Historically, many companies have used spreadsheets to track and analyze call center performance against KPIs and other call center performance metrics.
However, more and more companies are understanding that call center quality is so critical to customer experience that they must move past outdated tracking and recording methods. These outdated methods have significant limitations which we will cover later however, a good customer experience is heavily dependent on the right tool, training, and QA process working together.
Keep reading to learn our guide to understanding and implementing Quality Assurance (QA) tactics in the call center for improved performance, compliance, and ultimately, more satisfied customers.
What Does Call Center QA Mean?
Monitoring call center activity is not a new idea.
For years, call center managers have been trying to improve their call center quality assurance. But, what does call center QA mean, and what benefits can call centers
Call Center QA
The support of third-party QA specialists can also help ensure quality due to their practiced skill sets and unbiased observations.
Setting quality standards and monitoring calls to ensure adherence to standards is critical to ensuring positive customer experiences. Call center QA means using any of the following activities to improve the call center experience for callers:
- Listening to calls and reviewing emails or chats to enhance
- Creating QA Scorecards
- Monitoring QA Scorecards and providing agent immediate feedback
- Analyzing quality monitoring data
- Providing Call Center compliance
QA specialists can do more than just call out mistakes or omissions as reported through call center observations. They are often able to dig deeper to help call center managers understand behaviors and patterns and then suggest the appropriate training and tangible strategies for improvement.
An investment in quality assurance will provide long-term benefits for the business in the form of fully-engaged employees and loyal customers.
How QA is Changing Call Center Operations
QA is evolving in the call center but in order to take advantage of it, it’s imperative to understand why QA is changing how call centers operate. The reality is that customers have the power in business relationships. They can decide to stay with a brand or abandon it unexpectedly, leaving the company in a mode of scrambling to recover the lost business.
According to one survey, by 2020, customers will give more weight to the quality of service than to either price or product. Even now, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for better service. And 67% of customers cite poor service as a reason for leaving a company.
That’s why it’s critical for companies to always be improving their methods and services. And QA in the call center is a critical component of managing customer expectations and loyalty as well as the overall health of the business.
The smartest solution to the call center quality issue is to identify agent actions—key performance indicators (KPIs)—which have the most impact on the bottom line of the business and then create a call center QA program to measure activities against. For most call centers, that means monitoring calls and using scorecards to gauge agent performance.
Call center QA scoring can boost overall performance through three important aspects:
- QA scoring helps measure what’s important to the business
- QA scoring gives better and more immediate feedback on agent performance
- QA scoring ensures regulatory compliance
Quality monitoring in the call center
The call center is a critical touchpoint for customer relationships in most businesses and those relationships can be strengthened by the behavior and performance of call center agents. Most people judge a business by the interactions they have with the call center so it’s critical to implement rigorous quality monitoring for long-term customer loyalty.
The future of the company may rest on the effectiveness of the quality monitoring, especially when it comes to gleaning insights to improve overall call center performance.
Consistent quality customer experiences are dependent on several factors for ongoing success:
- Set quality goals for the call center
- Create a quality monitoring scorecard
- Set pertinent parameters for scorecard development
- Train managers and agents
- Analyze calls for customer experience input
- Monitor quality scorecards for relevant adjustments
Reduced churn in the call center
QA is not only important in acquiring new customers; it’s also critical in reducing churn in the call center. Today’s customers have almost unlimited choices and can opt out of communications with a company with a click. Consider these real-world statistics:
- 71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service
- Companies focus on acquisition more than customer retention, even though it can cost 7x more to acquire new customers
- 61% of consumers take their business to a competitor when they end a business relationship
Some of the qualifiers that can predict at-risk customers include:
- An inordinate amount of calls to the call center
- Strong expression of dissatisfaction
- Mentions of competitor solutions and comparisons
- Requests for alternate pricing
- Negative customer experience issues
How can companies put a halt to customer abandonment and reduce churn in the call center? By utilizing analytics. Every interaction with a customer has resulting data that can be analyzed and used to alter behavior and help secure the relationship for the long term.
If a customer demonstrates any indication of the potential for leaving, analysis of call center performance data will provide insights that can strengthen customer relationships and be used to develop retention strategies. Taking a proactive approach and escalating potential problems stops issues before they’re beyond repair. This type of strategic insight can help change the course of reducing churn in the call center.
Call center reports
One of the elements that can slow progress in call centers is outdated methods of reporting. It’s easy to get unclear reports when information is gleaned from several sources and then manually entered. The margin for error can not only be frustrating but also counterproductive for the business.
Accurate call center reporting is made easier with an automated call center QA measurement and reporting tool. A solution like Scorebuddy can provide:
- An easy-to-access dashboard
- Customizable data points and time frames
- Real-time analysis
- Automatic submission of reports to call center management
- Presentation confidence
Real-time data with at-a-glance dashboard access is crucial for call center productivity as well as the achievement of business objectives.
How to improve contact center efficiency
First impressions with a company are often made through the call center and it’s critical that agents are skilled professionals supported by efficient processes and procedures. Today’s customers demand instant communications in several channels so it’s up to call center managers to improve contact center efficiency to ensure speedy, quality customer experiences.
Call center efficiency can be improved through five major tactics:
- Streamlined phone traffic that routes customers to the appropriate call center rep for appropriate resolution of the customer’s issue
- Optimized teams who are made more productive resulting in less agent burnout
- Informed agents who can perform better and meet customer demands quickly and easily
- A versatile call center script that helps agents speed up call handling while still meeting customer needs
- Reduced average handle time can improve efficiency without impacting quality customer interactions
Changes in call center efficiency don’t occur overnight but are achievable with a dedicated commitment to process improvement.
Achieve better outcome for call centers
Call center quality hinges on the human element of agent performance. Savvy managers know that gauging agent performance using scorecards leads to a better outcome for call centers, not only by improving agent skills, but also by facilitating an improved customer satisfaction experience.
Scorecards can deliver a better outcome for call centers because they contain all the metrics for agent performance in one place. Call center managers can utilize the scorecard metrics to make the appropriate changes that boost customer satisfaction and revenue for the business.
Scorecards eliminate the need for manual spreadsheets and can move managers and agents toward a better outcome for call centers quicker, resulting in happier agents and better customer interactions.
The Right QA Framework Can Improve Business Goals
The goal for every call center is to move from a transactional day-by-day operation to one that supports the company’s long-term strategic objectives and business goals. Creating a call center QA framework is the foundation from which these goals can be achieved.
A strategic call center QA framework focuses on these processes:
- Understand and correlate the connection between customer experience, customer sentiment
- Review and consider QA from a senior leadership or executive board level perspective
- Evaluate consistent QA as a senior management key performance indicator
- Encourage agent self-scoring to raise levels of self-awareness and adopt positive customer behavior
A call center QA framework can also favorably impact the following factors:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer loyalty
- QA as a key differentiator
- Increased sales
A strategic call center QA framework can boost revenue and ROI
Continuous improvement and working the call center QA framework will result in ongoing success for call centers and the businesses they support. However, gleaning all relevant data from multiple sources can put a strain on call center management whose goal is to increase revenue and improve ROI for the business.
Even though the call center goal is to reach a state of strategic QA, there are the operational and tactical phases to work through. Identifying a call center’s current phase is critical to understanding the path to strategic performance.
The steps in the day-to-day operational framework include:
- Maintaining consistent service delivery
- Identifying poor performers
- Measuring adherence to process and procedure
- Tracking agent development and progress
Tactical QA moves the call center to a more strategic position through goals that exhibit more insight and flexibility than operational goals. Tactical goals include:
- Improving client retention
- Reducing staff churn/attrition
- Identifying knowledge gaps
- Looking for the root causes of poor service
- Reporting on trends
- Aligning tightly with business goals
A strategic QA framework incorporates input from customers and the business as well as relevant compliance issues. The goals of a strategic QA framework include:
- Improve Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Increase customer loyalty
- Use QA as
- Improve propensity to purchase
When call centers have mastered the operational and tactical components, they are ready for the pinnacle of business success and the strategic QA framework that will get them there.
Spreadsheets present challenges for call center QA
Spreadsheets are all too common in the call center, but, unfortunately, they don’t offer much help when it comes to
Collecting information using a static measurement tool like a spreadsheet is a time killer for managers, especially when they don’t necessarily provide a real-time, holistic view of call center operations.
Some of the drawbacks to using spreadsheets for call center QA include:
- Lack of scope of data
- No dynamic qualities
- No automatic data connection between spreadsheets
- Difficulty in staffing based on static information
Possibilityof spreadsheet loss inhibits data security
Spreadsheets are not a QA tool
Some call center managers rely heavily on spreadsheet data because it is a familiar format used for a long time in the business. Unfortunately, they may not be aware of the damage they’re doing to their QA initiative by insisting on using this outdated data collection tool.
Some of the main reasons that spreadsheets are not a QA tool include:
- Spreadsheets can only record static data
- Spreadsheets are ineffective at collating and storing data
- Spreadsheet management drains time
- Spreadsheets are fragile
- Spreadsheets don’t facilitate change management
- Spreadsheets don’t provide real-time feedback
- Spreadsheets increase data security risk
Spreadsheets lack the features necessary to manage in a dynamic environment like a call center. Specific applications and cloud-based tools are better suited to the nature of a call center and can capture data appropriately for relevant review and action.
How to Improve Call Center QA
Successful call centers create and work to personalized call center QA guidelines in order to stay on target and meet business objectives. The best call center QA guidelines incorporate both specific actions as well as general agent behavior. Developing strong call center QA guidelines is easier when using the following strategies:
- Develop ongoing coaching for call center agents
- Encourage agents to make small, incremental changes every day
- Use external benchmarking to develop call center QA guidelines
Once guidelines have been determined, it’s time to take the next step—building a call center QA scorecard. Scorecards provide the perfect dashboard to view metrics to track, train and develop agents for peak performance. When building a call center QA scorecard, there are some important components to consider:
- Communications channels
- Measurement of customer expectations vs. business needs
- Definition of priorities appropriate for the business
- Determination of goals and objectives
- Testing and implementation of the scorecard
Designing and using an effective call center QA scorecard is one of the best ways to achieve company goals while ensuring that agents and managers are working effectively and rewarded appropriately.
Finding ways to keep employee morale high and skill sets fresh can be challenging but we’ve identified five ways to move toward improving call center quality assurance:
- Coach using real data
- Provide regular feedback
- Transition data into results
- Identify the appropriate metrics
- Get employees involved in QA initiatives
Making just a few adjustments such as managing employee engagement and managing to the appropriate metrics, there will soon be a definite turn toward improving call center quality assurance.
Improving call center quality assurance not only builds better customer
Another critical component of call center QA is the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which tells the business how it rates in terms of customer loyalty and satisfaction. Agents can take an active role in improving NPS and customer experience through call center QA activity.
A customer’s opinion of a company hinges on many factors, most of which are outside the control of the call center, but the call center is the place where opinions are voiced. It is also the place where unfavorable opinions can be reversed, and agents have a great deal of influence on the ultimate outcome.
Buying a Call Center QA Solution
Fortunately, there is user-friendly QA software available to assist agents and managers in keeping up with quality initiatives. Making the right software decision can be challenging but there are a few questions to ask before buying QA software:
- Is it easy to edit forms in the software?
- Can I add new users to the software?
- What training is required for agents?
- Can multiple users in the business use the software?
- What time is required for IT set-up?
- Can the software be tested in-house?
- What type of support will be provided?
- How safe is call center information?
- What other companies use the software?
Scorebuddy has been field-tested for QA in call centers all over the world and has improved QA initiatives on many levels. In 2018, Scorebuddy has been voted “Best Contact Center Technology for the second time by Call Centre Helper’s “Top Ten Contact Center Software and Technology” awards.
Being recognized as the best contact center software is certainly gratifying, but we are interested in helping call centers improve their operations through QA initiatives. Learning from our customers helps us be more effective and provide a better solution through continual improvement.
Scorebuddy is a cloud-based contact center QA and staff quality monitoring Tool. This simple staff scoring solution replaces spreadsheets and documents for contact centers to score calls, emails or chat. Clients include Airbnb, Microsoft, TripAdvisor, The World Wildlife Fund, and hundreds of call centers and outsourcers around the world.