Benchmarking Against Your Best Performers

Your company may be spending a lot of effort and money searching for benchmarking information and “industry standard” numbers for a wide variety of call center performance metrics.  However, the numbers you’re looking for may be closer to you than you think! 

Instead of worrying about what your competitor or other companies in your industry are doing, look at your own staff’s performance and take a particularly close look at the variation from low to high. While you may not be able to make an “apples to apples” comparison with another company anyway, you can certainly pull some valuable information just by looking at your own staff’s performance.

The best way to set standards and measure how well you’re doing is to look at the top 10% of performers.  Look at the top sales performers and their conversion rates compared to the bottom range of performers.  How much of a variation exists between low and high?  Instead of worrying about the “average” number from other companies and matching that, wouldn’t it be better to use your top performers’ numbers as the benchmark against which to compare others’ performance?

There’s an old joke about two people in the woods being chased by a bear. One says to the other, “This is crazy. There’s no way to outrun a bear,” and the other replies, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you!”   You can take this idea and apply it to your call center.   It’s not enough to be better than the competition’s “average” — that may not be very good.  However, if you use your top performers as the benchmark for others, you’ll have a more reasonable goal.  You can see how much is reasonable to sell if a person is performing at their peak in your working environment. You can see what a reasonable handle time is or what schedule adherence is actually possible.

A great way to assess your overall performance as a center is to take a look at the gap in these numbers.  If you have very little variation from low to high, that’s a sign of good overall performance.  On the other hand, if you see big gaps between the low and high performers, you’ve got lots of room for improvement.  A recent article in the Harvard Business Review pointed out that “the variations within a company easily dwarf the differences between competitors.”

Focusing on consistency within your own organization is a better strategy than worrying about what the competition is doing.