Call Center Quality Assurance Program Best Practices

    In order to provide high-quality customer service, it’s essential that you standardize processes and set up a system for measuring performance. This provides a solid foundation for the entire customer experience and improves your company’s operational efficiency.

    The question is, “How do I get started?” A call center quality assurance program serves as the basis for keeping your customers loyal and your agents engaged. It defines the standards that your business must keep to ensure compliance, reduce errors, and improve the customer experience.

    In both small and large organizations, call center QA processes are critical to success. In this blog, we’ll look at why qualitative insights are so important, how they impact the customer experience, how to set up a quality assurance program, and best practices.

    What is a Call Center Quality Assurance Program?

    A call center quality assurance program is a set of standards and steps designed to define and measure the quality of your service and products. It’s a framework that reveals how well your call center performs, how happy your customers are, and how efficient your business is.

    A call center QA program should reveal:

    • Agent performance
    • Training success, failure, or needs
    • Operational efficiency
    • Internal and external collaboration
    • Customer experience
    • Alignment with business goals

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    Why is Call Center Quality Assurance Important?

    Without a quality assurance process in place, it’s almost impossible to determine how your contact center is performing and what you can do to perform better. This is especially a problem in today’s customer service environment where 93% of customer service teams say expectations are higher than ever.

    The challenge for many organizations is attempting to break down the complex inner workings of a call center into a set of success criteria and metrics that you can use to establish a call center QA program.

    Step-by-Step: How to Start a Call Center QA Program

    There are six steps required to build a quality assurance program that accurately tells you how well your call center is performing.

    1. Define Your Call Center Goals

    The first step to creating a call center quality assurance program is to know what you’re trying to achieve.

    • What are your customer service goals?
    • What do you want for your customers?
    • What outcomes do you want to achieve from every interaction?
    • How do you want your customers to feel?
    • Are there any actions you want your customers to take?

    Think of your call center goals as the standards that your agents have to meet to be considered successful. The key is to be as specific as possible by creating a concise list of standards that produce acceptable results.

    Just remember that these call center goals should be aligned with your overall business goals. While they are separate and focused on customer service, they should match the benchmarks first put in place for your entire organization.

    2. Determine Your Key Performance Indicators/Metrics

    Once you have your call center goals outlined, you need to define the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to measure your results. These metrics will be how you gain insight into your call center’s performance. By knowing what you’ll measure upfront, you’ll be able to set the tone and context for your call center QA program.

    To get started, your customer service KPIs should be divided into three sections: business critical metrics, customer critical metrics, and process critical metrics.

    Business Critical KPIs

    These metrics deal with the development of a documented approach to QA and the customer experience. The goal is to improve business performance, and include KPIs such as:

    • Target identification: How well does the agent understand their target and performance metrics?
    • Key Account Recognition: How well do your agents identify key accounts?
    • Routing Accuracy: Did the agent have the skills and experience necessary to handle the customer interaction effectively.
    • Productivity: This includes such metrics as total contact per customer service representative per month (CSR), utilization rate, and manager to CSR ratio.
    • Functionality: How well did the system function from a customer perspective?
    • Company Procedures: Did the agent follow company procedures such as providing factual information, behaving professionally, etc.?
    • Management: KPIs such as annual turnover, new hire training hours, job satisfaction, occupancy, schedule adherence, and tenure, are important here.
    • Resources: You’ll also need to determine how well you handled your call center resources by looking at contact volume, coverage period, shrinkage, average speed of answer (ASA), and more.

    Customer Critical KPIs

    These KPIs focus specifically on the customer experience and how well the agent stood the needs of the customer. Metrics include:

    • Service: How well did the agent resolve the customer’s problem? Was it easy, quick, in-depth, completed in one call, etc.?
    • Quality: How accurate was the information provided to the customer and was the experience a “wow”?
    • Empathy/Emotional Intelligence: Did the agent cultivate empathy, actively listen to the customer, and demonstrate flexibility?
    • Sales: Did the agent provide additional value through product and services upgrades?
    • Channel Specific KPIs: There are also customer critical metrics specific to each channel. For example, social media might include metrics such as total incoming posts, public responses, private responses, and posts routed for review.

    Process Critical KPIs

    These KPIs review every customer interaction after it occurs to discuss what happened and how well or poorly the interaction went. Metrics include:

    • Feedback: According to the customer, how well did the interaction go via a satisfaction survey, detractor analysis, or feedback from frontline staff?
    • Analysis: Based in all other metrics/KPIs, what is the impact on the business, the customer experience, and efficiency?

    Manage your QA Processes

    Most Common KPIs

    Based on the above customer service KPIs that can be used within your call center, the following are some of the most common:

    • Average Time in Queue: This reveals how well your agents are serving your customers and is an effective metric for calls, live chat, emails, and social media comments.
    • Average Abandonment Rate:This tells you how often a customer gives up on connecting with your customer service team.
    • First Contact Resolution:This represents a significant element of customer satisfaction by revealing how many calls, chats, emails, or social media messages it takes to solve a customer’s concern.
    • Agent Absenteeism: This reveals how often your agents are not at their desks and helps you identify root causes and promote positive behavior.
    • Agent Turnover Rate:This helps you identify challenges and gaps in agent satisfaction and training that can be better managed.
    • CSAT:This tracks how satisfied your customers are with your organization and your service.
    • Net Promoter Score (NPS): This is the gold standard for measuring customer loyalty and customer experience.
    • Schedule Adherence: This demonstrates how well your agents adhere to their schedule as a metric of productivity.
    • Contact Quality Management Score: This measures product knowledge, technical knowledge, communication skills, and problem-solving skills.

    Most Common KPIs QA

    3. Outline All Policies and Procedures for Success

    Next, it’s important to understand how your call center will meet your goals and achieve success based on your KPIs. That’s where setting your policies and procedures is crucial. This will ensure that all staff and departments within your call center are involved in your quality assurance program and dedicated to taking action.

    The goal of this step is to spell out exactly how your call center should handle a variety of situations as well as your expectations for success. You’ll want to outline everything from how you provide feedback to how agents conduct calls, record overtime, and behave in everyday situations.

    These policies and procedures should also answer the following QA questions:

    • What data will you measure?
    • How will you score customer interactions (calls, emails, live chat, social media, etc.)?
    • How will you monitor and evaluate communication?
    • What will your analyses look like?
    • How will you implement improvements based on your QA findings?

    4. Implement the QA Program

    Once you’ve laid the foundation of your call center quality program, it’s time to implement your new policies and procedures. It’s critical that you jump right in, making sure that all managers and agents understand what is expected of them and how these new steps will change their day-to-day functions.

    Make sure you address any questions or concerns that come up during implementation and put all necessary tools and systems in place track and report on the results of your QA program. The goal should be to provide all training and resources required to ensure the QA process works as smoothly as possible.

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    5. Measure Results & Feedback

    Quality assurance is a living breathing process. It is not something you can set and forget. Instead, you need to constantly measure results and garner feedback from your call center managers and agents about the process.

    There will be flaws in your call center QA process, and there will be KPI results that quickly reveal any errors in your training or procedures. This is to be expected. The key is to constantly and consistently analyze your quality assurance outcomes and then take action to improve.

    To do this, your results must be shared with the entire team: managers and agents. If your call enter employees don’t know what they’re doing well or what they need to do to get better, you won’t see an increase in happy customers or sales from your QA program.

    6. Update Call Center QA Processes as Required

    Once you have your quality assurance program in place, be open to the possibility that it will need to be modified and updated regularly. As your business goals change, as you continue to receive feedback from customers, and as you analyze problem areas and gaps in your call center, you’ll need to change your QA process to match the new normal.

    It’s critical that you are willing and ready to change your policies, procedures, KPIs, and goals based on your managers, agents, and customers. A call center quality assurance program is a problem-solving approach that is meant to empower your organization for success. By continually fine-tuning it based on 360 degrees of feedback, you’ll get the best results possible.

    Call Center Quality Assurance Program Best Practices

    To make sure your call center quality assurance processes launch without significant issues, there are a few best practices you need to follow.

    Implement a Unique QA Process for Each Channel

    There’s no denying that today’s customers want omnichannel support. In fact, according to Marketing Week, customers use an average of almost six touch-points, with 50% regularly using more than four to buy items and contact businesses. The challenge is that the more channels you use for customer support—phone, email, live chat, social media, etc.—the more complicated your contact center QA program becomes.

    One way to ensure your quality assurance program is successful is to break up the QA data by channel. In that way, it’s easier to collect and analyze the insight that matters most based on the unique type of interaction offered on each channel.

    For example, when communicating via live chat, response time and handle time are probably the two most critical metrics for customer satisfaction. According to SuperOffice, the average wait time for live chat support is just two minutes and 40 seconds, and the average handle time is just six minutes and 50 seconds. On the other hand, email communication is less about quick responses and more about thorough communication that includes referral links, videos, and more.

    By altering your call center quality assurance processes for each channel, you get a much better and more accurate result.

    Leverage Data to Improve the Call Center QA Process

    How you gather and analyze structured and unstructured data in your QA process is essential to helping your call center operate at peak performance. The key is only spending your time and energy mining the data that matters—data that helps you identify patterns and trends. To do this, you need multiple analytics tools in place to help reveal agent performance and customer insights.

    In busy multi-channel call centers, it can be overwhelming to monitor, track, and score QA performance when there’s such a broad range of metrics to choose between. There are a few different approaches you can take to leveraging your call center data and analytics. A few of the most popular options include:

    1. Speech Analytics helps you monitor calls in real-time. You can use it to analyze tone and sentiment, gauge customer emotion and satisfaction, and gather data on agent skills and performance.
    2. Text Analytics is valuable for live chat, social media, email, and other text-centered communication. It helps you analyze writing in the same way speech analytics measures calls.
    3. Cross Channel Analytics ensures that data flows between all of the channels, optimizing the customer experience. It can help update scripts in real-time, alert agents to potential problems, and more.
    4. Predictive Analytics focuses on identifying the most effective way to communicate with customers. It can predict customer behaviors and identify trends, so you can improve agent effectiveness and enhance customer experience.
    5. Performance Analytics contain real-time and historical data about agent performance. It captures information on inefficiencies, training opportunities, handle time, and more.

    Use Technology to Help: Call Center Quality Assurance Scorecards

    A call center quality assurance program is only valuable if you figure out how to track, train, and develop your team. That’s where technology can help.

    Call center quality assurance software, such as Scorebuddy, is ideal for helping you monitor your contact center because it puts the most critical insight first—the human element. Using scorecards, you can produce QA data focused on agent performance, which helps you implement changes to make significant improvement.

    Scorecards help you track essential key performance indicators, empower your leaders to evaluate customer experiences, and provide the tools necessary to monitor and manage productivity. Just make sure that the call center QA scorecards you create are applicable to various aspects of each interaction and are specific to your business objectives.

    And, when you launch your new QA Scorecard, bear in mind that it will probably need some refinements as it is utilized. Hold calibration sessions regularly to revise your scorecard for accuracy and effectiveness.

    What Does AI Mean for Call Center Quality Assurance?

    Of course, we can’t neglect the growing impact of artificial intelligence on the contact center landscape. Almost half of customer support teams are using AI in some capacity and, with 83% of executives citing AI as a strategic priority for their businesses, adoption is set to skyrocket.

    We’re seeing call centers use AI for things like:

    • Automated interaction scoring
    • Real-time call monitoring
    • Advanced self-service (using virtual agents and conversational AI)
    • Expanded interaction analysis
    • Speech and text analytics
    • Agent and evaluator assistance
    • Personalized, data-driven coaching
    • Enhanced forecasting and staffing

    This growing deployment of generative AI in contact centers further highlights the importance of a robust quality assurance program. Despite its impressive capabilities, these new technologies are prone to lapses, “hallucinations”, and misunderstandings, all of which can threaten your customer experience.

    What Does AI Mean for Call Center Quality Assurance

    With this in mind, you’ll want to leverage your QA software to ensure human validation of AI outputs and an airtight feedback loop. Automation brings huge potential for scaling and increased efficiency, but you need QA to manage this growth safely.

    How to Give Call Center Quality Assurance Feedback (With Examples)

    Effective feedback is a vital component of your quality assurance process. It gives agents the opportunity to grow and learn by highlighting areas for improvement, reinforcing their positive behaviors, and motivating them to do better on the next call.

    By prioritizing the importance of quality feedback, you reinforce the idea of QA as a tool for development, not something that is trying to catch people out and criticize them.

    The success, or lack thereof, of your feedback all hinges on your ability to deliver it effectively. Here are five tips on how to deliver feedback in your contact center:

    • Make sure to keep it specific and highlight real-world examples from the calls you review—agents need context for the feedback to hit home.
    • Try the “feedback sandwich” approach, so you can strike a balance between acknowledging the good stuff and delivering some constructive criticism.
    • Be clear and give agents actionable ways to do better. “Read this knowledge base article and complete this module in our LMS by the end of next week” is much more useful than, “Improve your product knowledge soon.”
    • Timing is everything with feedback, if you wait too long to bring something up the agent won’t remember it. Serve your feedback while it's fresh.
    • Remember you’re a coach, not a critic. Always keep your tone supportive and encouraging, with a focus on development.

    Let’s have a look at some real-world examples of call center QA feedback to give you a better idea. We’ll divide them into positive and constructive, to help you make your feedback sandwich.

    Positive Feedback Examples

    • “Good job, you actively listened to what the customer was saying and you showed empathy at all times.”
    • “I was really impressed by how quickly you were able to get to the root cause of that issue.”
    • “The explanations were very strong. You were clear and concise. I could tell that the customer understood the resolution right away.”

    Constructive Feedback Examples

    • “I understand why you offer a few different solutions, but it might be better to go with the most relevant option upfront. This would save the customer some time.”
    • “You could tell the customer was getting frustrated at a few points in the conversation. These moments would be a good opportunity to use calming language and prevent things from escalating.”
    • “You found the solution but it took a little time. Our knowledge base has a great article on this subject—it could be worth referencing for next time.”

    Case Study: Games 24x7 Boosted its QA Productivity 20%

    Games 24x7, a leading online gaming platform in India, was struggling with an inefficient, spreadsheet-driven quality assurance program. This reliance on a manual evaluation process slowed everything down and made QA scoring inconsistent and subjective.

    With Scorebuddy, Games 24x7 modernized its QA program and found significant improvements:

    • The ability to customize scorecards to evaluate interactions across different channels, leverage these scores to improve agent performance, and carry out root cause analysis
    • Significant savings on time and resources compared to the previous manual approach, leading to a 20% increase in QA productivity
    • A more objective, consistent system for performing evaluations, resulting in fairer scoring

    For the full story on how Games 24x7 reimagined its quality assurance program, read the case study here.

    Final Thoughts

    Creating a call center quality assurance program is the best way to ensure that your team delivers excellent customer service. When built correctly, it helps improve customer loyalty, increase customer satisfaction, enhance agent effectiveness, and decrease agent turnover and costs. It offers a large ROI for a small investment.

    Just remember that a call center QA program is a journey with no end. You’ll continually need to evaluate your QA processes to evolve them to the next level. This will take going beyond silos and taking a creative approach in order to make the greatest impact. The good news is that Scorebuddy can help.

    With Scorebuddy, there are no call center QA constraints because you can’t get the right data. Instead, you can gather the exact QA intelligence you need to uncover patterns, highlight trends, and make educated business decisions.

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      What’s the difference between quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA)?

      Quality control (QC) typically has a broader scope, with a focus on ensuring that a business’s products and services meet certain standards. Quality assurance (QA), on the other hand, is more focused on performance and process. In a call center, QA is about making sure that agents are performing to a level that meets your customer service standards.

      How to improve quality assurance in a call center?

      First and foremost, you need to establish clear quality standards and metrics so you have something to aim for. This could mean KPIs like average handle time (AHT), first contact resolution (FCR), and customer satisfaction (CSAT), but it can differ depending on specific organizational goals.

      Then, you’ll want to develop a solid QA process so you can monitor customer service standards, agent performance, interaction quality, and more. This will help you empower agents by identifying the areas where they’re falling short and then giving timely, relevant feedback so they know what they need to do better next time.

      With the right QA process in place, and the support of purpose-built software, you can leverage your quality assurance data to establish a culture of continuous improvement.

      What are the most important KPIs for call center QA managers?

      The most important call center QA KPIs will vary depending on the specific aims of each organization, but some of the most common metrics for QA managers include:

      • Average handling time (AHT): The average amount of time agents spend resolving customer service queries. On top of the interaction itself, AHT includes hold times, delays, transfers, and follow-up tasks.
      • First contact resolution (FCR): This metric measures the rate at which your agents are resolving customer issues during the first interaction—without the need for a follow-up.
      • Customer satisfaction (CSAT): This is a measure of how satisfied a customer is with your product, service, or the overall experience. In a call center, this typically relates to how happy a customer is with the service they receive.
      • Quality assurance (QA) scores: QA scores are calculated by evaluating agents based on predefined criteria, in order to measure the quality of your customer service interactions.
      • Agent adherence: The percentage of time where an agent is actually available to receive inbound calls, or make outbound calls. Commonly associated with “schedule adherence”, which measures the amount of time agents available for calls against the total time they’re scheduled to work to find a percentage.