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Five Tactics of the Quality Monitoring Masters

Most contact center organizations like to talk about how customer-centric and quality-oriented they are. Far fewer, however, have put their quality monitoring program where their mouth is.

In many centers, quality monitoring is a misnomer:  What’s measured less is the true quality of service provided to customers and more just agents’ ability to adhere to internal compliance standards. Consequently, agents often view quality monitoring as a softened form of spying, a process intended to “catch them doing something wrong” rather than a process to empower them and enhance the customer experience.

Companies may have been able to get away with shoddy or incomplete quality monitoring practices in the past, but such tactics won’t wash in today’s customer-ruled kingdom. Today, contact centers must be able to take a clear snapshot of customers’ interactions across all channels, view those interactions from the customer’s perspective and inspire agents to continually improve their performance to help ensure customer loyalty and retention.

Here are five key approaches embraced by today’s quality monitoring masters:

Educate new hires on the value of quality monitoring. No quality monitoring initiative can be successful without full agent buy-in from the get-go. Leading contact centers don’t just tell new hires that frequent monitoring will occur, rather they explain why. Agents come away with a solid understanding of what quality monitoring is and how valuable it can be for the company, the customers and the agents themselves.

Many centers have created “libraries” of ideal customer interactions (in the form of call recordings or email/chat transcripts) that are used in new-hire training and coaching to demonstrate desired actions/behaviors and to show that monitoring is not a negative “gotcha” process.  

Incorporate a “VOC” component into monitoring scores. The customer is the true judge of service quality, thus their feedback needs to be factored into the quality equation. Top contact centers today have added a “Voice of the Customer” (VOC) component to their quality monitoring process, where customer ratings and feedback (from post-contact surveys) count just as much if not more than the scores determined by the call center’s QA specialists (who focus more on how well agents comply with internal standards). Such an approach not only gives a more accurate quality reading, it is generally welcomed by agents.

Provide timely and positive coaching. Adopting a VOC-driven quality monitoring program won’t mean much if the invaluable feedback provided by customers isn’t shared with agents soon after each evaluated interaction. Coaching need be not only timely, but positive and encouraging. Slamming agents over the head with mistakes they made or opportunities they missed will do little to foster improvement and motivation. Coaches in some centers, before providing constructive feedback, ask agents to self-evaluate the call (or email or chat) in question and allow them to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, which often leads to engaging coaching conversations with much less agent pushback.

Monitor ALL customer interaction channels (not just the phones). It’s a multichannel customer contact world out there; quality monitoring programs that focus on the phones but forego today’s other common contact channels are an invitation to customer dissatisfaction and dissent. World-class contact centers ensure that customers receive courteous, consistent and efficient service regardless of how they contact the organization. These centers do so by having quality specialists continuously evaluate call recordings, email/chat transcripts, IVR and web self-service transactions and conversations over social networks – with an eye not only on how agents and systems performed, but also on how customers perceived the experience.

Reward and recognize agents for achieving high quality. Want agents to keep striving to resolve issues, comply with standards and delight customers? Then keep rewarding and recognizing them for such accomplishments. This shouldn’t cost the contact center an arm and a leg. Things as simple as a “thank you” note, public praise at a meeting or other small gestures of appreciation whenever agents knock it out of the park on a call go a long way toward sustaining engagement and commitment to the quality cause.

 

About the author

Author of Full Contact: Contact Center Practices and Strategies that Make an Impact. He has written hundreds of feature articles, case studies, blog posts and research reports on contact center best practices trends and challenges. He is founder and principal of Off Center, which provides a variety of resources to educate, inspire and entertain contact center professionals. Levin is the former editor of ICMI’s pioneering publication Service Level Newsletter, as well as its highly regarded follow-up journal Call Center Management Review.

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