When 79% of customer leaders agree that customers are smarter & more informed now than in the past, call centers need robust action plans to meet their expectations. If you agree – welcome, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you have a call center quality assurance review program that needs updating, you are looking to check in on best practices, or you are just starting out, this guide is here to help.
What is call center quality assurance?
Call center quality assurance is the practice of reviewing and analyzing customer conversations. By rating performance and processes based on different categories, you can provide data-driven feedback and determine paths to improvement. This is an ongoing process that helps you keep up with rising customer expectations.
Your call center QA action plan:
- Build a vision for your service
- Define Quality Assurance criteria and scorecard
- Set up your Quality Assurance procedure
- Make conversation reviews systematic
- Make use of your review feedback
Now, let’s dig into each of these steps one by one and create a quality assurance framework that aligns with your call center needs.
1. Build a vision for your service
Before you rush into analyzing your call center interactions you should have a clear vision of what you want your customer service to look like. Some companies aim to provide a high level of support to all users across all platforms, while others put their focus on specific customers or channels. Neither approach is wrong, but a successful QA program is defined by your aim and structure.
Call centers are not a “one size fits all” type of service. Your support strategy should align with your company’s vision and goals. So, when you’re creating a call center quality assurance review process, start by defining who you are:
What do we do?
You likely know your value proposition, and it can fit into the sentence “We offer phone support for…”. Whatever your unique selling point is, you want whatever type of customer service you deliver to be of high quality. And you want to train and retain agents who deliver excellent support that aligns with this purpose.
Whom do we serve?
Options range from helping all users equally, including trials and leads, to focusing specifically on paying or premium users. It’s mostly a business decision, but your branding team might also have a say in this, as all your customer-facing activities have an impact on your company image.
How do we serve them?
On the one side of the scale, there are teams that focus strictly on giving quick, short, and to-the-point answers. However, this style is being slowly replaced by extensive and interactive knowledge bases, or help centers, or even chatbots that can answer basic questions.
On the opposite side, there are companies that see customer service as a major revenue driver. This style of support is on the increase. Teams focused on support-driven growth always go that extra mile to offer additional information to customers, in order to expand customer engagement and upsell their products.
So, your call center vision might range from “We offer phone support to everyone, with a sharp focus on providing quick help” to “Our call center works with our premium customers by solving their issues, driving product engagement and upsells.”
The route you take determines your quality assurance review process. Your conversation reviews drive success, by giving you evidence-based feedback that helps you construct trainings, influence coaching, and eventually drive performance.
2. Define Quality Assurance criteria and scorecard
Goal-setting tends to be the part of the QA configuration that people often rush through. However, it plays a crucial role in aligning your conversation reviews with your support vision, so make sure you don’t skip this bit.
This step consists of four components to help you build a scorecard that reflects how your team is performing based on your idea of excellent service:
Go back to your support vision and break it down to 2-4 specific goals. For example, are you looking for ways to boost your CSAT, provide faster solutions, or improve your agents’ product knowledge?
Goals will direct you to the aspects of the conversations that you need to analyze, help you build team cohesion, and pivot quickly if needed – read more about the benefits of goal setting.
Create rating categories that reflect your goals
Match each of your goals with at least one rating category on your QA scorecard. Make sure all your goals are represented in your call center QA reviews but try not to overdo it. 1-2 rating categories per target should be enough.
For example, if you are polishing agents’ product knowledge, include “provided accurate product information” as an assessment criterion. Those looking for ways to make their calls feel warmer and friendlier should include a category for “empathy”, and maybe also “appropriate opening and closing lines”.
Prioritize your rating categories, if necessary
Turn to your vision and goals to understand which of your rating categories matter the most to you. Give those categories more weight in your internal assessments.
For example, sharing correct product information might be more critical than the agent’s vocabulary. You can also make certain categories critical – which means passing them is a prerequisite for a passing overall score.
Agree upon a rating scale
Implement a scoring system that is easily understandable to all reviewers, so that they would assess tickets in the same manner. This can be as simple as 2-point scale, so that reviewers can only give a thumbs up or a thumbs down in each rating category. Or it could be as long as a score out of 10.
✨ The case for granular rating categories:
Each conversation needs to be reviewed in accordance with your universal quality standards.
✨ The case for general rating categories:
Reviews should be (relatively) quick and easy for the reviewer and reviewee.
Your call center scorecard is the foundation of your QA process, so it’s worthwhile to dedicate time to creating a proper one. If you skip the vision and goal-setting parts, you might end up with assessment criteria that are irrelevant to your call center.
Instead of overwhelming reviews with dozens of questions, concentrate on the aspects of your team’s interactions that matter most to you.
3. Set up your Call Center QA review procedure
Before you get going with conversation reviews, you need to give this process a solid structure. This will make your QA consistent, transparent, and understandable for everyone.
Though some people see call center QA as a time-consuming and burdensome procedure, it doesn’t have to be like that. Keep efficiency in mind when designing your conversation reviews by finding answers to the following quality assurance questions:
Who should conduct your call center QA reviews?
Choose between managers, QA specialists, peers, and self-reviews. They all have their pros and cons, so see which one works best for you:
- Managers can review a limited number of cases. This is important for them to understand the strengths and weaknesses within their team and the processes in a broader context.
- QA specialist reviews help make measuring and improving quality makes it a top priority company-wide. Having a specialist prevents this task falling down on the to-do list of other responsibilities.
- Peer reviews are the most time-efficient form of internal assessment that push agents to learn from each other. As long as you have team calibration sessions, this is an excellent format to promote shared standards.
- Self-reviews help agents understand their areas of improvement, which is the key to agents’ professional growth. It is rare to adopt this as a solo format, and is perfect to instead introduce for performance reviews.
How many calls should you review?
Unfortunately, the vague answer to this question is ‘it depends’. The question you should be answering instead is which calls should we select for call center QA reviews?
For example, you may want to focus on one or several of the below:
- Complex interactions, where there is a more lengthy back-and-forth and no easy solution,
- New agent conversations, as part of their onboarding program,
- Conversations where the customer gave a bad CSAT rating.
If you are set on a numerical target, it is easier to express your goal as a percentage of the total volume. This keeps your call center QA reviews statistically relevant as your company grows.
Klaus’ Conversation Insights tool helps you filter conversations by your desired criteria, to pluck out the ones that matter.
How to organize your QA process
Although companies often start by using spreadsheets to organize their internal feedback, this quickly becomes difficult to scale, difficult to manage, and a waste of data. QA management platforms like Klaus reduce the time spent on administrative work and streamline the quality assurance process.
Companies like Glovo decreased the amount of time they spent on QA by 80% when they switched from spreadsheets to Klaus.
Having a proper setup for your call center QA is crucial, because it helps you keep track of your team’s performance over time and provide consistent feedback to your agents. The more convenient, flexible, and transparent the procedure is for everybody, the more likely they are to participate in it.
4. Make conversation reviews systematic
As you start doing conversation reviews in your call center, keep in mind that consistency is your key to success. To get a picture of how your phone support is performing and to track it over time, you should approach it in a well-organized manner.
For example, you may want to set a goal to ensure that every agent conducts several peer reviews per week, and all managers conducts several reviews per agent per month.
Klaus’ assignments feature allows you to allocate call center QA reviews to your reviewers, according to your own set criteria. Automation helps you stay on track of goals!
Read on: Auto QA – Automation and AI for Customer Service Quality
These basic rules will help you stay on track:
Listen to the entire call
Though at times you might be tempted to skip the small talk and jump to the next question on your scorecard, you should always pay attention to the full conversation. Otherwise, you won’t get an accurate notion of the agents’ tone and style. Plus, you might miss some crucial information buried in the small talk. Giving incorrect ratings will do injustice to the reviewee and diminish the entire QA procedure.
Do conversation reviews across channels
If you also offer customer service in other channels besides phone support, make sure you track data that is comparable across all platforms. This will help you maintain a consistent level of quality. 58% of customers are frustrated with getting different experiences depending on the channel, so it’s something that most companies cannot afford to ignore.
Call center QA is not a one-time project. It’s an ongoing process that helps you boost and maintain the quality of your support team. Your products and teams are likely to change over time, so you need to make sure that both your new hires and old-timers are meeting your quality standards alike.
Systematic conversation reviews help you stay in control of what is happening in your customer service. If you notice a decrease in any of the support metrics that you track, internal call center evaluations will help you identify the areas that your team needs to work on.
5. Make use of your review feedback
Before diving into your team’s call recordings, plan out how you will use the information that you’re gathering. Don’t think of quality assurance as a way to pinpoint mistakes your agents are making; think of it as an opportunity to help your team grow through feedback. Utilize your data to its maximum, through call center training, trend spotting, and accurate reporting.
Input for 1:1 meetings
Use call reviews as the basis for giving feedback to your agents. Find your agents’ areas of growth and set actionable and time-bound goals. Then see how your team progresses from call to call.
Food for thought for self-reflection
Analyzing their own performance against internal quality standards helps agents improve their interactions. According to a study published in the Journal of Business Research, self-assessments boost the quality of customer service and can increase your NPS by 5%.
Tracking your Internal Quality Score (IQS)
IQS is the conversation review metric that reflects how your team performs against your internal quality standards. It’s a perfect KPI to report to your managers, as it provides a different perspective to your customers’ opinions expressed in metrics like CSAT, NPS, and CES.
A proper quality assurance process combines qualitative insight with countable data that helps you understand how your team performs through time. Use this information to aid your team excel in their job and to report your successes to the higher-ups.
The quality of your call center is highly dependent on the success of your quality assurance processes.
If you’ve set up a QA scorecard that reflects your company’s values and goals, you’ll be able to understand how your team performs against your internal quality standards. QA does not look the same for every call center.
This is why you need a tool flexible enough to accommodate your goals, and any internal structural changes.