Just another stat on the wall? How to make wallboards work for your contact centre

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Wallboards are a mainstay in the contact centre industry – but as with any power tool, there's a right way and a wrong way to use them.

Wallboards have been an integral part of call centres and contact centres since the inception of the industry in the early ’70s. From the ugly ‘green screens’ of the past to today’s high definition displays, the wallboard has always given contact centre managers a powerful platform with which to govern their operations and drive performance.

But the wallboard can be a dangerous, double-edged sword.

On the one hand, contact centre wallboards can stimulate positive performance. But when these tools are used inappropriately, they can contribute to a toxic operational culture – and drive entirely wrong behaviours.

 The good, the bad and the ugly

The typical contact centre is one of the most micromanaged working environments imaginable. It is also among the most stressful. Targets, goals, SLAs, all manner of KPIs, workforce management and campaign data… These are only a few of the numbers constantly bombarding managers, supervisors, and agents.

It can be too much!

Wallboards, when well-designed, configured and used, can play a major role in helping your operators to peak efficiency and effectiveness. They can also utterly trash the very things you’re trying to improve.

Let’s take a closer look. 

The advantages of a wallboard

Typical real-time data displayed on wallboards will include all or some of the following:

  • service level
  • calls waiting
  • calls answered
  • abandonment rate
  • longest-waiting call
  • agents logged in/out
  • agents active/idle
  • campaign performance
  • special events
  • customer satisfaction
  • Net Promoter Score

In addition, modern wallboard systems allow for management to easily alter or add to the displayed content. Additions to standard KPIs or news flashes could include team or company announcements, individual accolades, awards, incentive programmes, staff birthdays, product information and much more.

This information, if it is displayed in an attractive way, helps keep agents and managers in the loop regarding the real-time operational dynamics of the contact centre. It can also serve as a powerful way to boost morale, accountability and efficiency.

But of course there’s a catch

A poorly utilised wallboard can cause several serious problems.

There’s nothing quite so boring to a contact centre agent than a cluttered, static, pure-text wallboard. If it’s the same-old, same-old day after day, whatever is displayed on the contact centre wallboard is bound to be totally ignored. On the other hand, too much rapidly changing, flashing or long, scrolling information can distract your agents terribly.

Avoid displaying information that has no value to agents. At best you’ll break their concentration. At worst you’ll seriously demotivate your staff and injure your culture.

Don’t, for example, share too much about individual agent performance. And be careful not to display information that agents simply don’t have any control over. Think service level and abandonment rate: these are management and capacity-planning issues.

Think carefully about what you’re trying to incentivise. Misused wallboard information can often drive undesirable behaviour. Take average handling time (AHT). If agents are being driven to reduce AHT, and constantly reminded of this by the wallboard, there is a very real danger they will deliberately shorten customer interactions – at the expense of customer satisfaction and overall call quality.

Best practice guidelines

The dual starting points for an effective contact centre wallboard? Source the best tech you can and spend considerable time planning, implementing and managing the solution.

Modern wallboard management software allows for the creative use of data, images, colours, symbols, icons, fonts and much more. Using it well will result in fresh, attractive displays that change frequently to maintain interest.

Consult front-line staff (agents and team leaders) to find out what information they really want and need to see on the wallboards. Also probe agents find out what type and style of wallboard graphics they find attractive.

Remember: the contact centre wallboard should be about communication of real-time information. Information that employees can use to contribute to the overall improvement of the operation, at that time.

Less is more

The well-designed wallboard contains no more than four to six pieces of information at any time. Avoid over-using animations, flashing and long, scrolling messages. (And it’s perfectly acceptable now and then to display nothing more than a logo or a powerful slogan.) Use KPIs and other operational data in bursts to avoid boredom, and to achieve maximum impact and comprehension.

Avoid cluttering wallboard messaging or displaying data that is only of value to team leaders or supervisors. Some information is best pushed to managers’ or supervisors’ dashboards as alerts according to defined thresholds.

Use wallboards to inspire your agents. Individual recognition for achievements can become an important – and greatly appreciated – part of your contact centre culture. Calling out agent birthdays or other personal or family events (such as the birth of a child) also helps create a warm and friendly environment.

Mix and match real-time KPIs and other data with occasional snippets of company or contact centre–specific news. Try to keep a strong element of fun going without overdoing it.

What to do next

Really great contact centre managers know the power and the potential of having a well-planned and -implemented wallboard strategy. Here are a few things you can do right now.

  • Investigate the wallboard capabilities of your existing contact centre solution. Learn what can be done with it, and what may be too complex or costly to implement.
  • Start a wallboard plan. Work with managers, supervisors, team leaders and agents to find out what will add value to their working environment.
  • Keep the wallboard plan alive by reviewing it at least every month.
  • Display at least one thing differently on your wallboard every day. Agents’ birthdays and family events. Inspirational quotations. One-line humour. Appropriate cartoons. Headline news.
  • Measure performance in relation to wallboard changes. Try to establish correlations, then drill down to the best-performing displays.
  • If your centre is big enough, run A/B tests. On two separate boards, display information that differs only in one way – a KPI, for example.