Exploring Trends in Quality Assurance and Quality Monitoring

Recently, we’ve been speaking to some contact center managers about what is happening in their centers. This feedback is important to us as we develop new products and services, and upgrade our existing solutions.

Quality Monitoring (QM) and Quality Assurance (QA) are two of the challenges that clients have mentioned most frequently. We have covered these topics in several previous blogs and articles, as well as the white paper Seven Strategies for Effective Quality Assurance.

“Yes, this is helpful,” they responded. “But is anything new going on in this field?” Are there any new ideas or trends that are working that we could try?”

The answer is yes – and no. Here we will cover some of the most recent developments in the quality monitoring and quality assurance field; however, these should not be implemented in a way that replaces the proven tools and techniques that have worked for more than a decade. The best solution would be to incorporate the new methods as an enhancement to your current strategy – assuming it is based on solid ideas and principles.

Laying the Foundation

Quality monitoring plays a key role in building the most efficient and cost-effective performance standards into day-to-day operations. What used to be comprised mainly of “after-the-fact” performance reviews has now, with the benefit of sophisticated technology, become a real-time quest to collect and respond to intelligence related to customer service. These efforts have been accelerated by recognition that the contact center is an important front-line communications hub, and the data it collects is pivotal in the company’s strategic decision-making, from marketing to resource allocation.

Today’s advanced real time quality monitoring incorporates and integrates call recording, agent coaching, performance management reports, business analytics and customer intelligence. If you are already engaged in these efforts, expedited through a workforce optimization solution designed to enhance quality assurance strategies, it is important to keep doing so.

With that foundation in place, here are some additional ideas to boost your quality assurance effort.

#1. Dissecting a Call

Rather than reviewing and scoring a call as a whole, break it down into specific parts, and grade each of these separately.

Start with the standard welcome or greeting – how is the agent delivering this opening statement, and how do most customers respond to it? Is it having the desired effect?

Next, examine how the agent responds to the customer’s reason for calling, whether it’s an order, a complaint or a question. Are they prepared? Do they need to put the caller on hold to acquire additional information? Are they following the script? Is the tone of their conversation courteous and supportive? Finally, review the closing of the call – what sort of last impression will the agent make on behalf of his or her company?

#2. The Kaizen Mindset

The Kaizen Group is a business consulting practice that advocates a holistic approach to achieving a company’s quality and organizational goals. One need not be a client of theirs to adopt what is called the Kaizen Mindset, which refers to making quality part of the process in everything a company does, and to the practice of making little changes over time, that will eventually add up to significant improvement.

This is not a top-down initiative, but one that requires every employee to identify areas of concern, identify the root causes of the issue, develop, communicate and implement countermeasure strategies, and review the results. When it’s done right, the Kaizen Mindset will make a difference, whether it is introduced into an auto manufacturing plant or a contact center. Embedding quality through small, incremental improvements can move mountains.

#3. Feedback First

How does your contact center determine whether quality performance has been achieved? Is it based on internal scoring and KPIs and other accumulated data, or on whether the customer was satisfied? Certainly one impacts the other, but at the end of the day, what really matters is the customer’s assessment of how he or she was treated. Sometimes, what a manager thinks is most important may not be the same as what the customer caress about most. So, why not let your customers define quality, and proceed based on that feedback?

#4. Speech Analytics

The contact center industry fields more than 50 million calls every day. Even if they’re all being recorded, they’re not all being reviewed. To do so would be impossible. Over the years managers have tried various methods for collecting representative samples, but none of them are as effective as speech analytics.

Speech analytics generates automated alerts triggered by voice data, whether that’s the use of profanity, or the word “cancel,” or the mention of a specific new product or service. By being alerted to these calls in real time, managers can react in time to impact their outcome, which could mean the difference between keeping and losing a customer.

In addition, with speech analytics integrated into a call recording solution, the contact center can link customer feedback with specific customer interactions; that means you are not working from a random sampling, but with a subset of calls that have been flagged as important because of the key words of phrases used by the customer.

Sure, some of this data might eventually be collected through call recording alone. But time is money in business, and with speech analytics this vital information can be accessed far more quickly, and is more detailed as well. Now managers can delve into caller patterns that will further refine the company’s customer service efforts. What used to take weeks can now be achieved in just minutes.

Speech analytics also delivers additional customer service benefits that impact agent training and overall efficiency. By exploring not just what is said on a call but how it is said – specifically the customer’s demeanor and choice of words – it is easier to discover which call center policies and procedures might need to be changed. Result? Happier customers and increased sales.

Speech analytics also delivers better marketing intelligence in other areas (at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods) while also impacting call center compliance with data protection regulations. If there is one trend in quality assurance that figures to become standard in years to come, it is this one. The critical business intelligence generated by speech analytics boosts both agent performance and the customer experience.