Quality improvement is dependent upon a commitment to two things — to monitor customer interactions and to use those interaction evaluations within a performance improvement process. This article will provide tips on how to create and manage a performance improvement process utilizing a quality assurance team.
The most effective quality monitoring process combines feedback from a third party QA team with onsite monitoring from the front line supervisors. Some add a third layer into the process with internal quality analysts to supplement the monitoring and coaching being done at the agent level. These QAs are more like coaches, they direct, instruct and train the agents with an aim to help them offer quality services to customers.
However, these internal QAs cannot replace the third party team. An outside QA team is critical to:
- provide unbiased feedback to improve agent behavior
- conduct analytical studies on quality trends and the impact to the customer experience
- deliver customer sentiment analysis to better understand the impact of service on the customer’s attitude toward products and services
An internal QA team should not replace the front line supervisor’s role in monitoring either. They simply supplement the process. It is critical that the supervisor monitor his/her team to provide adequate and relevant coaching. While an internal QA can certainly conduct side-by-sides to provide real time feedback, the most constructive coaching should come from the supervisor who has developed a relationship with the agent.
The third party team can be utilized in different ways. Because of their expertise they should provide analytical reports to:
- identify trends and outliers
- group repeat offenders with performance trending
- showcase best practices from top performers
- recommend important scripting changes
- identify process improvement opportunities
- communicate marketing wins and losses
- point out competitor advantages
The best monitoring program uses both side by side monitoring with remote monitoring via either real time listening or through recorded calls. If recorded calls are used, the evaluations should be done within 24 hours of the recorded call for optimum and timely coaching.
Side by side monitoring gives the supervisor a good indicator of the agent’s true product, call flow, and process knowledge. They will be on their very best behavior during these monitoring sessions. If this side by side monitoring session shows deficiencies, it can be addressed through coaching and follow up monitoring or, in extreme cases, through re-training.
Remote monitoring lets you hear or see what the customer is experiencing. For those agents who perform well during side by sides but show opportunities during remote monitoring, a “will” issue may be the reason. The supervisor must address these instances quickly and aggressively. While a “skill” opportunity can oftentimes be overcome with coaching and training, a “will” issue is most often due to underlying reasons. Until those reasons are resolved, there is a risk of continued poor behavior.
A good performance improvement process will ensure that feedback from monitoring sessions is used effectively to coach and develop. A standard performance improvement process includes the following:
Documentation of coaching sessions. This documentation can be either soft or hard copy. The most important aspect of the documentation is that it be reviewed by the campaign leader to develop the supervisor and to make sure that it is being used – not simply completed, signed and filed.
The campaign leader should meet with the agents to inspect that the coaching documentation is accurate and the agent is improving based on the feedback. Simply inspecting a binder or folder will not establish the coaching routine that is needed for performance improvement.
The documentation should show the follow up steps and then check off when the follow up occurs. Did it result in improvement? Was the improvement sustained? A quick check of agent stats could provide that information.
Documentation of calibration sessions
The QA team (either internal or external) should keep a folder with the minutes of all calibration sessions. The campaign leader must ensure that calibrations are held regularly, operations leaders are attending along with the QA team, and actionable steps are being created as a result of the sessions. It is extremely important for an external QA team to be in the loop of all script, product, and promotion changes as well as any process or application changes that may impact the call flow. These calibration sessions will help in closing any gaps in communication.
Varied coaching techniques
Supervisors must understand how to coach and develop employees. Any trainer can tell you that adults learn in different ways. The three primary methods are:
- Visual – See it
- Auditory – Hear it
- Kinesthetic – Do it
A supervisor needs to understand how each member of his team learns so that coaching can be tailored to fit each agent. One to one discussion works for some while others need to role play or do a group activity. Supervisors should know their teams well enough to understand how best to coach each team member and be able to use multiple techniques to achieve success.
Rewards and Recognition
A performance improvement process must include some level of reward and recognition. Rewards do not have to be monetary. In fact, many find recognition to be the largest motivator. This recognition can come in many forms, from a shout out during a pre-shift meeting for a quality call to being asked to mentor a new team member.
Your performance improvement process should be documented and shared with your team. It is important that this be a living document – updated regularly to ensure that all steps have been implemented and are being followed. As you calibrate the process be sure to make changes to the document so that it contains the most up to date information. Monitoring and feedback is only as good as the follow up to ensure growth. Without a plan to guarantee this follow up occurs, it will fall to the wayside. Ownership and accountability are essential to executing a successful quality monitoring and performance improvement process.