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  • Clive Woodrow

The Power of Stack Ranking

As you know contact centers run on hard-working people and statistics, lots of them.

Statistics such as Attendance, AHT, FCR, CSAT, Hold Time, Service Level, Occupancy, and that’s just to name a few. Everything is measured to ensure you get the best from your people, your processes and your technology.


But, with so many statistics, it can be difficult to truly measure the overall performance of your agents, in an objective and balanced way. AHT or Average handle time is usually the foremost measure of Agent performance. But we also have to be mindful of the service we provide to Customers. That is why Customer satisfaction surveys are so important.

Also, there’s a cost of having to talk to the same customer several times about the same issue. That is why you should measure First Call Resolution as it’s also an important statistic to track in your operation. Attendance is another measure that informs you how engaged your people are in the work that they are doing. With so many key performance indicators to track, you need a system to balance them all. This is where Stack Ranking can help you.


What is Stack Ranking? It is the ability to combine Agent performance across several metrics to determine how everyone ranks within the team. With that data, you could be more effective in how you train, how you coach and how you recognize Agent performance.


Companies like GE and Microsoft have used Stack Ranking to make decisions on promotion and terminations. You can use it for that in addition to monthly bonus awards, or contests, or pay increases or plain recognition - Anything that requires an objective and balanced view of Agent results.


Stack Ranking is a great method to better understand Agent performance as it helps you easily identify agents who are having challenges. This allows you to improve service, lower costs and increase the service quality of your Contact Centers operation.


Today..., you might look at Agent results one metric at a time, but there is a danger to doing that. Let me give you a few examples of why that could be true. One agent may have low AHT. Great, but what if he gets that number by hanging up on a few customers every day! If so, your reputation and your CSAT will suffer as a result. By measuring both AHT and CSAT you are more likely to detect such bad behaviour. You could have an Agent who’s First Call Resolution is stellar, but if she keeps customers on the phone twice as long as other agents that will drive up your costs and could potentially impact your service levels. By measuring both FCR and AHT that would help you see the impact of such activity. Or, you could have a great performing Agent but he often misses his scheduled shifts. That impacts other Agents as they have to do the extra work to cover for him. Having attendance combined with CSAT and FCR is a valuable measure.


So, to really understand who are your best-performing agents from those who need immediate coaching, you can combine your key metrics together to get a simple to understand Stack Ranking.


Let’s look at a group of 30 Agents to see how we can do this.

The AHT for last month is in seconds and Attendance for the month expressed as a percentage.

Fortunately, we can use some simple math and combine these two key performance indicators into one number to stack rank the team in perfect order.

The formula to combine them is: =AHT/(Attendance/100) [we make Attendance a true decimal by dividing it by 100].


By dividing the AHT by Attendance, you get a Stack Ranking number that has the same “properties” of AHT where a lower number is good and a high number is bad.


In this calculation, as the Agents attendance percentage drops it drives up their 2KPI Stack Ranking number.

Look at Peggy Mcrea in the chart above. Her AHT is 667.4 seconds but her 2KPI Stack Ranking number nearly doubles because her attendance is so poor at only 53%.


This is how our team looks when it is stack ranked based on the combined performance of AHT and Attendance.

You can add onto the Performance Stack Ranking system by adding in another KPI.


We have selected the Agents CSAT, which is the average score from all the Customer Satisfaction surveys received last month.

We are going to continue with the same logic where a lower ranking score means higher performance. What we are going to do first is build CSAT into our existing 2KPI Stack Ranking score. This will give us a new Stack Ranking score with three different measures of Agent performance combined into one easy to measure number.


Here is the simple formula to create the 3KPI Stack Ranking: = the existing 2 KPI Stack Ranking number / (CSAT/100)


You can see here the new 3 KPI Stack Ranking numbers.

Now I will sort the team to show you how Agents rank differently after their CSAT scores are combined.

Look at Magnolia Dunn who was yellow in our 2KPI Stack Ranking score has now turned to Green due to her high CSAT score. Another example is Jimmy Gasca. He was green and now he is yellow because his CSAT was fairly low at 64%. This is a powerful way to look at the overall performance of your Agents while still maintaining a view of their specific challenges.


Having that view is still necessary to know what type of training or coaching to provide to your agents. Please, do not lose sight of the specific metrics that make up the stack rank scores. Those metrics tell you where your Agents have challenges.

Remember, measuring Agents on just one or two indicators can give you a potentially false view of overall performance. By combining different performance data you can create a simple but powerful stack ranking system. This system of balancing key performance indicators can help you focus your coaching efforts and recognition on Agents who provide the greatest contribution to your customers and your company.

You can see my video on this topic for a bit more information.


Thanks for reading.

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