Close your eyes, lightly fall asleep, and recall this exact dream…
You are a business owner.
Your business relies on call, maybe you have a call center, do you?
Your agents provide excellent customer service, thus your customers are happy to be your customers.
Let me tell you. It doesn’t have to be a dream.
There is an actual way to make sure the service your agents provide is on-point and your customers’ level of satisfaction is top.
The solution is: Call Center Quality Assurance.
What is that, right? Sounds… numb.
Although it seems to be another boring term, call center quality assurance is a process that helps you keep customer satisfaction on point through monitoring your agents’ work. It doesn’t mean you have to stay behind the agent’s back, glazing at his or her monitor all day long – nor should you!
Call center quality assurance is all about measuring the right metrics with the proper tools to better understand how your call center operates – your agents, namely – and how well are your customers satisfied.
Today, we’re going to go through best practices and tips that will help you carry out the process of quality monitoring in your call center, so you can take it for granted that your agents are giving their bests while your customers are proud to be your customers!
Let’s just jump into it.
What is Call Center Quality Assurance all about
So far, we’ve briefly introduced what call center quality assurance is.
Now we know that it doesn’t necessarily correspond to a single action or theory. It rather describes the whole process that a call center should implement as part of their work to operate on a proper level.
While it may seem intuitive, the business owner might not be the best person to carry out such a process. Oftentimes, it is better to outsource such a process or at least to have another entity responsible just for this specific task. We’re going to delve into that later on.
While call center quality assurance, as the name describes, is all about making sure that the quality of service you provide is on a top-notch level, it can also help a call center to optimize their costs, as well as, become more efficient in regards to other work-related processes.
Finding out what metrics you should be focusing on, what are the best ways to train your agents, and which one is the best script that your agents should use can not only improve the quality of the service, it can also result in building a less stressful work environment in which agents are more efficient whilst providing great service.
What is more, call center quality assurance is a process that makes you rethink how each of the processes that take place in your company is carried out.
Instead of focusing on agents themselves, you should strive to optimize how the whole call center works as an entity. This way, you’ll find the areas that lack efficiency and need improvement and at the same time you’ll notice which ventures bring you the most of profits, so you can double down on them and make even more.
Now, that we exactly know what call center quality assurance is all about, let’s talk about useful call center quality assurance tips and practices that will help you with the call center QA process.
Use customer feedback
Who knows what customers want better than customers themselves, huh?
That’s right. And that’s also why you should be asking your customers about their opinion on the service your agents provide.
If they’re satisfied, great, let it be. Yet, if they were upset about how one of your agents did treat him or her, I bet you’ll get a lesson on how customer service should look like!
You can gather customer feedback through various means. You can use surveys, quizzes, emails, pop-up surveys, and more.
The point is to make it easy to provide feedback. Your customers are already flooded with various tasks so you don’t want to gift them one more to-do on their list.
As you gather the feedback, you’ll notice what needs to be improved and what needs to be dumped as soon as possible.
Set clear goals
There is no way your agents will improve if they don’t know what are the expectations.
You must stress what’s important and what is not, so your agents know exactly what to focus on during their work.
Oftentimes, it is better to be good at a few things, rather than trying to be perfect at everything. Thus, you shouldn’t expect that your agents will become masters of every craft.
It will be much more beneficial – for you and your agents – if you choose which corresponding aspects of their work and your business should be prioritized so they know what features should they bring to perfection.
Choose the right software to monitor calls and their quality
You must start well.
As you probably know, it is way harder to fix what’s broken than it is to take care of it beforehand. That’s why you should be thinking about the call center quality assurance process as you’re implementing the software of your choice.
Every call center needs proper software to manage all of its calling efforts. Yet, this software should not only be able to place and take calls but also to monitor all of the important metrics in regards to the work of your agents.
Call recording and live listening are both handy features that will help you make sure that the quality of the calls that go in and out of your call center is on point.
All in all, make sure to use the software that meets all of your expectations, both in terms of the call-wise features, as well as, the quality-measuring ones.
Decide on call center quality metrics
You can’t measure everything. That’s quite obvious.
Because of that, you need to focus on what’s most important to you in terms of the quality your call center provides.
Remember the first tip?
“I do!” (it’s not like I wrote it…) – Set clear goals, that was.
Right, what if the goal is clear but you don’t know how to measure it?
If your goal is to keep the quality of outbound calls on a proper level, it is a clear goal, but what exactly does the “proper level” mean? That’s where call center quality metrics will happen to be quite useful. You simply have to decide on your goals and then on how you’ll measure them. For the quality of the calls, it might be the lack of complaints that your customers make in regards to poor call quality.
Using metrics will also help you communicate with your agents as they’ll be able to measurably see how they’re doing.
If you don’t know what call center quality metrics you should be focusing on, we’ve put out a 4-part article on TOP 20 Call Center Metrics. Here, you’ll find the first part!
Record calls and use recordings
Again, we’re going to do a little throwback and head to one of the previous tips. Choose the right software, to be exact.
There, we’ve stressed you use a proper calling software that would let you use such features as call recordings and live listening. So now, we’re going to double down on that first solution.
Call recordings can be extremely useful for various reasons, but the one that interests us the most as we’re talking about call center quality monitoring is the ability to do an instant quality check whenever you want.
If a particular customer complains about the poor call quality, you can quickly go back to that call and examine whether that was the case and if it turns to be true, investigate whether the problem occurs because of you or maybe because of some of your providers.
Nonetheless, you should record your calls and make use of it. If you’d like to find out the other purpose that a call recording could serve, head straight to one of our articles on call center agents’ training.
Hire a quality assurance manager
As we’ve mentioned before, it might seem intuitive to say that the one who is the most appropriate to take care of the process of monitoring the quality of the whole call center is the owner or at least a C-level employee.
Yet, the best choice might be to hire a separate manager who would take care of the whole process. That solution works great as such a manager can devote all of his time and effort to monitoring the quality of the call center.
QA manager, as that’s the full name of the role, can help you get some weight off the team leaders who would normally be responsible for such actions.
Yes, these awful call scripts…
I know that there is a stigma around the topic of call scripts, but let me tell you – there is no better way to semi-passively even the calls quality that your call center consultants make than with the usage of call scripts.
And let me tell you – even more – call scripts don’t have to make you sound like a robot nor make a call unpleasant for the recipient. The thing is to find the right balance. Outline what has to be said according to the script, as well as, what part of the call should be unscripted. This way you’ll get a proper balance between what should be pre-planned and improvised making a call sound natural.
Creating the perfect call script isn’t an easy task, yet, always opt to optimize the script you use. Polish it as time goes and update it according to how it performs.
If you’d like to create your script – here – you’ll find an expert-made guide on how to build the best cold calling scripts.
At all costs, you should implement training as a part of your call center agent’s job.
Because it is a clear win-win situation. They get better at their job (employees’ benefit), you get more skilled employees (your benefit).
Thus, it is an easy conclusion that training should be one of the processes of the job in the call center. From the call center quality assurance process perspective, it is crucial as when your agents get better and more experienced they become less likely to do mistakes, which should result in better customer satisfaction.
Also, more skilled agents will be able to truthfully answer your customers’ queries which also correlates to an assurance of customer service quality. After all, satisfying your customers is what you should strive for.
For tips on how to train call center agents, check out this article with 33 Tips For Training Call Center Agents. It includes a handy PDF so you can go through all the tips whenever you need to.
Use employees’ feedback
If customers are the ones who know their needs and wants the best then who knows better what it is like to be your employee?
“Hmm…” – let me think. “Oh yes!” – Your employees!
They know exactly what it is like to do the job you want them to do, thus they’re also the ones who can help you optimize the whole process, analyze it, and pinpoint its weak aspects.
The most important thing is that you should treat this feedback seriously. Many organizations, companies, and entities do collect feedback from their employees just for the sake of it.
If you want your employees to feel like you disrespect them you’re on a good way. Yet, if you want to make sure the way they work is optimized so the quality of the service they provide is on point, gather the feedback and use it to make their work better, less stressful, and more efficient.
Make call center quality assurance an ongoing process
Many people do dream about one-night-stands, yet when it comes to reality most of them choose a stable relationship.
Why is that and what does it have to do with the call center quality assurance?
It’s because instead of doing a certain thing once and then trying to repeat it irregularly, it is much more convenient to decide on one action, double down on it, and make it an integral part of life.
Following this analogy, the same decisions should be taken when it comes to implementing QA in your call center’s workflow. QA should never be a one-night stand. Instead, it should be a stable relationship that is an integral part of your work.
You don’t want to take care of the quality of customer service for a month just to see it drop significantly one week after. To make sure your call center consultants follow through with the QA process make it an integral part of their work.
Focus on caller experience
It’s easy to fall into trap of optimizing your business just so it is more efficient, less cost-consuming, and better optimized. It’s all good but you should never forget about the actual target which is – your customer.
When optimizing for better quality always take the caller experience as the reference point, as in the end, it’s all that matters.
Think of the whole process as you’d be the caller himself. Think of how you’d like to be greeted, how your query should be answered, how the call quality should be, and more.
Optimize the process not only by looking at what’s good for you in it but how does it benefit the caller.
There is another way of how you can use your employees as a great solution to improve the quality of your call center agent’s work and the service they provide.
One, as we’ve mentioned before, you should collect employees’ feedback to use their insights on how to optimize their work.
Second, you should encourage them to self-assess their work. This way, you’ll grant them the responsibility for their actions. Oftentimes, employees feel like they’re not taken seriously when it comes to what they think of the business or their work.
Giving them the power to self-assess their actions they will be much more eager to do their work with care and a dose of responsibility. Show them that they’re an integral part of the company and that what they do is reflected in how the whole venture performs.
The excellent job should be noticed and well-rewarded.
As you implement the QA process in your call center, do not forget to reward the agents who are doing exceptionally well helping you and your business improve the overall quality.
Rewarding your agents should be done as often as possible but only when the requirements are meant. Do not make a reward too easy to obtain as it will quickly dilute its value. Yet, don’t make it too hard to get as it would encourage your employees to compete with each other just to get the prize.
The main benefit of rewarding your agents is that they’ll feel motivated to work even more efficiently than before and they’ll be more satisfied as they are aware of the fact that their work gets recognized.
When you reward an agent, do it in front of others, as well as, the whole board (if that’s possible). Make it a healthy competition in which only their actions will decide whether they’ll get a price or not.
For the price, set a threshold of the amount of money or other resources that you would like to invest in it and consult the price with the winner. Such an agent will find it even more valuable and will be much happier to receive it.
You chose the software.
Decided on metrics.
Monitor your agents.
If you don’t recalibrate, all those actions will go to waste.
What you should do is to – as the header states – recalibrate regularly.
To be exact. When you have everything set up – goals, tools, and metrics – you should set a timeframe after which you’ll take a look at the results and see whether things are on the way to meet the goal or not.
If you’re doing well and your company is happily marching towards the desired quality level then all you should be focusing on is carrying on what you’ve been doing so far. Yet, if your company and the goal are going in two different ways just as La La Land cast and the Oscars, you should investigate to find out what you’re doing wrong and recalibrate to get on the right track.
And the most important – never stop optimizing!
There is always room for improvement and you should keep an eye on the metrics and your goals. Be aware of the direction your company is heading towards and make sure the direction is the oasis you were dreaming of.
Share metrics with your agents
Again, we’re going back to the agents.
So far, we know that you should collect feedback from your employees and encourage them to self-assess their work. Now, we’ll go through another aspect of how you should include your agents in the process of call center quality assurance.
Most employers think of their workers as unable to assess their work in regards to your (your business’s) needs. Still, you don’t have to be that guy!
After you choose the metrics to monitor, share them with your agents.
The benefits of such an action are quite straightforward. Most importantly, they’ll be aware of what’s being measured and what’s most crucial when it comes to the job they do. This will make it easier for them to prioritize their work and focus on what’s most important.
Also, sharing the exact metrics you measure will give them a better understanding of what affects the results as oftentimes some aspects of the work get overlooked while they have a great impact on work performance and results.
Engage your agents and make them an integral part of the call center QA process.
Use a KISS method
Noo… You don’t have to kiss anyone, you dummy.
What KISS stands for is Keep It Simple Stupid and what it tries to convey is the method of executing things in their simplest form possible.
How can it be applied to call center quality assurance?
It turns out that you can apply the KISS method to each of the steps of the QA process.
When it comes to setting your goals. Instead of going for a dozen of different outcomes, focus on a few that matter. What’s more, make sure that they are simple, well-thought, and can be understood by everyone across the board.
For metrics, it would be also about focusing on a few crucial metrics, contrary to measuring every detail. At first, it might seem intuitive to take care of every little feature, but it would almost certainly result in a total mess.
As we were talking about the software, you can also apply the KISS method here. Oftentimes, business owners fall into the trap of buying more and more software as it promises to help you with A, B, C, and D. Yet, it’d be much better (for your company and its budget) to solely choose the software you’ll use. If you follow the road of a digital shopping spree, sooner than later, you’ll realize that you don’t use half of what you’ve bought.
Strive to simplify your efforts and optimize everything you do by the KISS method.
Provide immediate feedback
Don’t wait until it’s too late.
If you see that things are not going well (according to the plan) act immediately. Don’t wait until the next meeting or board gathering. It is much easier to fix something right away than after your employees get used to doing something wrong.
The same goes for positive aspects. If you see that you’re agents are performing well or are doing something extra, don’t think twice but compliment them on that. You can also reward them, right?
After all, providing feedback in the workplace can be a tough thing. Oftentimes both employers and employees are scared to provide their outlook on certain things. If you’d like to dive deeper into how to properly collect and provide feedback, head to this article. We’ve covered this topic quite extensively.
Let agents judge their calls
Here, we go back to the self-assessment practice, as well as, call recordings.
Call recordings are the best training ground for your agents. They can quickly get a hint of how well they carry out each of the calls and can examine whether they’re doing it right and according to the premises.
Call recordings can also work well when it comes to onboarding new call center agents as they can help them better understand the quality that he or they should provide while talking on the phone.
In regards to call center quality monitoring, call recording should be left to be assessed by the ones who make them – the agents.
This way, you don’t have to judge them – which oftentimes tends to be stressful for both parties – and they can benefit from listening to the calls from a third-person perspective.
Keep it customer-centric
Nowadays, many businesses try to optimize all of their efforts – marketing, development, sales, etc. – in regards to the customer-centric approach.
It means, no less, no more, than that everything you do should be done with the customer as a central point of the ponderation. Thanks to such an approach, your business instead of being focused on inside-company-benefits-only it will be focused on providing the best experience ever so your customers want to keep coming back.
The customer-centric approach requires a lot of thought into how you develop your business and every campaign you do, yet, if done right it’ll result in a perfectly aligned relationship that mutually benefits from each others’ actions.
To properly implement the customer-centric approach in your business, start by changing the brand culture so it meets your customer-centric requirements. Here, you’ll find a great piece written by Denise Lee Yohn and published at HBR. Building a customer-centric culture should be the first step on the way to creating a business that is focused on its customers.
Use top performers as an example
People like leaders, mentors, experts – in general, people who they can look up to and treat as an example or a reference.
This gives people the comfort of being guided by a better version of themselves. You should use that fact to your advantage and improve the quality of your call center’s overall quality.
First, you have to find out who’s a top performer. It should be that one employee who repeatedly exceeds the expectations, meeting his or her goals before the deadline while doing some extra tasks in the meantime.
After you know who you can use as an example, pair such a person with a low-performer who needs a solid dose of training and mentorship.
“But…” – you may say. “My agents are agents, not coaches!”
Right, that might be a point. Yet, everything they have to do is sit close to the other colleague. That’s it. Even the presence of an expert will help them improve their skills and get better at what they’re doing.
Thus, find out who’s the top performer on your team and use his presence as the way to boost the efficiency and the quality of work of the underperformers.
Call Center Quality Assurance summarized
Ugh, what a long piece it was!
Yet, I hope you’ve found it helpful and useful, and – most importantly – your business will benefit thanks to the above advice.
It’s good practice to drop a moral in the end, so let’s do it right now.
Remember, that the call center quality assurance is the ongoing process (or at least should be). If you want to provide exceptional service, you have to use proper measures, follow call center quality assurance best practices, and make use of call center quality assurance tips as the helping hand to optimize the whole process.
If there is one word that I’d love you to remember after reading this post it’d be: recalibrate.
Namely, recalibrate regularly. Don’t stop at the preparation process in the hope that the rest is going to flawlessly align. Monitor the progress and do what you can to stay on the right track.
If you know other call center quality assurance best practices in regards to the call center quality assurance drop them into comments! We’re all going to learn more and if your answer happens to be quite informative I’ll make sure to make it a part of the article!