An effective call center quality program is vital to keeping your call center running at peak efficiency. But making sure the program itself is also high quality is just as critical. At best, a poorly-designed or badly-executed program will give you an inaccurate picture of what’s working and what’s not. At worst, it can do serious damage to agent morale and productivity.
If you are looking to hire a call center quality assurance provider to manage your call center quality program, you’ll need to ensure that the candidate firm includes all five of these key “must-haves” in a comprehensive program. In our experience, the most successful call center quality programs benefit when these particular points are part of the plan:
- Clear Guidelines
I’ve talked in the past about how to set effective internal guidelines. (LINK TO PREVIOUS POST) They need to be clear and quantifiably measurable. You’ll want to be sure that you have a corresponding monitoring form that makes it easy to collect and track the data. Ensuring your requirements as black and white as possible keeps the playing field fair and level for everyone. In addition, your agents are more likely to respond positively — and achieve the results you want — if you’re completely up-front about your expectations.
Guidelines should also be in sync with your company’s goals and key performance indicator (KPI) metrics. If your company strategy changes, how fast will your quality program be adjusted by your QA partner to bring it in line with the new strategy?
When factoring in the customer experience, your criteria can be more subjective than it is when you’re just measuring whether an agent has fulfilled a list of requirements. For example, even if an agent gives the correct answers, does the caller believe what they’re told? (Research by Kolsky suggests that 64% of callers don’t trust the information they receive.)
Customer experience demands a genuine commitment from you and your quality assurance provider. If you don’t sincerely believe the customer really matters, your QA partner won’t be able to accurately evaluate the customer experience.
- Regular Evaluation
Quality assurance is never a “once and done” process. Your QA company will need to perform evaluations regularly and consistently to keep your call center at peak performance.
Regardless of the schedule you choose, you and your quality assurance firm must understand the schedule and ensure it is applied consistently to all of your agents so that no one feels singled out for unfair criticism. In addition to formal reviews, you or the QA firm will need to provide ongoing performance feedback. It’s especially important to flag items that need improvement as early as possible so there are no “big surprises” if tough decisions need to be made later on.
That said, it’s also essential to make sure praise is unbiased. Many supervisors naturally want “their people” to be highly ranked, which can skew evaluation results. Often this isn’t even intentional — star performers might unconsciously be ranked higher simply because they’re star performers.
- Positive Feedback Structure
Many advocates of negative feedback believe it’s worth ruffling a few feathers to get results. While this can work better than keeping expectations a secret, we’ve found that predominantly positive feedback drives even stronger — not to mention measurable — performance.
In fact, research suggests the worst form of feedback may be no feedback at all. A study by Gallup found that managers who give little or no feedback fail to engage 98% of their workers. When feedback is predominantly negative, worker engagement does rise slightly. But here’s the kicker: managers focusing on employee strengths & positive feedback are 30 times more likely to manage actively-engaged workers. Do the (positive) math.
Ask your quality assurance company where they stand on positive and negative feedback to better understand their methods before you hire them.
Your QA partner should create a structure that holds all levels of your organization accountable, including front line agents, supervisors, and yes – even you. According to the United States Office of Personnel Management, the benefits of constructive accountability include: improved performance, more employee participation and involvement, increased feelings of competency, increased employee commitment to the work, more creativity and innovation, and higher employee morale and satisfaction.
- Review. Recalibrate. Repeat.
Call center excellence is a moving target. Agents come and go, customer needs and trends change, technology disrupts markets. Great quality programs constantly review the organization’s progress. It is important to understand how often the vendor will review progress and use your goals and success criteria to calibrate your firm’s call center efforts to consistently stay on target. Be sure you ask them and are clear about reviews and recalibrations of the program.
Got a call center quality program that’s working great (or one that could use a bit of help)? Tell us about it!