“People play differently when they are keeping score”

“People play differently when they are keeping score”… I nearly jumped out of my seat when this phrase was included in a speech at 2014 Interactions.  The philosophy is referenced in The 4 Disciplines of Execution series.  The words perfectly relay my sentiments on why QA scores matter!

In fact, the book references a number of principles that, when applied effectively, change the landscape of contact center performance management.  Call me old school or competitive, but I always want to know how I measure up and if I’m ‘winning’.  So do agents. 

The latest Quality dilemma is - To score or not to score…That is the question.  Today’s trend in the Contact Center is to remove the score from quality forms. This drives the question: “Why are contact centers removing the score even though people “play better” when a tally is kept?”

MOTIVE #1:  “Employees are focusing on the overall score.  Removing the score puts the focus on performance.”

I challenge this premise.  The score here is not the issue – the coaching is. When effective coaching and feedback is provided, the discussion between the agent and the coach is focused on behaviors - areas of strength as well as behaviors to change. Agents are done a disservice when they aren’t provided with specific, actionable feedback regardless of the ‘score’. The question should be: “Are my coaches trained to provide effective coaching?” and if they are “Are the coaches applying those rules in their agent sessions?” Because if this is happening with a QA score, what other metrics are being mishandled?

Completely removing a score or a rating sends a subliminal message to call center agents -QA isn’t as important as the other numbers you are held accountable to.

MOTIVE #2: Our score doesn’t reflect true performance.

If the score doesn’t reflect true performance, then you need to go back to the drawing board of what and how scoring is executed.  Do the questions on the form support key business measures? Are they ‘hold-overs’ from a scorecard written long-ago-in-a-land-far-away?  Determine the behaviors that are important to today’s Customer, today’s Business and today’s Compliance regulations.  These are what should be measured on the form and your definitions document should advise how to achieve top performance levels on each. 

MOTIVE #3:  We are aligning our evaluation ratings with our annual review ratings.

Wonderful! Agents will see the connection if you ensure that ratings are specifically defined.  If they are ambiguous or poorly defined, “100 people will interpret them 100 different ways” as they say in 4 Disciplines.  Or as I say - GIGO - Garbage In Garbage Out.  You haven’t improved performance; you have actually compounded the problem. 

MOTIVE #4:  The score doesn’t provide trends or show us our strengths or gaps.

This is absolutely true.  One score does not a trend make.  Look behind the overall score to assess trends.  Build questionnaires that clearly define levels of achievement as well as impact if the level is not met.  Compile and trend the question/attribute data to see the impact over time.  Then reinforce where behaviors are trending upward, provide actionable feedback where behavior is lagging. Document what coaching was given and monitor to see if the coaching provided is having the desired effect on agent behavior. 

 “Great teams know every moment whether or not they are winning.  Simply put, people disengage when they don’t know the score.  When they can see at a glance whether or not they are winning, they become profoundly engaged.”*

Instead of removing the score, then, why not provide meaningful ratings, scores, tracking, trending and coaching so agents can measure how they are doing?  Do it regularly and often.  Give employees the tools they need – QA scores and behavioral rating included – to perform at their best. People preform their best when they know it counts.

*All quotes come from: The 4 Disciplines of Execution; achieving your wilding important goals written by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling