3 Key Quality Management Strategies for SMB Call Centers

How not to get overwhelmed when you’re new to QM

When you’re just getting started with quality management (QM), it can be overwhelming. It’s impossible to change everything in the contact center at once, so where should the organization focus its effort to drive the biggest quality improvements early on?

Sad to say, it will depend on the company, but there are proven ways to target initiatives for maximum benefit. The tools built into QM software, including contact recording and analytics, will make the process faster and easier. But even if you’re stuck with spreadsheets for now, the following strategies can still apply.

YOY Trend Analysis

Most contact center managers will run reports tracking various quality metrics over time. Such trend analyses help answer a basic but important question—are we getting better? If a particular QM metric is on an upswing, that’s great. And if not, at least you know what needs work.

Although weekly and monthly trends are important management tools, it can be difficult to separate signal from noise and drive steady QM progress. Examining quality over longer timeframes, such as year over year (YOY), can be more informative.

For example, quality can be especially challenging to maintain during the holiday rush, when many SMB call centers have recently staffed up and high contact volumes make upskilling and other quality-improvement measures difficult to fit in. Rather than getting discouraged if QM metrics dip modestly during this period, consider doing a YOY trend analysis. Where you see falloff or limited improvement compared to similar “crunch times” of the past, direct some attention there.

Outlier Identification

When you get new toys, it’s easy to go overboard. (We will not admit to how much Angry Birds we played on our first smartphone.)

This even applies to SMB call centers that invest in QM software with call recording and storage capabilities. Suddenly, they’re reviewing as many recorded contacts as possible, until the personnel devoted to QM get burnt out on the constant scoring.

If you’re on overload, it might be time for outlier identification. In the simplest terms, this strategy involves identifying oddball cases and asking why the contacts fall outside the norm. It inherently brings attention to areas most in need of a fix.

For instance, you might examine interactions that went especially well, maybe resulting in high-dollar sales, and compare them the ones with the worst outcomes. What quality factors make the difference? Or what about looooong calls? Why are agents struggling to meet these customers’ needs quickly?

Outliers will exist for nearly every metric. Reviewing these contacts specifically is a powerful, efficient alternative to endless random monitoring and can prompt changes in call flow and scripting, agent resources, training and other quality-improvement tactics.

Test & Monitor

Both trend analysis and outlier identification can be combined with a version of “trial and error,” which we’ll call “test and monitor” (because it sounds more positive that way!).

Much like driving a car, QM is typically about modest steering adjustments, not sharp swerves in direction. Sure, there may be times when a team or an entire call center needs to make an immediate about-face on a point of compliance to avoid regulatory issues, but QM adjustments to improve customer experience will usually be subtle. Incremental change may not feed our desire for instant gratification, but it’s effective in boosting quality in a sustainable manner.

Many SMB call centers want to increase agents’ empathy, for example, but there’s no easy answer for that. You might try adding a new training activity to help new agents understand the customer’s perspective or ask managers to make a point about “caring” in pre-shift meetings. No matter what you choose, make one small change at time, not one hundred and one. That way, the QM team can monitor the metrics and see if it worked.

This approach makes quality management more, well, manageable for SMBs. Coming up with one idea to improve one quality metric at a time isn’t too intimidating. And if at first you don’t succeed…you know the drill.

We recognize that SMB call center managers sometimes feel like there is a QM playbook to which only their large competitors have access. Not so! Every contact center has to get started with QM at some point and find their own way.

But we do have a resource that can help. “Getting Started with Quality Management” covers all the basics of QM with helpful tips to get you on your way to shaping the best QM strategies for your business. Watch the on-demand webinar here.



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