Implementing Quality Assurance Controls for Call Center Projects
If your Call Center already maintains an effective Quality Assurance (QA) program you have a leg up on other companies who do not invest in this resource. The best programs act not only as independent auditors of agent behaviors, they also provide valuable insight into the ‘how to’ of program or center improvement, including valuable Voice of the Customer feedback. When new projects are launched it is wise to spend some time planning how to incorporate this critical resource into the Project Implementation plan.
Gather Requirements from Client
You may find during the Discovery process as you gather requirements for the project from your client that there are particular deliverables required for a QA process. In the event that the client does not already use a QA process this would be your opportunity to introduce them to the concept, explain industry Best Practices and make recommendations about how to incorporate Quality Assurance as part of the overall Performance Management plan. Recommendations could range from the content of the Audit tools to White-Label configuration of the QA software. During this phase you can establish expectations and act as Trusted Advisor.
Identify and Equip Personnel Dedicated to the Project
QA personnel must be independent thinkers with attention to detail who can objectively score a call or chat with consistency. After being provided initial training on the subject matter and scoring forms, QA agents must also receive calibration including ongoing sessions so that all of the behaviors included in the Audit Tool are both defined and interpreted accurately. Effective calibration should result in variance of less than 5%. For new programs it is typical to arrange calibration sessions with your client to ensure that the team is correctly scoring all behaviors accurately. These sessions may result in additional or refined definition of the targeted behaviors. After the QA process is established and the personnel have been trained and calibrated, for ongoing program excellence you must also provide a mechanism to inspect auditor accuracy. This can typically be accomplished with an Audit the Auditor process, where senior or certified auditors are given the responsibility to sample the accuracy of the output of the QA agents. This step will ensure that high levels of accuracy are not only established but maintained and measured throughout the life of the program.
Develop QA Audit Tools
Once the process flow has been mapped, the specific behaviors which are critical to the success of each customer interaction must be identified, defined and weighted. The most typical rubric is to achieve a total possible score of 100% with higher values assigned to the most influential behaviors. With thought to the reporting throughputs which will be generated you may also consider creating logical groupings or sections with their component behaviors. For example, for an Outbound telemarketing project, you may wish to organize the scoring tool to mirror the desired selling behaviors such as Introduction, Needs Analysis, Product Presentation, Closing and Handling Objections. The subset of behaviors which could be included in the Introduction section might inquire whether the agent was ready for the call and whether the agent introduced themselves appropriately. Most audit tools would include a separate section for etiquette and language skills and a category of ‘auto-failure’ for any behaviors which are mandated by regulation or client requirement.
Reporting Detail and Broad Trends
As individual customer contacts are audited, a body of data will be created which can then be mined for purposed of targeted performance improvement initiatives. It is advisable to structure the reports which will be generated so that analysis may be made of individual agent behaviors, team performance, and broader segmentation if the project is located in multiple locations to target performance gaps. If the scoring tool has been segmented by groups of behaviors, the aggregated data will indicate which areas large groups of people may need additional training or coaching for. For example, if in the example above for the sales process, if each behavior section has been scored for the project in the 80 to 100 percentile except for Handling Objections, then the Operations Management and Training Departments can devise effective strategies to modify the training curriculum, provide ongoing training and target individual coaching sessions. Reports should be used to close loop the performance management process and should be an iterative process so that the tools accommodate the desired outcome.
In addition to auditing critical behaviors, the QA process can and should also reveal insight into the Voice of the Customer. If significant numbers of customers complained of difficulty navigating a website, then that is critical feedback to report to the client and its programmers. VOC summaries will address issues outside the control of the individual contact center agent and identify both areas of opportunity and also those things which drive customer satisfaction.
Monitoring and Improvement
Once the initial implementation work has been completed, the longer term processes should include steps to seek constant improvement, both on the individual level and for the organization as a whole. A typical quality analysis over time will likely show that a few behaviors present a large majority of the quality failures. You should plan on identify each critical to success behavior and working on improvement plans until behavior levels are acceptable. Establishing a closed loop feedback process will become a critical part of the quality culture.
QA: In House or Outsource?
For some, the ability to develop a Quality Assurance department or program may not be cost effective or be may constrained by other considerations such as lack of software or scale. The qualified QA provider will supply the requisite software and personnel and a seamless consultative experience to those who find ground-up development too cost prohibitive to consider. Quality management can be the missing piece to move your brand ahead of the competition. Whether you create your own program or contract with a provider, Quality should always be integrated into all of your programs and will be in the long term, well worth the effort and investment.