Ask the Experts | Compensation & Performance for CSRs

Question: How would you align compensation with performance for a CSR?

Gary Elekes; Founder, EPC Training:

That’s a great question. The CSRs are responsible for booking calls, client satisfaction, the happiness side, the smile that transfers itself through the phone line. We know communication is limited because we don’t have the nonverbal, the body language side; voice intonation. So it’s a combination of things.

Call booking is the number one stat we’re looking for, so time-on-the-call would be something we’d be concerned about, but as long as the booking percentage is there that’s good. And then just in general, attendance and attitude and behavior towards core values.

I think what you do whenever you’re doing a performance-based compensation system is you look simply at: What behaviors do I want to transfer into the customer relationship? How do I want that individual to behave inside the company as part of the team? And how do I want that individual to grow from a career point of view?

So you have three basic criteria that you would look at and you would say, well, compensations and rewards systems go together. So the performance side of the pay system is: how many calls we took, how many did we book, and average time on the call. And you could say those are some pretty basic metrics, but most companies actually aren’t very good at tracking those. So you can use software to do that, but I would encourage you to make that the primary.

The second layer of that then becomes, does the CSR have a career plan? Are they taking workshops? Are they doing web-based learning? Are they completing the exercises that you want? Are they participating in the daily huddles? Are they making progress as an individual within the framework of the company?

So you can tie performance-based bonuses to that. It doesn’t have to be “book a call, get a penny.” It can be, “Did they complete the career-enhancement side of training and development so they become a better team member and a better employee?” So that is a way to create a bonus based on that.

And then the final product of that is part of the team. So we’ve always set up a gross profit bonus as it relates to the departments. So as a department budget, if we have a gross profit of X, once we achieve X as a department, then we begin paying bonuses out to the individual members of the department based on “X plus.”

There’s a million different ways you can structure that, but if $500,000 gross profit dollars is the number we’re seeing in service and we hit $600,000, there’s an increment there of $100,000. So depending on the rest of the performance of the company, a business owner might say “well I need that $100,000 to offset the negatives in another department.” But I would still suggest that some part of that $100,000 should have been driven toward a beginning bonus platform that we accounted for in a 2019 budget that said that the customer service reps, the dispatching function, the whole group of people who were in the call-taking and call-making side of the equation did a great job. So we’re going to create a team bonus, because we achieved something and that’s part of that celebration of success.

And it’s further than just compensation, it’s celebrating that; it’s making sure that people see the success. It’s having a get-together and lunches and doing things that are fun and making sure that you’re pulling people out who are successful and demonstrating that you’re calling them out in front of their peers and giving them recognition, appreciation, respect in front of their group.

So I think you have a combination of things you look at there; there’s always those three layers, and that also goes to other departments that are administrative. You could discuss bookkeeping, you could talk about the management functions, and you could talk about anything that doesn’t necessarily have a direct line toward production, sales, or areas that are pretty easy to measure.

I think when we get into the administrative side you want to be mindful of the fact that you would like them to participate in the success patterns. And so gross profit dollars, based on a department budget that they contribute to, is a good way to do that in addition to their individual metrics.

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