Offering a quality service to customers over the phone is a huge priority for businesses. But who defines what good looks like?
Due to the complexity involved, Quality Assurance (QA) processes can sometimes be fairly arbitrary. For example, is it fair that when a customer service agent handles on average over 600 calls a month that we judge their capability and level of customer service on as few as three monitored calls a month?
Is it fair that one call scored as 79% overall is classed as a fail, but another call that scores 81% is good enough? Does the fact that the agent used the customer’s name twice on the call necessarily make it a good experience?
This is made even worse when you introduce human judgement in making subjective decisions on whether a call exhibits empathy, ownership, or other emotive areas. All this can make it difficult for operational teams to trust quality programmes and any resulting reward and recognition (or additional training).
As a result, it is often the case in contact centres that a QA process is not used as a development tool but as a monthly event that breeds either anxiety when targets are not met, or relief if they are. The question is how to implement a robust QA process that really delivers value into an organisation whilst not adding extra resource costs to already stretched budgets.
So, what is the solution? Perhaps it would be helpful to take a step back and think about what the QA process is there to do in the first place. Fundamentally, contact centres need to ensure that two things happen on calls:
- Customer needs are met: A level of service that meets the customers’ expectations in a friendly manner at the same time as demonstrating that the agent had the skills and knowledge to handle the query
- Business needs are met: Ensure that any regulatory requirements were met on the call (I.e. Data Protection, FCA guidelines) at the same time as following the correct processes.
A solution we have seen work involves looking at customer and business needs separately and taking any subjectivity out of the process. This means setting up a separate QA team that is purely focused on key business needs, i.e. ensuring regulatory compliance and making sure agents are following correct business processes? Focusing on these parts of a call and not having to fill out lengthy feedback forms would enable more volume to be put through QA teams (which in turn would help organisations demonstrate compliance more robustly).
But what about monitoring levels of customer service? How do you make sure agents are really meeting the customer’s needs if you shift the focus of your QA teams to purely compliance and business processes? I would answer that the very best way of measuring service is to use actual customer feedback and scores to measure your agents’ performance. Your agents are there to support customers, so getting their objective feedback has much more relevance and power than asking for a supposedly independent monitor’s view. The key to being able to use customer feedback in a QA process include:
- Robust levels of feedback per month (suggested 20 per agent per month)
- Feedback has to be accountable at an individual level
- Agents can’t know which calls could be scored
- Being able to link scores and feedback to CRM/ call recording systems
Change a QA process to a model like this is not simple and requires buy-in from various stakeholders in an organisation. But once implemented the benefits can be huge – not least of which is improved engagement from all levels of staff, who will see this as a much fairer way to assess skill and competence.
Also the volume of ‘monitored’ calls would jump up from the standard of 3-5 calls per month to over 20 per member of staff. An added benefit is the business insight that would be generated from customer verbatim comments that can help drive improvements to the customer journey.
A good QA programme can really drive performance in frontline teams – is that something you can say about your current process? If not, maybe it’s time to incorporate the only opinion that really matters: your customer’s.