It’s Time to Replace the Annual Performance Appraisal

By Donna Fluss

Providing timely job-related feedback to agents will improve the customer experience along with the performance of your contact center or back-office operating department. Most employees welcome constructive feedback, suggestions, and coaching, particularly when tied to events they remember. Quality assurance (or quality management) programs are designed to provide timely feedback to employees so they know what they are doing right and where they can improve their performance.

Why Agent Reviews Must Go: The annual performance appraisal process is disliked by managers and employees alike. When it comes to contact centers, the annual appraisal is frequently irrelevant, particularly when it’s not tied to the quality assurance (QA) process. Even worse, it’s often demotivating for agents and a huge time drain for managers who go through the process simply because it’s required.

It’s ironic that the most important goal of the review process is to motivate employees, yet after waiting an entire year, most leave the discussion feeling alienated from their managers, undervalued, disengaged, or worse yet, “surprised.” In most cases, the feedback itself is a case of “too little, too late” and too far removed from the events or demonstrated behavior to have a positive impact on improving performance. And when these annual evaluations are used as the primary factor in deciding salary increases, it negatively affects the effectiveness of the quality assurance program, since agents learn quickly that QA results have little effect on their performance appraisals. Clearly, something has to change.

Performance Management Improves the Employee Experience: Historical and real-time contact center performance management should be used to replace the annual appraisal process. Performance management solutions act as consolidators, creating balanced scorecards that provide a quantitative view of agent and department performance.

These solutions collect performance data from QA, customer surveys, the automatic call distributor (ACD), customer relationship management (CRM) system, sales and collections applications, and more to assess how well agents and managers are doing to meet their goals. While they don’t address qualitative issues, they present a single system of record and promote a sense of fairness that helps to create a cycle of success, as compared to annual reviews that often drive employees away.

Real-time performance management has the ability to transform the employee feedback process by giving managers, supervisors, and employees the real-time data they need to become active participants in managing their performance and development on an ongoing basis. Real-time performance management aligns employee key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals with the enterprise’s strategic objectives and provides real-time, data-driven insights on employee performance relative to individual goals, peers, team, and the contact center.

This high degree of transparency delineates how each individual’s performance directly affects enterprise goals. The emphasis on aligning goals and identifying positive corrective action promotes accountability and motivates employees to modify behavior and improve performance, thus resulting in the delivery of a better customer experience and creating a performance-driven culture.

Final Thoughts: Real-time performance management provides feedback to give employees and managers actionable intelligence that empowers them to take corrective measures on a timely basis. Knowing where they stand at all times promotes awareness and drives ongoing modifications in behavior that result in greater employee engagement, improved agent performance, and ultimately higher levels of customer satisfaction. Real-time performance management transforms the performance appraisal from a static hindsight event to a dynamic, forward-looking process that provides ongoing, targeted feedback and recognition to drive incremental improvements.

Donna Fluss is the founder of DMG Consulting, a vendor-independent research and consulting firm that analyzes contact center and back-office technology and best practices. Contact her at with any questions you may have or to learn how to make today’s innovative and powerful technologies and best practices work for your organization.

%d bloggers like this: