Your call center is the voice of your company. Do you know what it sounds like?
Let’s talk about contact center QA, aka Quality Assurance of your phone support. In this edition of the Call Center Stories, Ahmad Baydoun, Contact Center Manager at a leading customer experience management company shares his best tips and tricks on how to monitor and improve the quality of your call center with the help of regular conversation reviews, agent feedback, and solid QA program.
Regardless of whether you provide in-house phone support or use a contact center’s service, the person that picks up the phone when a customer calls creates the (first) impression of your company. Make sure it’s impeccable.
Here are ten tips from Ahmad that will help you set up a call center QA program that will never fail you:
- Define what you want to achieve (or what your contact center customer wants to achieve). Understand what you want the support conversation to sound like, which performance metrics matter most for this particular team, and which ones need to be improved to achieve the call center’s grand vision.
Every support team has a unique set of quality criteria for their customer interactions. This means that there is no “one-size-fits-all” scorecard for internal quality reviews, instead each team creates a custom rubric that reflects their specific goals and priorities. The better you align your scorecard with your support and business goals, the easier it will be to achieve those targets with the help of your QA program and agent feedback.
- Build your quality team. Start by analyzing how many people you need to be able to review a reasonable amount of your customer calls. Make sure your review sample is big enough to be representative of the quality trends in your team. Then calculate how many people it will take to listen to these 5-10% of all call recordings and provide meaningful feedback to all agents.
Another thing that you should consider when setting up your QA team is whether to hire dedicated QA staff or hand these responsibilities over to the Operations team. While the first option is the most common way of handling conversation reviews, Ahmad brought out a number of advantages of trusting QA with the Operations team – like tying quality goals to overall business strategies.
Read more about the choice between Quality and Operations teams in the previous article from the Klaus Call Center Stories with Ahmad Baydoun.
- Train your QA team properly. It’s clear that the QA staff has to be aware of the team’s quality goals but knowing the scorecard by heart is not enough. Make sure your QA staff training covers topics related to the business – the product, customer segments, value propositions, business opportunities, and the operational side like quality tools, reports, etc.
Bear in mind that QA staff training is not a one-time effort. Just like your agents and other employees need regular training to stay on top of the game, your quality personnel requires a consistent training plan as well. This will make sure that quality reviews never lag behind the business or product developments.
- QA team needs quality calibrations. No matter how well you’ve trained your QA staff, there’s always a chance that different reviewers score the same conversation differently. That’s just human.
Quality calibrations will help you ensures consistency throughout all conversation reviews. There are different methods and setups for QA calibrations, but the goal of them is always the same: to make sure all reviewers evaluate calls the same way. That’s how you can make sure that all agents receive the same level of feedback regardless of which reviewer scored their performance.
- Calibrate quality with your clients. One of the most common things that contact centers miss in their quality programs is doing calibration sessions with their customers. Having company representatives in quality calibrations helps to align your QA program with your customer’s expectations. This makes sure you don’t drift too far away from their vision.
Start by benchmarking your quality goals with your customer and then invite them to occasionally join your calibration sessions. You’ll get a better understanding of how they would evaluate certain situations, and, more importantly, why they think this way. They know their business better, so it’s up to them to decide what’s the right way of handling customer calls.
- Outliers have to be replaced. Letting people go is never Ahmad’s first choice. Only if the performance doesn’t improve after a series of coaching, one-on-one sessions, and re-trainings, does he look for an exit phase. Use QA results and IQS scores to highlight the outliers in the team and track their performance over time. Act accordingly when you see no positive changes in their performance.
Ahmad also reassures that replacements actually happen very rarely. If you hire the right people, train them well, coach through calibrations and regular feedback, the chances of having outliers in the team are very low.
- Hire QA staff with data analysis skills. When talking about hiring the right people for call center Quality Assurance positions, Ahmad considers data skills to be a must-have. QA people have to be best friends with data. From understanding how to interpret the KPIs to design meaningful graphs based on what they’ve learned, the QA team is often responsible for making sense of how customer-facing operations perform.
Quality staff has to be able to communicate their findings to other teams and pass data on to, for example, the Operations Team in an understandable language and manner. An accomplished quality reviewer can also propose appropriate actions for improvements based on the analysis they’ve conducted.
- Create connections with other departments. The call center QA team can’t work as an independent and autonomous unit. The information they receive from the customers has to find its way to other departments who will use this data as input for product developments, business strategies, marketing and PR, and other purposes.
Creating reports to highlight findings from customer calls is an effective way of passing this information on to other teams in a structured way. In addition to that, make sure that your contact center has the necessary channels for reaching out to the company’s teams immediately in case anything urgent comes up, or if there’s anything they’d like to discuss in more detail – such as how to approach a specific business opportunity as it appears.
- Set up a decent QA program and infrastructure. Help your QA team conduct quality reviews efficiently by giving them the right tools (like the support QA tool Klaus) and frameworks to work with. You’ll save your team heaps of time and tedious work they’d otherwise spend on managing the review procedures manually.
Set specific QA goals for your reviewers (we’ve learned that daily goals bring the best results), do regular quality calibrations and training, and create a habit of reporting to make your call center QA work like clockwork. A solid QA infrastructure helps your quality team succeed in their job.
- Close the feedback loop. Everything you learn from the customer interactions has to be used in a meaningful way – as feedback to agents, or input for other teams.
The Quality team has the potential to fulfill this role in contact centers. They are the people who have the best overview of all customer interactions and are able to report the findings back to all affected parties. Make your quality team responsible for closing the feedback loop and making sure that customer feedback is used in the most efficient manner.
Setting up a dedicated team for call center QA is necessary for all contact centers that want to offer their customers personalized and high-quality support services. Regular conversation reviews and agent feedback irons out inconsistencies in your support team’s performance.
The success of your QA program, however, depends a lot on the people who conduct the quality reviews. The number of people you have to manage QA, the amount of (continuous) training you provide, and the channels you’ve built for internal and external communication will define the results of your quality program.
Moar actionable CX for your QA program
Ahmad Baydoun condensed his 10+ experience in working, growing, and managing call center teams into ten fundamentals of building a strong quality program for your team. If you found these useful, you will probably also like other articles in the series Klaus Call Center Stories with Ahmad:
- Fireside Chat: Life in a Contact Center
- 3 Ways to Improve FCR in Contact Centers
- Quality vs Operations Teams
If you’d like to ask anything from Ahmad, head over to our online CX community, Quality Tribe. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences on building a QA team for a contact center.