Definition of Tactical,
In sports, tactics are plans made before the start of a game, to play against your opponent’s weaknesses and to your team’s strengths.
We prefer the more managerial definition;
Tactics are the actual means used to gain a business objective.
What we mean by a ‘Call Center QA Framework’ is the set of success criteria and metrics, set by the business based on an understanding of the customer service goals and the processes and tools employed to measure and manage the quality of service delivered on a day to day basis.
Evolving Your Call Center QA Framework: From Operational to Tactical
As a call center grows in size there is a realization that there is a need for a basic operational Quality Management framework to deliver consistency and help agents understand what is required of them. As the operation matures and the operational basics are in place the benefits of a solid QA structure are better understood by the business. Now that relationship between quality service and business success is more visible, most organizations begin to think about using QA as a tactical management tool.
How does a tactical quality assurance (QA) framework differ and complement operational and strategic frameworks within the complex multi-channel service delivery model that is the modern call center?
Where an operational call center QA framework is concerned with short-term processes and workflow decision-making, tactical frameworks address the medium-term business goals tailored by channel.
Tactical QA Inherently has more flexibility than operational frameworks, it takes a medium term view designed to ‘move the quality needle’ whereas a strategic QA framework is directly tied to long-term organizational objectives.
What it means to have a Tactical QA Framework Approach
As business and by extension the supporting call centers mature they naturally evolve from operational to tactical to strategic frameworks. To clarify, we must recognize that all centers — there are upwards of 45,000 in the US alone — as they mature will need to align (at least some aspects of their business) with a tactical QA framework approach.
Specifically, a call center taking a tactical QA framework approach is typically focused on the following more changeable aspects of measuring call center success:
- QA goals more often than not reflect medium-term business goals
- QA is used as a method for identifying process or service improvements which are then adopted and implemented
- QA processes, workflows, and wins are used to sell business
- QA evaluations are pushed to agents in real-time
In the midst of so much call center technological innovation with strides in artificial intelligence, live chat, social media customer service efforts, and mobile-readiness, call centers must be fast to adapt. Customer expectations are exceedingly high and getting higher.
In this 10 Predictions for 2017 study by Brainfood, consultant Martin-Hill Wilson points out that a growing portion of customers agree or strongly agree that a business should respond or be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It may be useful to keep this in mind as we review call center QA tactical frameworks and look towards a larger goal-oriented picture.
A Tactical Thought Process
Moving from Operational to Tactical means the internal conversation has to change. The diagram below illustrates the typical thought process that you need to go through when redesigning your call center QA framework.
Understanding Call Center QA Tactical Goals
More in-depth than operational call center QA goals, tactical goals are much more focused on growth and scalability than on processes and workflows for example.
#1 Improve client retention. Not only does a tactical framework demand consistent service delivery, but a level of quality service that results in higher client retention.
#2 Reduce staff churn. Reducing staff churn saves on invested time and dollars in staff training and development, and ultimately assists in maintaining a healthy client retention rate. A tactical framework points to call agent self-scoring as a method of getting to the root cause of an issue (see #4) while empowering employees with self-awareness and a weighted say in why and how a call succeeds or fails.
As expressed in a case study with Voxpro, staff agents tend to be more motivated when data measures success against more specific KPIs and can more fluidly inform direction shifts towards meaningful goals.
#3 Identify knowledge gaps. With an ability to look and see beyond the day-to-day process, a tactical framework lens enables Quality Assurance Leaders and others to do the job of using metrics to pinpoint specific knowledge gaps. These gaps may be found in the call center employee knowledge base, or reach as far as enterprise-wide product and service issues. Tactical frameworks begin to open this communication channel so that call centers can function as a more holistic part of the client’s business by identifying knowledge gaps and raising trending call concerns through the ranks.
#4 Look for the root causes of poor service. Rather than merely identifying poor performers based on somewhat subjective data points, a tactical call center QA approach digs deeper into identifying and understanding the true root cause of poor service. With a focus on the quality of the service rather than on the individual performer, the idea is to strengthen and empower employees through coaching and progress, ultimately reducing staff churn and improving the customer experience.
#5 Report on trends. With a focus on month-over-month, or year-over-year data, tactical pivots can and should be made. By collating trending data as opposed to one-off data points or subjective data collection, Quality Assurance Managers can make more informed decisions.
Call Center QA Tactical Frameworks at Work: A Voxpro Case Study
A firm that has shifted to a call center QA tactical framework is illustrated in our customer example and Voxpro case study.
Voxpro is a well-established, award winning call center with a global influence and high profile clients including Google, Stripe, and Airbnb. Voxpro was looking for a solution to their data fatigue. They were challenged by a lack of time and resources to analyze and correctly interpret large volumes of QA meta-data.
The end goal at Voxpro was to evolve from an operational (process and workflow-oriented) framework to a framework that is tactical (changeable and flexible). The Voxpro plan involved working to:
- Obtain a unified QA dashboard view of all pertinent analytics
- Gain the ability to analyze the data in real-time
- Implement new concepts of self-scoring and self-awareness for call center agents.
With these tactical goals at the fore, Voxpro identified exactly how a streamlined data solution could help them grow and improve. This is a solid outline for any call center also suffering from an abundance of meta data and interested in evolving toward a tactical or even strategic way of doing business.
The Voxpro success story continues with increased growth, higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, reduced employee churn, as well as root cause identification.
Kieren McCarthy, Head of Quality at Voxpro, summarizes his team’s tactical QA framework success and how he plans to build upon this into a strategic framework.
Next Steps: From a Tactical to a Strategic QA Framework
In the Voxpro case study example, we learn how flexible, medium-term business goals lead to greater client retention and higher CSAT scores while improving employee turnover. Pockets of value are uncovered by identifying knowledge gaps and taking action to improve communications. Even QA processes begin to be less cumbersome as metrics shift to a call center agent self-scoring process.
Evolving from a catch-as-catch-can approach within an operational framework of process and workflows, heading to a more tactically-influenced mindset, opens significant opportunities for continued growth through a strategic framework which is the next topic in this blog series.