The following story was described by Joe Willmore, a Northern Virginia–based performance consultant.
Client: An appliance company call center.
Problem: The organization aimed to decrease caller hold/wait time. One employee in particular was perceived as a low performer because her average call length time was significantly higher than that of her peers.
Cause: The organization used the wrong metrics. Instead of measuring the number of customer problems solved each day, they measured the length of each call.
Method/tools: Willmore organized employee focus groups and conducted customer surveys via phone and email to identify root issues. He asked customers to identify the call center representatives whom they thought exhibited the highest and lowest performance. Many customers identified the employee who was perceived by her supervisors to be a low performer as one of the top five representatives.
Willmore also revised the organization's metrics to measure the number of calls it took an employee to resolve a customer problem, instead of the length of calls.
Diagnosis: Since the organization used the wrong measures, leadership focused on the wrong problem. Once Willmore changed the measures, the real problem emerged. The employee seen as the worst performer was proven to be an exceptional performer—she averaged 1.2 calls to solve a customer problem, compared to the total representative average of 2.9 calls.