A balanced scorecard provides a great way for support teams to discuss success and areas for improvement during 1:1 meetings.
As Customer Support Leaders, we understand the importance of conducting meaningful 1:1 conversations with team members. These conversations ensure their growth and align their goals with the broader objectives of our organizations. One of the many one-on-one frameworks that can be used to produce excellent results is the balanced scorecard.
A Balanced Scorecard is a performance measurement tool that enables a leader to assess and track various aspects of their operations and align them with strategic goals. Using this approach within customer support teams allows agents to take ownership of their performance and drive meaningful outcomes. Jeremy Watkin, Director of Customer Experience and Support at NumberBarn, uses this technique with his teams to great success. He and I sat down to discuss how leveraging this one-on-one framework can elevate customer support excellence, foster agent growth, and cultivate lasting customer relationships.
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Can you provide an overview of how you implemented a balanced scorecard in support?
Jeremy: As we built a balanced scorecard for our support team, we sought to display only metrics that were within the agent’s control, which required quite a bit of simplification. First, we felt that Customer Satisfaction and Service Level were not completely within their control. While something they contribute to, it was more appropriate to share the overall team score.
Then, since our main channel is email, we display emails sent per hour and show them where they stand in comparison to the team average and predetermined goal. However, showing them quantity can prove disastrous if not balanced with quality. That’s why we display the results of quality assessments just below that. This simplicity has given both agents and supervisors some much-needed focus.
Finally, for our other channels, we’re moving more and more toward showing an occupancy metric. This is the percentage of time agents are occupied versus their scheduled work hours. There are still some variables with this one but it’s leading to conversations around how productive our team is being with their time.
How did the use of a balanced scorecard one-on-one framework enhance the quality of 1:1 conversations?
Jeremy: Thinking about this in terms of before and after, I will say that it’s incredibly difficult to discuss productivity and quality with team members without having the metrics to back it up. Since establishing our scorecard, we’ve been able to show our lower performers where they can improve and set goals that are revisited on a regular basis. Of late, our 1:1 conversations have turned into celebrations as we see folks meet their goals. It’s amazing how that works!
We also found that we couldn’t just show people the quantity of their work. In an environment where some folks work part time and others full time, we had to marry metrics like emails sent with hours worked. Emails sent per hour worked gives us an apples to apples comparison across our team.
Also important in our 1:1 conversations with team members is caring for them as people. We talk about how they’re doing both inside and outside of work. What are their career goals, how’s school going, how’s their family doing and how can we best support them? Agents who are valued first as humans are much more likely to perform at a high level in their work.
What metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) did you include in the balanced scorecard?
Jeremy: As mentioned earlier, we share quantity of work metrics to show productivity as well as quality of work metrics to ensure a healthy balance. We also show team-wide metrics because our entire team can help us achieve great customer satisfaction and help us hit our service level targets.
Another metric that I didn’t mention is contribution toward self-service which is part of our Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) initiative. We love it when our team sends knowledge articles to customers to resolve issues, actively suggests edits to existing articles, and submits drafts for new articles.
How did these metrics contribute to delivering meaningful outcomes?
Jeremy: Initially, one of our biggest challenges was that the support team felt understaffed and overworked and ownership felt that both quality and productivity were lacking. By implementing this balanced scorecard in support, we’re able to confidently say that our team is working at an optimal level — or at least trending in the right direction. This allows us to confidently ask for more people and resources as needed. It definitely improves the level of trust between management and ownership at our company.
How did the balanced scorecard approach help in aligning individual agent goals with the broader objectives of the support team and organization?
Jeremy: Our mission as a company is as follows:
We believe behind every telephone number there’s a beautiful idea, opportunity, or person. We strive to create those meaningful connections every day.
I tend to shorten this and say that we are all about making meaningful connections with our customers. By working at optimal productivity, we ensure no customer has to wait too long for a solution to their issue. And quality ensures that every experience with our customer support team is a good one. The fact that we continuously achieve customer satisfaction levels over 90% indicates that we’re mostly getting this right. Are we perfect? No! But I like to think that we are continuously improving and working toward this goal.
Were there any challenges or obstacles you encountered during the implementation of the balanced scorecard in support?
Jeremy: The biggest challenge for us was finding the best, most sustainable way to present this data to our team. We were able to get about 90% of the way there by creating dashboards in our ticketing system. The inability to pull in data from our HR/time tracking platform compelled us to create our own dashboard in Google Sheets.
After a bunch of YouTube videos and formulas and about 30 minutes of data input each month, we can now present a one-page dashboard to agents during 1:1 conversations with just a few clicks. We’re constantly on the lookout for software that can do the job but this system is working for us for now.
What tools have you used to manage this program, both from the agent’s point of view, but also to show that success to your leadership?
Jeremy: Mainly a Google Sheet packed with a bunch of formulas is doing the trick for us currently. We actually did create individual performance dashboards in our ticketing system. That way agents can see how they did on a daily basis. Still, we use the spreadsheet during our monthly 1:1 conversations. It’s definitely come in handy when leadership asks how a particular team member is doing and we have the data at the ready.