferred and Average Queue Time for individual agents of the group.


Then I can identify who is doing well, who needs more training, and who might do better in performing other job functions by categorizing my agents and inserting them into the matrix below.



Here’s How to Interpret the Results

A high handle time and a high percentage of calls transferred:

These individuals are likely newbies to the game. They are spending long periods of time on the phone but are unable to handle requests and transfer often. It would be best to invest in some training for these agents and see if there is anything you can do to help them get up to speed. 


A high average handle time and a low percentage of calls transferred:

These agents are in a good place. They may spend a little bit longer on the phone, but don’t escalate often. So, as long as these agents aren’t spending longer on the phone than necessary for them to do their job well, do your best keep them around.


A low handle time and a high percentage of calls transferred:

We identify these agents as cherry pickers.  They spend a short amount of time with customers and transfer often as they can- only taking on the calls they desire to handle. Yikes (round two). Try to remediate this problem quickly as its likely that they’re cohorts are picking up the slack for these individuals.


A low average handle time and a low percentage of calls transferred:

Keep an eye on them… Look into their customer satisfaction metrics or sales numbers- sometimes not spending enough time on the phone can be a negative thing. Callers may become frustrated because they don’t think the agent isn’t showing enough empathy or taking the time to handle their request effectively. Adversely, if these agents’ other metrics look good, hold on to them! They are the embodiment of what a productive contact center agent should be.


In conclusion, it is essential to track Percentage of Calls Transferred and Average Handle Time to see how well your agents are performing and to find out if your customers are being provided exceptional service from your team.


Curious to See Your Own Perspectives?


This is the second of a 4-part series of blog posts about The 5 Key Metrics Every Call Center Manager Should Master video series.

Learn about Part 1: Do I Really Need a 0% Abandonment Rate?

Here is Part 3: Let's Talk Balancing Staffing Levels

The last in the series! Using Wrap Codes for a Refined Customer Experience


Curious on how to do set up these metrics in your own Brightmetrics environment? 

The how-to on Part 1: Now that We’ve Found [Abandonment Rate/Queue Time] ❤ What Are We Gonna Do?

Here's Part 2: Check Out the Big Transfer Rate on Brad

Ready for Part 3? But Really, How Do I Build that Agent % Available vs % Calls Answered Already???

Curious about Part 4? London Calling… Again? Could Wrap Codes Help Answer: “Why?”


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