Quality Management in 2014: Success, or Time to Start Over?
“Quality,” that elusive attribute for which a contact center strives, can sometimes be as hard to achieve as it is to define. But maintaining quality is critical in every aspect of a company’s operation, and especially in the contact center where thousands of people have their first experience with how a company treats its customers. A positive impression can lead to a long and profitable relationship; a bad one can end it before it has a chance to start. If you have a quality management program, the end of the year is a good time to review the results, and assess whether it has achieved its goals, or if changes are necessary. If you don’t yet have a quality management program, this is also the right time to think about putting one in place. Whether the objective is to start a program or refine an existing one, here are a few questions that will help achieve better results.
What are the goals of the program?
Clearly define your contact center quality monitoring goals, which should be based largely on what your customers deem as necessary to excellent service delivery. You can discover the specifics of what your customers want through feedback from agents and operations teams, as well as customer satisfaction surveys.
Is everyone on the same page?
Sometimes contact center performance metrics and quality guidelines get in each other’s way. Clear expectations should be set based on customer experience. If a metric like average handle time has to occasionally be set aside so an agent can spend a few more moments and keep a customer, such actions should not only be allowed, but encouraged. Also, check that your quality associates are scoring employees the same way, so the program remains consistent and repeatable.
Are you working with sufficient data?
It’s important to monitor a large enough sample to ensure quality for individuals and the group as a whole. And make sure your quality management efforts extend beyond the telephone and encompass the work that agents to on their computers as well. Agents must be accurate with their after-call work in order to avoid a repeat call with an angry customer.
Have you set performance goals and rewarded achievement?
Institute specific performance goals – and make sure they are the right goals – then hold agents accountable for their achievement. Reward outstanding employees for their performance, so they know their work is appreciated. A financial bonus is always welcome, but make sure their work is also recognized within the company, so it serves as a positive example for other agents to follow.
Are you starting with agents from day one?
Contact centers experience a lot of employee turnover. Because of that, managers sometimes have to play catch-up just to maintain adequate staffing. But quality management relies on agents that are qualified and well trained from day one, and are familiar with the role they must play in the business. It’s not just about answering phones – it’s engaging with each customer, empathizing with their situation, and having the knowledge to answer questions and the right temperament to work through difficult situations.
Who monitors the monitors?
Quality audits will provide accountability and a standard of performance management for your quality team. But this will only happen if your quality monitoring team, those responsible for call analysis and agent coaching and feedback, are also being audited regularly.
Are you testing before implementation?
When launching a quality management program, or making changes to an existing program, a “pilot phase” is recommended before rolling out these efforts to the entire organization. This will help identify potential issues, and allow you to make adjustments before the full launch of your program.
Do you have the right technology in place?
Of all the questions that should be asked about establishing or maintaining a quality management program, this could be the most important. Measuring quality manually is long and arduous process, that is made much more efficient when relevant data is accurately compiled and analyzed automatically. The most effective way to measure contact center quality is call monitoring. By listening to a statistically valid sample of customer telephone interactions and scoring them against various criteria, companies can learn if their agents are performing effectively, and ensure that the agents most in need of coaching actually get it. And yet, many contact centers have still not implemented an automated call monitoring solution, and are thus not gathering the measurable metrics that can only be garnered through effective call monitoring and evaluation. Before selecting a technology solution, or launching any quality assurance effort, three additional questions should be asked:
- Will it improve agent performance?
- Will the data we collect improve efficiency?
- Will our call center monitoring solution protect us from a legal challenge?
Choose the Right Call Monitoring Software
Without the right software, a quality assurance program is going to struggle. Monitoring of customer interactions should be simple for agents, and the intelligence gathered through the system should be easy to analyze for managers. Also, consider future growth – the software you select should be able to grow with your company, and meet your needs not only today but tomorrow.
Establish and Follow Best Practices
Call monitoring software is a tool that can provide great benefits to a call center, but will only pay dividends when used consistently to help that call center follow the proper procedures and meet the standards set for agents and managers. Every capability of the software, from call assessment and playback to evaluation questionnaires and reporting, should be utilized toward this goal.
Calls are saved so they can be recalled later, either for training purposes or to help settle a customer concern or legal matter. Use call monitoring software to automatically capture and secure all audio transactions. Monitoring software should also be used in a way that is consistent with federal government and respective industry guidelines on call recording.
Strategic planning is the key to success in quality management. These questions will allow you to take a closer look at your program and make changes based on the needs of your business in 2015 and beyond.
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