William Balvanz is the Training Specialist at Voyant, a US-based UCaaS provider. He has years of experience in the call center space, as well as cloud-based communications. We have once again called on William to provide insight to the difference between Adherence and Compliance when evaluating agent performance.
Adherence and Compliance
Schedule adherence and agent compliance are two key performance indicators that look at similar activity. In one case you look at how close the agent's work aligns with how they're scheduled, in the other you look at how closely the number of work hours lineup with the time that they have actually worked. Of course it's possible to track both, but which one should you use?
For call centers that pay their employees an hourly wage for the time that they work, compliance can be the key metric to focus on. Compliance can be successful even if the employee works over a lunch or clocks out late, provided the correct amount of time was spent in the queue. Scheduling adherence, on the other hand, looks to measure what state a call center agent is in at any given interval. Adherence is more important in call centers that are tightly scheduled and forecast.
The difference between the two is remarkable. Employees A and B in the example below have the exact same schedule. A is a little late for his first break, but takes the right amount of time, likewise for lunch. Then A decides to skip off to break a little early in the afternoon but comes back when he is supposed to (taking a long break). B is on a call through the entire first break, but takes the right amount of time as soon as he can. Lunch is spot on, but he takes his afternoon break early, even if it is for the proper length of time. The times that are out of adherence are marked in red.
Employee A has an adherence of 89%, but a compliance of 98% (due to the long break). Employee B, on the other hand, has an adherence of 86% but is 100% compliant. Depending on which metric is more important will influence how each agent is coached. For contact centers with long handle times, adherence becomes increasingly difficult to hit. Compliance is based more on the time management and behavior of the agent irrespective of the calls that they get.
The Importance of Adherence
Coaching to adherence is very difficult and the metric to hit is often in the 80 to 85% range. Agents with notoriously long handle times should not be coached to adherence until the handle time comes under control. This is because it's futile to coach to hitting a particular schedule time if the agent has long calls all the time anyway.
Adherence can be abused if coached too strongly. An agent can realize that they need to end a call at a particular time and force a short call with poor service to make that adherence time. If coaching towards adherence, keep an eye on other more important metrics such as handle time, transfer rate, and first call resolution so they do not slip.
The Importance of Compliance
Compliance more accurately measures an agent's time management behaviors. If their break should be 15 minutes, the agent has control when that break ends even if they can't control when it begins. If lunch should be a half an hour, even if they start lunch a few minutes late the agent can come back a few minutes late and maintain the half hour time and be compliant. The only time that compliance becomes difficult to control is if the employee stays over, or continually comes in early or late. For this reason compliance is a useful measure to keep hourly employees in check.
Compliance can be abused if the agent decides when he or she should have a break, making the call queue low staff for that interval. Keep an eye on agents who you are coaching to compliance to ensure their behaviors are in the best interest of the business, and not strictly to hit a particular number.
Adherence and compliance look at similar activities with in the daily queue output, but look at them from different perspectives. Be mindful when you decide which one to coach to, be sure other customer impacting metrics do not fall away, and keep an eye out for potential KPI abuse.