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Why You NEED To Ditch Performance Appraisals

Why You NEED To Ditch Performance Appraisals

Why You NEED To Ditch Performance Appraisals

Performance Appraisals. Love Them or Hate Them?

To some extent, appraisals do work but are usually too far apart and take a significant amount of work to organize. Although the results can be positive, employees worry about them, and if you bring up something negative which wasn't recent, it looks like you are picking on them.

We want our agents to be happier when doing their job, not more stressed and demotivated.

When I was on the receiving end of performance appraisals, I never liked them, and the delay was the biggest problem.

My opinion was if I do something wrong, the sooner you tell me about it, the sooner I can fix it, and if I do something right let know, and I'll do it again.


Imagine if you were training a new kitten or a puppy to do its business outside, or in a litter tray and you waited for three months before you gave them any feedback. You would end up knee deep in sh**!

With that said, here are five reasons to show that appraisals are hurting your business and not helping it!

The text ‘Houston, we have a problem’ followed by a rocket.

1. Appraisals Take a lot of Work to Organise!

Oh spreadsheets, how much I hate them. I've wasted so much time preparing appraisals because of them; time which could have been spent coaching and improving the performance of my team.

Not only spreadsheets but finding all of the data which I needed to show to my staff. The examples of good calls, bad calls, the complaints, the positive comments and drafting out how they could improve. It was hell preparing for them.

For the fast-paced businesses out there, appraisals can be rushed and done ineffectively. You might as well have not bothered at all!

Think about the process you have to do to perform appraisals: Analyse the employee's performance, look at their data, complete the forms, hold the meeting and take time out of everyone's day. It's believed performance appraisals take up around 2 million hours a year.

Can you really afford to spend this much time? I'd rather do it more effectively, and quicker! 

2. Staff Leave Before They Get to Their First Appraisal

High staff turnover is a harsh fact for almost all call centers. Some agents leave before they even get to their first performance appraisal, wasting the money spent training them.

Why does this happen?

Lots of reasons, but one is that everybody wants to be told 'well done' once in a while. Waiting months for an appraisal to acknowledge an individual's efforts is madness and can leave some new hires with the impression that you don’t care about what they are doing.

This delayed feedback is also something which as a manager, I struggled with. I cared about and valued my staff. I wanted to give them praise, but I didn't have the means to collect the necessary data easily and couldn't spare the time to collect it to give them performance feedback frequently.

3. They Are Not Listening to You

So you've managed to organise all of your data into a spreadsheet for an appraisal. It's now time to get to work. You sit down with an agent for their appraisal and start discussing the mistakes which happened in the past months with them.

The staff member can hardly remember a conversation they had a few hours ago, let alone months ago. Naturally, they feel you're unjust even mentioning them, and get defensive.

When I had to do this, I didn't want to bombard my staff with just negativity, so I tried to explain to them that I just wanted to help them improve, while at the same time, telling them what was good with their performance - but most didn't believe me and only heard the negatives.

4. Repetition is Habit Forming

If you allow your employees to do the wrong thing repeatedly, then those things will become a habit, which is hard to change. For employees, it often seems easier just to quit, rather than try and change the way they have always done things!

5. Faster Feedback Produces Better Performance

Appraisals are a delayed method of feedback, and immediate feedback is proven to improve performance.

Don't just take my word for it have a read. If you opened that, had a skim and was left scratching your head, here is a slightly less technical article.

6. Appraisals Can Actually Cause Good Employees To Leave

Yes, you read that right. Giving out an appraisal could actually be one of the most anti-productive practices you have in your workplace.

Imagine you've been working as hard as you can for the past year, putting in the extra hours and you feel you've made a real difference. Now imagine your boss comes and seems to focus on the areas you're underperforming in.

Unfortunately, this is the nature of the appraisal for many businesses. "Well done for this, BUT you need to do better in X, Y and Z.

Adobe carried out a study, and found that 52% of workers were negatively surprised by the feedback given, whilst 22% of workers cried after the appraisals. This shouldn't be what appraisals are about; encourage your employees, don't destroy their souls!

7. They're Inconsistent

Since there's no set method for appraisals and can be largely prone to subjectivity, it's going to be impossible to consistently conduct them.

Sure, you can measure them based on sales, or calls made, but that doesn't tell the full story. 

If they've made more calls than needed, that doesn't always mean they're a good worker; the quality of those calls may have been nowhere good enough. 

On the other hand, they may not have reached their goal due to issues beyond their control. How can you tell someone they're no good when it's not their fault?

Then of course, there's bias. 

Whether you know it or not, you'll be biased towards different employees. Some you will like more than others, it's natural! 

But that's not fair on the employees receiving the appraisal, is it? Everyone deserves to be judged on the same performance scale, not how much you like them.

A Never-Ending Cycle

Do you feel like you keep repeating yourself? You hire new staff, some leave before the first appraisal which you've spent a lot of time organizing, and after it, a lot more leave. Repeat.

Staff attrition cycle

Break Out of It - Upgrade to an Evaluation System that Works!

If you want to break this cycle, you need to ditch the performance appraisal method.

You might then ask, “How would I measure my staffs' performance?”

Good question. You could try some of the available quality assurance software on the market (we tried most of them, and none of them worked), or you can save yourself the hassle and try Cxceed.

Untitled design(3)

What Makes a Good QA System?

First of all, and I can’t stress this enough, a good quality assurance system has to enable frequent evaluations - The more frequent, the better, with daily evaluations being the ideal option.

Why Daily Evaluations?

To repeat my opening words: If I do something wrong, the sooner you tell me about it, the sooner I can fix it.

Look at it this way – it’s an appraisal done daily.

You don’t need to bother with months worth of spreadsheet data, and you don’t wait months to do them. It works even better for the agents. Daily evaluations don’t overwhelm them with mistakes that happened months ago, but rather they are pointed out as soon as they happen.

The Wrap-Up

It's time for call centers and businesses to upgrade their out of date methods to a quality system that will help grow their business.

If you have any experiences with appraisals or evaluation systems that you might want to share, leave a comment down below!

Improve Your Business Today

Discover how Cxceed can help improve your customer experience and boost your profit. 

Tips to Improve Your Call Center Training

Tips to Improve Your Call Center Training

Tips to Improve Your Call Center Training

Customer demands are always changing, and call centers need to modify their training to keep up.Not doing so can lead to the loss of customers because they encounter a poor customer experience.Don't get left behind. Browse these top tips on how to improve quality assurance in a call center to take your customer experience to the next level.


Use a CSAT Call Center KPI to Indicate What to Review

The clue is in the name 'Call Center Key Performance Indicators'. These 'indicators' are just that and should be used as a guide only. A lot of call centers tend to misuse KPIs, having a negative impact on their business.Correctly using KPIs will help indicate areas to be targeted for evaluation. You don't know what has upset a customer, so you should never assume a low CSAT means that an agent has done a poor job without investigating it.

A magnifying glass over a decline in a performance graph, followed by the text 'Investigate the root of the problem'


Evaluations Are Where You Identify What Needs Improving

The main purpose of evaluations is to highlight where agents can improve, and call centers should have a scoring system to help analyze the performance of their staff. A poorly designed or non-existent scoring system can contribute to high attrition rates. A well-designed system will help you identify areas an agent needs to improve and provide training and coaching material with the click of a button.

A pie chart divided on four part with a loop symbol in the middle, with each part containing one of 'identify, adapt, learn, improve'.


Self Evaluation Helps

Allowing your staff to self-evaluate their performance helps them to realise and accept their own weaknesses. It also helps lower the barrier people raise when they feel they are being criticized.Self-evaluations can be problematic if not done correctly - what's stopping agents from scoring themselves 100% for each call? It's hard to have agents self-evaluate with honesty; this is something we as a company initially struggled with when trying to get agents to self-evaluate but using Cxceed helped us to overcome this.

A part of a scorecard with a tick box followed by excellent crossed out, followed by a circled handwritten 'I can do better!'.


Have Frequent and Timely Evaluations

Frequent evaluations help identify mistakes as they happen, which together with ongoing training, solve issues before they become bigger.When we switched to daily evaluations, our problems were solved without the pressure of having to deal with numerous issues in one go.Coaching was also given at this point to stop a repetition of the problem. We saw that frequent and timely evaluations had a positive impact on our staff.

Combining These Tips Will Result in an Outstanding Performance Management System!

Combining these techniques will result in a performance management system which runs smoothly and works. A system that agents and managers identify and accept what needs improving is key and it is this working together will result in an improved call center training routine - helping grow your business as a whole.

The Wrap-Up

These are just some of the tips which helped me along the way to improving the training I gave my agents. I hope you find them useful in developing your staff! If you have any tips you want to share, feel free to leave a comment down below.

Improve Your Business Today

Discover how Cxceed can help improve your customer experience and boost your profit. 

How to Reduce Average Handle Time in a Call Center

How to Reduce Average Handle Time in a Call Center

How to Reduce Average Handle Time in a Call Center to Increase Productivity and Sales

Average call handle time has been something call centers have always wanted to reduce. So many theories on just how to reduce it, so many “quality assurance practices" to follow, yet barely any of them work. In this post, we’ll get familiar with just what this metric is, and how to reduce average handle time in a call center, without losing any quality in your service, or staff.

What Is Average Handle Time, and Why Is It a Problem?

Every business attempts to reduce operating costs. Time is money, and the more time each agent spends on a call, the more it costs to run a business. Since the first call centre opened, the struggle to optimize workflow has existed. Different metrics became popular, one of which was reducing the average call handle time (AHT) for each agent.

How to Calculate Average Handle Time

Each business that operates a call centre may define it differently, but the definition we would give is:

“The average time an agent takes to deal with a call and is unavailable to deal with the next one."

Using this definition, the average handle time formula would include the following metrics:

Hold time

The time when an agent places a customer on hold while dealing with internal procedures.

Wrap-up time

The time processing data, or on internal procedures connected to the call.

Talk time

The time the agent and the customer spend talking to each other.

Follow-up in call time

The time dealing with issues related to the original call.

It would not include:

The time the customer spends on the call before the agent answers it.

The time after a customer's transfer to another colleague.

Any time the agent is available to answer another call.

Average handling time (AHT) as a mathematical formula looks something like this:

AHT Original = (Hold Time + Talk Time+ Time on Follow-Up Calls + Wrap-Up Time) / Number of Total Calls
To reduce costs, many managers set a maximum average call handle time for each agent, but does it work?

It is Possible to Reduce AHT But Not by Focusing on The Formula

The irony with average handle time is that focusing on it doesn’t help call centres improve effectiveness; it just increases the number of calls.

“But how is that possible? Almost every call centre uses the formula to reduce its call handling time!”Most call centers have high staff turnover because they use metrics like the AHT formula.When the focus is on the length of the call, agents feel pressured and reduce their call time, but they don’t worry about the quality of the call, nor the customer’s needs.

They focus on finishing that call faster and then starting another. Rushing calls can sometimes lead to unhappy clients being forced to make repeated calls to solve their problem, decreasing client satisfaction rates.

So How Do You Reduce Average Call Handling Time?

We set out to reduce our call handling time, and although we managed it, it was a bit of a journey.

First off, we followed the standard “quality assurance practice" of insisting call agents reduce their Average Call Handling time. We set targets for agents to achieve this.

We had positive results which saw AHT times down and service levels up.

Unfortunately, it also had a detrimental effect on first call resolution, customer satisfaction and advisor satisfaction which were all down. Even worse, the average call handling time went up when we combined calls from customers which were about the same problem.

CAHT = (Hold Time + Talk Time + Time on Follow-Up Calls + Wrap-Up Time) / Number of Calls From Clients About a Different Subject

Starting a consultation process, we talked everything through with our agents and supervisors, encouraging them to give their honest opinions. The conclusion was that to reduce average call handling time; we had to improve our agents' call handling skills.

Our new training mantra became:'Focus on quality and speed will happen naturally.'

Improving call handling skills while keeping your agents happy is not easy to do. We managed it by using Cxceed.

The positive results were:

  • AHT times down
  • Service levels up
  • First call resolution up
  • Customer satisfaction up
  • Advisor satisfaction up
An eye test containing a number of call center terms, with eyeglasses focusing on the term call handling skills, followed by the text 'Focus on call handling skills to reduce average handle time'

How to Reduce Average Call Handling Time by Improving Call Handling Skills

How we solved the problem

Most people naturally don't like criticism, and a lot of us build defensive barriers in our minds against perceived attacks. To successfully improve the call handling skills of an agent, first, you need to convince them to change their attitude to feedback. People don’t like someone telling them what they need to improve - Just because it’s called feedback, it doesn’t mean the agent will not regard it as criticism.


The big question is how to remove these barriers.

Start by including staff in the evaluation process, and making the whole process transparent. The transparency builds trust and having your staff self-evaluate their own calls, lowers their defenses. It is a simple concept; when employees evaluate their own actions and point out areas they can improve, then they are more receptive to any coaching given.

Cxceed facilitates this effortlessly.

How Exactly Does Improving Call Handling Skills Reduce Average Call Handling Time?

Let's make an analogy here: When teaching a new pupil to drive, the instructor doesn't start by teaching them to drive fast. That would be reckless. Instead, they concentrate on ensuring that the learner builds up the right skills to deal with any situation that they might encounter on the road. Driving at speed is something that develops later.

Reducing average call handling time works the same way. Agents will start by doing great calls, and with time, they will get faster, and the average time of these calls will reduce.

We hope you found this helpful. If you have any tips you want to share or have something else to add, feel free to leave a comment down below!

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