Call Center Case Study: Performance Evaluation in a Virtual Agent Environment

By Judy McOstrich

Free & Clear is a nationally recognized leader in the field of tobacco cessation. Its program is consistently recognized by the American Association of Health Plans’ Managed Care Achievements in Tobacco Control Awards Program. It is also acclaimed by the CDC and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a model tobacco cessation program.

With over 20 years of developing and delivering scientifically based and proven treatment programs, Free & Clear provides services that support health behavior change. With the support of partners such as the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Free & Clear has become a national leader in the development, evaluation, and delivery of evidence-based behavior change programs across the United States.

Free & Clear helps people succeed in overcoming their dependence on tobacco by employing evidence-based and innovative treatment methods. Free & Clear currently runs the tobacco quit lines for 16 states and contracts with more than 100 health plans and employers to provide tobacco cessation services.

The Free & Clear Coaching Center is the center of the organization’s operation as the essence of its mission is working with participants to eliminate their tobacco habits. It is staffed with 195 agents; 112 of whom work from home. Seven supervisors work with the 195 agents.

To evaluate its agents in the past, Free & Clear used voice-activated tape recorders that were spliced into the phone line to record calls for later review. Supervisors had to plan ahead of time when to record a call, then manually start and stop the recording. If a supervisor was out, that supervisor’s team would not be recorded. All evaluations were first handwritten. Then, supervisors would enter only the high-level evaluation data into a separate database. From time to time, changes were made on the paper evaluation form of skills to be monitored, but the database was not updated with the changes. Also, if an agent requested that a particular call be evaluated, chances were the call had not been recorded.

With a new performance evaluation system, Free & Clear can record significantly more calls than was possible with the tape recorder system. This allows agents to receive feedback on a particular call of their choosing because there’s a much greater likelihood that the call was recorded. The solution also records agents’ screens, helping supervisors identify knowledge and skills gaps, improving center efficiency and effectiveness. It is a flexible and scalable solution that meets today’s needs and supports future growth. Free & Clear now has the support it needs to improve agent performance in a distributed environment, improving center efficiency and effectiveness in helping thousands of clients improve their health.

“Working within a hybrid virtual environment where more than 50 percent of our agents work from home is challenging,” stated Andrew Roberts, Call Quality Manager at Free & Clear. “We can quickly and easily identify agent knowledge and skill gaps and consistently coach to improve our performance, helping more of our clients to quit smoking.”


  • Increased number of calls recorded (from 510 calls per month to 51,000)
  • Increased the effectiveness of coaching sessions because agents could review calls beforehand and actively participate in the process
  • Recorded screen shots allow supervisors to identify agent knowledge and skill gaps and provide coaching to improve agent efficiency and effectiveness


  • Tobacco quit lines for 16 states and 100 employer health plans
  • 195 coaching center agents
  • 112 agents work from home
  • 3,000 inbound and outbound calls per day 34% success rate
  • Telephone system: Avaya – VoIP technology
  • Envision Performance Suite

Judy McOstrich is Director of Marketing & Inside Sales for Envision Telephony, developer of the Envision Performance Suite, which integrates call center recording, eLearning, workforce management, and business intelligence functions.

[From the August/September 2007 issue of AnswerStat magazine]