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AgFirst’s Customer Support Center (CSC) serves as the first point of contact regarding all systems, processes and benefits managed by AgFirst. CSC has a team of representatives providing quality support to Association and Bank employees and is available seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. Eastern time. To ensure timely and accurate support, CSC operates under a defined Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Associations and an aligning balanced scorecard management approach.

Metrics Management

Metrics defined within the SLA include:

  • Average Speed of Answer (ASA): The average amount of time a caller waits when contacting CSC. Team goal: 20 seconds or less.
  • Abandoned Rate (ABR): The average number of callers who hang up before their call is answered. Team goal: 3.5% or less.
  • Case Resolution Rate: The percentage of calls resolved within the department (without having to escalate to a secondary support team). Team goal: 60% or more.
  • Average Wait Time (AWT): The average amount of time a caller has to wait when there is a wait time. This goal differs from ASA in that not every call generates a wait time. Team goal: Less than 45 seconds.
  • Target Service Factor (TSF): The percentage of calls that meet all SLA metrics. Team goal: At least 95%.

AgFirst tracks SLA performance quarterly and reviews the results with each Association to discuss performance and potential improvement opportunities. Ensuring successful performance depends on detailed call and case management processes. Using a balanced scorecard approach, we manage individual performance based on seven metrics tracked and reviewed with each analyst monthly, including:

  • Individual Case Resolution: The percentage of cases the analyst resolves without obtaining support from another team member or department.
  • Group Case Resolution: The percentage of cases the analyst assists another team member in resolving to prevent having to engage a second-level support team. This goal also fosters teamwork and greater collaboration.
  • Schedule Adherence: The percentage of time an analyst is present for their scheduled shift (on time at the beginning of the shift, on time when returning from lunch, doesn’t leave for lunch early or leave for the day early).
  • Availability Ratio: The percentage of time an analyst is assisting a caller or available to assist a caller. If the analyst has taken themselves off of the phone for another task, such as research or a special project, that time would count against this metric.
  • Quality of Case/Ticket Management: Tracks how well the analyst documented the case in our case management tool, assyst. Accurate and thorough documentation is necessary in ensuring we have a robust knowledge center for quick reference when resolving similar issues and to ensure we have an accurate representation of the issue encountered. As a side note, the assyst knowledge center is available to all District employees as a reference guide in resolving technical issues.
  • Quality of Call Handling: Tracks how well the analyst resolved the caller’s issue (accurately, thoroughly, was pleasant, how well the analyst educated the caller on resolving the issue in the future, etc.). This metric is based on a quality scorecard in which calls are reviewed for educational and learning purposes.
  • Operating Level Agreement (OLA) Compliance: Measures how well the analyst adhered to the operating level agreement in place between Customer Support and all second-level support teams.
Call and Case Management

Managing the SLA and balanced scorecard metrics is a simple task when using ShoreTel ECC (Enterprise Call Center) and assyst. ShoreTel ECC provides the call center software needed to queue, prioritize and assign call distribution to analysts. It also allows for extensive reporting capabilities on both call and analyst performance. Assyst is the case tracking tool used by both AgFirst and District Associations to report, track and manage an issue through its resolution. In addition to simplifying the work of the analyst by providing shortcuts like pre-populated popup windows, it also allows for extensive reporting capabilities to ensure each case is managed accurately and timely.

In addition to ShoreTel ECC and assyst, Customer Support analysts benefit from the technical tools made available through the Bank’s Network Operations Center (NOC). The NOC, which consists of Customer Support, the network services team and the computer operations team, serves as a collaborative group focused on ensuring the availability and performance of the network infrastructure, the daily processes of the data center, and the overall support provided to Associations. Among the many technical resources used, the network monitoring wall, which provides a visual display of the network’s current performance, is of utmost importance. It enables Customer Support to recognize large network-related performance issues, often before they are felt by Associations.

Operating Level Agreements

To ensure Associations and Bank employees receive help in a timely manner, the Customer Support Center has developed and manages Operating Level Agreements (OLAs) with all Bank support teams. The OLA governs the responsiveness and communication expectations of development and maintenance teams throughout AgFirst. Senior management teams have built OLA expectations into performance measures throughout the entire organization. Team level accountability is measured monthly and reported to all managers and supervisors throughout AgFirst.

Support for Product and System Deployments

Customer Support also partners with the training department when major technical deployments or releases are planned for the production environment. Customer Support analysts participate as active members of project deployment teams for all major initiatives, ensuring comprehensive training programs are in place and all members of CSC are prepared to support Association users once the deployment goes live.