What do call center quality and your car have in common? One major factor:
For many folks, maintenance is done completely ad hoc.
Consider your car maintenance—if you’re like many, you ignore it completely until there’s an obvious issue, or a flashing red maintenance light alerts you to a problem. Rather than regularly checking oil levels and ensuring your tires are at the optimal pressure regularly, you probably simply wait for a warning light—or worse—to indicate you need to make a change.
Call center quality is often handled similarly—pushed to the backburner until there’s a glaring issue or a flashing red light indicating a major problem.
While this is common, it’s not the most effective way to ensure you are delivering quality service consistently—and it also holds back many call centers from improvement. Worse, it can result in major problems that could have been avoided if quality had been a priority from the beginning.
The solution? A consistent quality control process can help achieve ongoing focus on implementing and improving quality. Whether your call center already has flashing red quality lights or whether you’re trying to avoid getting to that point, these five tactics will help you start improving your call center quality—and quality processes—right away.
Establishing Quality Control Processes
First things first: in order to improve your call center quality control, you’ll need to establish baseline metrics—understanding where you are now—as well as define KPIs for the future—understanding where you want to be.
What KPIs and metrics are most important for your call center?
That depends on your goals, and where your current baseline metrics are at. We always recommend these 8 key metrics for call centers to track, but there are others that may be more relevant for your goals.
At the very least, every call center should be tracking:
- CSAT (customer satisfaction)
- FCR (first contact resolution)
- AHT (average handle time)
- Average abandonment rate
Once you’ve determined your baseline metrics and your KPIs, you’ll need to establish quality control processes, like a QA (quality assurance) process, checklists and scripts, a call monitoring system and so on.
A solid QA process allows you to drive continuous improvement and deliver consistent quality at every customer checkpoint. At Global Response, if there’s one thing we know, it’s that excellent customer experience is never an accident—instead, it can be strategically accomplished through quality control processes. Typically, this process involves recording calls and customer interactions, then reviewing them after against a set checklist of quality standards. Most importantly, QA processes should:
- be ongoing
- target every channel that you’re active on
- integrate with your key metrics
- provide actionable insights and results
Creating scripts is another important aspect of implementing quality control. This should be a high-investment project that gets continually updated and changed as customer needs change or best practices become more evident. While agents shouldn’t be forced to follow a script exactly, not having scripts at all—or having poorly designed ones—lowers the quality and efficiency of agent performance.
Finally, you’ll also need to ensure you have a call monitoring system in place to actually review and monitor quality. Make sure that this system is both comprehensive—it allows you to monitor interactions across all channels, not just voice calls—and actionable. While software can help you record and monitor interactions, getting bogged down in reviewing recordings doesn’t necessarily ensure improvement. Having deliberate quality checklists that provide actionable feedback and next steps to improve quality is an essential component as well.
Providing Ongoing Training and Coaching
Speaking of actionable feedback, providing ongoing training and coaching for agents is a key element of call center quality control. Without regular feedback for your agents, quality will not improve. Feedback for your agents should follow the TAR method—that is, feedback should be:
What does this look like practically? Here’s an example of how we implement each of the elements of TAR feedback.
Timely: Provide real-time feedback and coaching.
The closer to the interactions the coaching and feedback happens, the more effective it will be. Waiting until a 6-month (or worse, annual) review with an agent is too late to provide effective coaching, especially as it pertains to specific calls or interactions. Ideally, agents should receive feedback and coaching regularly—perhaps on a weekly basis—in order to realistically apply it to their performance.
If you notice quality declining, either with a specific agent or across the board, it should be addressed right away. This is a key reason why QA processes need to be nimble and continuous—so that you can address issues immediately and create immediate impact.
Actionable: Offer skills-based training and refresher courses.
Not-so-fun fact: 62% of call center agents say that “more skills-based training would improve their performance.” If you can increase skills-based training for your agents, not only will it improve your agent’s experiences and performance and make your customer experience better, but it will make you a more competitive place to work and improve agent retention as well.
The most important takeaway is that training for agents should be ongoing—not a one-time event that happens during the onboarding process and then never again. Instead, skills-based training and refresher courses are:
- an effective way to keep your team sharp and improve quality of service
- an efficient use of downtime and idle time
- an opportunity for agents to learn from one another—more experienced agents can coach newer agents
Providing quality scores or results from quality assurance processes to agents can often be intangible—agents aren’t sure what to do next to improve. Pairing QA processes with skills-based training and coaching sessions can help agents improve quality of service with actionable, practical coaching.
Relevant: Make the feedback and coaching specific to each agent.
If a particular agent has the highest CSAT scores in the team, why would you have them sit through a basic presentation on empathy for customers?
Rather than collating all the data from your QA process and sending it out to the entire team (“We need to reduce handle time!”), send agents specific feedback from their calls (“We reviewed several calls of yours last week, and we wanted to help you work on becoming more efficient when doing XYZ.”)
Similarly, instead of providing general training for your entire team, you can segment your training based on specific feedback for each agent related to their own calls and customer communications. Of course, if your call center is large, doing this is more difficult, but it’s the best way to improve quality regularly. Figure out which agents are struggling most with which KPIs, and run trainings for those agents based on those skills. Consider having more experienced agents create some of the materials or run a coaching session.
Ensuring Consistency Across Channels
Once you’ve established a solid QA process and implemented regular channels for feedback and coaching among agents, you’re halfway there.
However, there’s a few more things to consider when it comes to call center quality control. The first being that you need to ensure that your quality is consistent across all your channels. For many contact centers, it’s easy to focus on voice calls and ignore the other communication channels they might be overseeing.
That said, if you’re designing a QA process and using an omnichannel or multichannel approach, be sure your QA monitoring and rubric spans all your channels. You don’t need to monitor or review every individual interaction, but you should be monitoring a representative sample of everything. By doing so, you can better ensure consistent quality and branding across all customer touchpoints.
Start by establishing standard operating procedures for all channels. Your support, quality service levels, scripts and so on should be unified across all customer touchpoints. This doesn’t mean that you should have the same scripts on each channel, but rather that each channel should be consistent within itself and should have consistent tone, branding, and language across channels.
In order to do this, you’ll need to have unified messaging and branding to begin with. Scripts can help define this and implement this—as you define how you want agents to interact with your customers, you can begin to define who your brand is and how you communicate. Working with an external partner, like an outsourced team, can help clarify and bring unity to your branding and messaging.
This becomes even more important as you implement an omnichannel strategy. If customers are truly to have an omnichannel experience, their experiences and support needs to be consistent no matter where they contact your brand, whether that’s through a Twitter DM or a phone call.
Implementing the right tools and technology across all channels is a major way to increase consistency in branding and quality as well. With omnichannel software, you can unify your customer’s experiences by collating all customer data and history in one place, plus access scripts, messaging guides and more. This gives agents what they need to provide seamless experiences, and delivers quality experiences for customers no matter where they are in their journey.
Engaging Customers for Feedback and Improvement
A simple, yet effective way to improve call center quality control: ask your customers how you can improve! After all, they’re the ones actually using and experiencing your customer service—what is their experience like? And what would they like it to be like?
While it seems simple, it’s an underutilized tactic that works well. To begin, simply start gathering customer feedback through surveys and online reviews. Post-call CSAT surveys are a common (and near-effortless) way to gather feedback. NPS surveys are also practical and can yield relevant insights.
While CSAT surveys focus on the specific interaction (i.e. “How was your call today? Did you get the answer you needed? How would you rate your interaction on a scale of 1-10?”), NPS focuses more on their overall impression of the brand (i.e. “How likely would you be to refer us to a friend?”). Both of these data points in combination are valuable for understanding both individual interactions and your customer experience on the whole.
In addition, online reviews and social listening tools can help you monitor customer sentiment and feedback, even if you haven’t specifically requested it. Social listening software can also help you monitor customer sentiment across the internet—in places where your customers are “hanging out” and talking to their friends. Sentiment analysis software can collate this data and give you insights into how your customers feel after their experiences with your brand, allowing you to determine where and how to improve your service.
Of course, be sure to actually incorporate this customer feedback into your improvement efforts. Gathering feedback is a great start, but it needs to be actioned to truly be useful. Many successful companies provide customer feedback directly to agents and managers, where relevant, allowing agents to see the direct impacts (positive or negative) of their work.
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Emphasizing Continuous Improvement and Innovation
Finally, keeping continuous improvement and innovation at the heart of your quality control processes will ensure your service levels continue to improve over time, rather than spiking for a season and then falling again.
Here are four ways to keep quality control and improvement at the forefront of your team’s agenda:
- Recognize and reward quality performance.
Of course, what we reward is what we receive. If agents are rewarded for quality performance, it can motivate them to succeed as well as create a culture of quality across the organization. Many organizations may take it a step further and determine earning potential and bonuses based on QA metrics and success, empowering agents with the tools and agency they need to create their own success.
- Conduct regular audits of QA processes.
As discussed above, quality assurance shouldn’t be a “one-and-done” item. Instead, your quality processes should evolve based on best practices, trends you’re seeing, new workflow techniques and so on. Conducting regular audits of both your quality rubrics and the processes for monitoring and reviewing quality can help you uncover what’s working and what isn’t. Don’t forget to involve agents and managers in this process—after all, they’re the ones using and implementing the results of it, so they likely have relevant ideas for making the process more effective.
- Implement data analytics and reporting to identify trends and opportunities
Analyzing and regularly reporting on internal data, in short, helps you identify trends and opportunities faster—allowing you to stay ahead of your competition.
For many companies, this is an element of call center quality control that gets outsourced. Outsourced teams often have access to best-in-class software and technology to provide high-quality data analytics and advanced reporting, and it frees up internal teams to focus on strategy and execution. Whether you work on your data in-house or outsource it, though, having a way to regularly identify new trends— positive or negative—can help you continuously improve your quality of service.
- Explore new technology to enhance quality control efforts
State-of-the-art technology helps improve quality, both in the execution of your service and the analysis of it. For example, modern technologies make it easier to record and monitor conversations across all channels, while analyzing these conversations for quality markers, script adherence, emotional intelligence, and sentiment. Using technology for this review means you free up time for your team to focus on improvement and strategy, while enabling more consistent quality processes.
If you’re struggling to implement or stay on top of the latest technology, QA processes and software, outsourcing can again be a resource. With another team that can focus entirely on supporting you with QA processes, give you access to best-in-class technology and bring decades of experience in the CX space, outsourcing can supercharge your quality control efforts.
Where do I begin?
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to quality control and improving your call center service levels, working with a team of experts can help you navigate your next steps and get the results you want.
Our team at Global Response has 40+ years of experience in the CX space, and we’ve worked with a variety of industries to improve quality at every touchpoint, drive customer engagement and support business growth. Whether you need a helping hand designing or implementing quality control processes, taking advantage of the best technology, or strengthening your customer satisfaction, Global Response is here to help.
Connect with a Global Response expert today and see how we can help you accomplish your goals.