Continuous improvement is a staple of call center strategy, and to drive operations in a forward direction, decision-makers need to implement a strong quality assurance program. While most organizations have a set of QA measures in place, few managers take full advantage of best practices and technologies available to fortify their efforts.
Since call center QA is such a multi-faceted endeavor, strategists must approach their programs from a variety of angles and with an open mind. To help these leaders develop the most effective and risk-averse strategy they possibly can, here is a guide to mastering quality assurance in the modern call center.
“Call center QA is a multi-faceted program.”
1. Have a clear vision of quality: At the root of every strong QA program is a thoroughly defined set of standards that every agent, supervisor and team must meet – and ideally exceed – on a regular basis. Leading call centers are tuned into the concept of customer experience and consider the entire service journey of the caller from sales to support and follow-up feedback. In crafting QA standards, decision-makers need to account for the full spectrum of interaction.
As customer experience thought leader Ashutosh Anil pointed out in a recent article for LinkedIn, call center managers should try to “begin with the end in mind” as they define the parameters of quality assurance. Mapping out a vision of the perfect caller experience will help the team understand what is expected of them, and ensure that any QA programs are designed to bring the operation closer to that ideal. Perfection can never be expected, but starting with a highly detailed game plan is the only way to promote ongoing improvement.
2. Determine metrics and KPIs: While supervisors may quickly reach an agreement on what constitutes an exceptional caller experience, they cannot execute a QA program without quantitative measures pointing them in the right direction. Metrics such as first call resolution rates, average call handle time and after-call work time should all be guiding lights in the quest for quality. Anil recommened that to get a more comprehensive view of the call center’s performance, leaders should consult customer-facing team members and other decision-makers, as this will bridge gaps overlooked by upper management.
“Make sure you get your [call] center involved in defining the criteria,” suggested Anil. “The last thing they need is another rule or policy that has been imposed on them. Having a team of people design the call quality procedure makes them advocates and champions to the cause.”
3. Empower staff with technology: Unless call center managers have the tools to identify quality gaps and target areas for improvement, a QA program will surely fall flat out of the gate. Call recording and call accounting technology can offer much-needed insight into the current strengths and weaknesses of the workforce, and streamline the improvement process with intuitive scoring and reporting capabilities. As Anil pointed out in his article, such technology can provide a jumping-off point for QA, if incorporated correctly.
“You can then make informed decisions to make the process better, faster and quicker, e.g. implement or refine agent training and coaching initiatives to bridge skills gaps, correct broken internal processes, improve workforce scheduling, or perhaps alert other areas of the organization that are having an impact,” explained Anil in his LinkedIn blog article.
At the end of the day, no two call centers will have an identical vision of quality or set of metrics. It’s up to managerial leaders to set forth a clear direction for their teams and implement the necessary technology to achieve those objectives.