Pursuing continuous performance improvement
Before there was omnichannel, there were landlines. Ever since Home Shopping Network's earliest ancestor took to the AM radio waves in Clearwater, Fla., phones have been at the core of its business model. The business outgrew a standard rotary phone system mere months after its launch, and it has since then invested consistently in premier hardware and software to empower its teams.
The company was an early adopter of an Interactive Voice Response system for order entry, and it has more recently seen major benefits from implementing performance management at the individual level.1 This new performance management initiative has personalized key stages of the employee lifecycle, amplifying employee strengths, embracing transparency and individualizing coaching. This kind of personalized workforce optimization boosts employee satisfaction, reduces turnover and improves performance on key performance metrics, including those reflecting customer satisfaction. HSN's ability to offer a positive phone experience remains a vital part of its operations today.
The employee engagement dilemma
HSN is not the only organization constantly seeking out new ways to optimize employee achievement and engagement. The modern workforce is volatile and transient, and sales and service organizations are increasingly challenged by agent turnover and the associated costs, such as hiring and onboarding. On average, 35 percent of contact center staff quit every year, and losing and replacing an agent can cost a business as much as $20,000.
Contact center supervisors, like managers at most organizations, are under pressure to keep their employees engaged and satisfied.2 HSN is one of a growing number of industry leaders that have discovered that personalized, analytics-based workforce optimization can help keep their teams engaged and on task.
A new age of employee performance management
Personalized performance management deepens the impact of performance management by taking advantage of the latest tools and techniques in employee engagement, creating a much more empowering experience for the agent.3 The model puts employees at the center, so their work environment is fitted to their personalities, needs and personal goals, from their individual balanced scorecards to personal achievement rewards.4 Supervisor insights into performance trends, history and skills can enhance nearly all areas of performance management and provide direction for things like coaching, goal-setting and gamification. The flexibility of this system is the key to its ongoing success.
Personalized performance management is about more than a single competition or skill set – it aligns many behaviors with the company’s goals over time.
A personalized system of engagement
For example, one of the major performance improvement measures that HSN introduced was a gamification system. Through transparent goals, real-time performance insights and regular feedback, gamification gives HSN a more lively connection with agents. In order to streamline the onboarding process for new employees, HSN introduces the gamification concept with easily-attained goals, such as a first upsell, before introducing more challenging targets. Not only has the organization completely redefined its coaching culture, but it has also built a community in which senior leadership checks in with top agents to personally recognize their contributions. "Gamification has legs, and I know this program will be going strong in five years," explained one manager. It's a complete, coherent and cooperative system.
This success is all the more impressive because many of HSN's agents work remotely. Remote, at-home work environments typically limit interaction between supervisors and coworkers. The network's gamification system delivers engagement by creating easy and entertaining channels for the entire "floor" to communicate and compete. It encourages agents to differentiate themselves from their peers and requires managers to build a coaching relationship and stay up to date on each employee's performance.
Personalized performance management is increasingly a major focus of performance management initiatives in the contact center. Managers can now operationalize analytics at the individual level and ride beyond the simple collection and processing of information. When this capacity is merged with technology and new developments in training, coaching, gamification and continuous employee development, it creates a complete employee experience that is uniquely responsive to their individual needs. And the more pervasive employee engagement is in an agent's day-to-day experience, the more powerful the performance management outcomes can be.
Adam Aftergut is a product marketing manager for NICE Performance Management, the leading software solution used by contact centers to improve customer satisfaction scores (CSATs) while reducing contact center operational costs.
1 "Home Shopping Network Case Study," NICE /optimizing-customer-engagements/Lists/CustomerSuccesses/Attachments/118/NPM_Case_Study_Gamification_HSN.pdf
2 Teresa J Tschida, "Creating an Employee-Centric Call Center," Gallup (2005), http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/19087/creating-employeecentric-call-center.aspx
3 Adam Aftergut, "Performance Reviews vs. Performance Management," NICE (2016),
4 Steve W. Martin, "Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople," Harvard Business Review (2011), https://hbr.org/2011/06/the-seven-personality-traits-o