“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein
Most call center operations monitor call quality. Their purpose for monitoring calls is chiefly to manage compliance, i.e., confirming a customer’s ID, giving disclaimers, being clear and articulate about price and billing, etc. Those criteria may have become outdated, or worse, out of sync with the goals of the organization. Strictly monitoring calls for compliance can be a big missed opportunity.
Experience has consistently found that most quality programs don’t contribute to success in KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or customer experience. There’s a fair chance your organization’s call center Quality Assurance (QA) is adding cost without increasing revenue.
Managing an effective quality program involves an iterative process of measurement, assessment, refinement and implementation. You can’t solve a problem that you don’t understand; without solid assessment, the most you can do is reduce noncompliance.
Getting an actionable assessment means gathering deeper insights about your customers and understanding the behaviors that drive KPI achievement … filtering the crucial information out of the data to identify correlations, i.e., the behaviors that matter … and taking actions to reinforce those behaviors to ensure they are practiced consistently.
Quality is, by far, the single most underleveraged resource in contact centers. QA can and should be a strategic lever to drive performance improvement and learn more about your customers.
The Challenge with Conventional QA Programs
Most conventional QA programs haven’t changed much in 20 years. Many organizations sense that they’re not working, or that they’re not getting value from them. Here’s why.
- Measuring the Wrong Behaviors: The behaviors that QA measures often just don’t matter to driving KPIs such as Customer Satisfaction, Sales, Retention, or First Call Resolution. Weber Associates has found that 9 out of 10 QA Programs measure behaviors that have zero correlation to the most important KPIs.
- Dictating Reps’ Behavior: QA often turns reps into robots, forcing them to follow a checklist of behaviors rather than listening to the customer and focusing on making their experience a positive one.
- Noise in the Data: It is often unclear-and almost always unquantified-how well calibrated the organization is … meaning the organization is probably not as well calibrated as they suspect. And if QA isn’t calibrated, how clear and compelling are their scores?
- QA Perceived as Not Adding Value: The Reps resist, resent, or at best tolerate QA feedback … but rarely actually change their behaviors in positive ways.
- Leadership isn’t Listening: Leadership dismisses QA insights because they aren’t compelling or actionable. One of the most telling stories one executive told us was this: “We monitored over 500,000 calls last year. I didn’t open up Quality Assurance’s report a single time. There’s just no value in it.”
This last point is particularly troubling. If it’s not helping, why keep doing it that way? When done right, QA improves the customer experience and consequently increases satisfaction and retention-which are measurable and profitable.
A Strategic Quality Assurance (sQA) initiative focuses on driving measureable improvement in overall value. sQA incorporates these five key components:
- Embrace Subjectivity in Behaviors: Define the behaviors that reflect the essence of your ideal customer interaction-not the details. This means avoiding the temptation to codify “black and white” behaviors. Rather, clarify the intent and make it a performance standard.
- Measure Correlations: Analyze the relationship between behaviors and KPIs to determine if those behaviors are truly correlated with success.
- Automate Calibration: Reduce your reliance on labor-intensive calibration meetings, and build a rigorous process using commercially available tools
- Foster the Human Connection: Take steps to make your quality agents stakeholders in the process rather than adversaries to the front line.
- Certify & Continuously Improve: Regularly measure the health of your sQA Program, “tighten” it every year, and ensure it stays aligned to the customer experience and your evolving business priorities.
There’s both an art and a science to managing quality. These key components help ensure that sQA reflects the essentially human interaction between customers and reps, and at the same time, is rigorous, quantifiable, and replicable. When taken together, these best practices will help transform your quality program into a strategic driver of customer experience and KPIs.