Almost every call center offers the same brief message, “For quality and training purposes, this call may be recorded or monitored.” But what does that mean? What exactly is call quality and why is it important to monitor within your contact center?
Call quality and call center quality monitoring are topics that seems straightforward, but are actually difficult to perform correctly. It’s not enough to just record random phone calls between customers and agents. It’s how you review the calls and take actions based on the results of your monitoring, that can have the greatest impact on customer experience.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into call quality and monitoring, why it’s so important and what your contact center can do to achieve success.
What is Call Quality?
How efficient and effective are your customer service calls? That’s what call quality measures.
You’re looking for calls that include all the elements necessary for success:
- Short wait times
- Proper tone of voice
- Skilled listening
- Appropriate speaking speed
- The right language
- Effective questioning, including the use of open, probing, and closed questions
- Good rapport
- Demonstrated emotional intelligence skills
- Well-managed customer expectations
It’s how all of the above elements work together that determines if the call is high-quality or not. The goal should be for the customer to hang up feeling positive and cared for. They should have a clear solution, know how to avoid the same issue in the future, and have no further questions.
What is Call Quality Monitoring and Why is it Important?
To measure call quality, you have to monitor and analyze strategic customer service interactions and scrutinize your contact center’s operations. It requires your team to listen to and evaluate calls, read emails, review chat transcripts, and monitor social media interactions.
It’s all about consistently gauging customer satisfaction.
If done correctly, the quality monitoring (QA) process provides your team with a rich source of data and insight into your agents and your customers. The goal being to optimize the financial ROI of your contact center by finding and fixing broken processes, revealing areas for improvement and development, and directly influencing management’s decisions regarding customer service.
7 Steps to Effective Call Quality Monitoring Best Practices
Call quality monitoring is essential if you want to create a consistent customer experience and a high-performing workforce that garners results. But listening to strategic customer service calls is only one piece of the call quality monitoring puzzle.
If you want to get the most out of your contact center QA process, you need to follow seven steps.
Step 1: Develop a Quality Assurance Team
The first step to monitoring call quality is to develop a quality assurance (QA) team. This team—typically made up of your contact center managers, supervisors, and high-performing call center agents—must thoroughly understand your brand of customer service. They need to know your company well especially the type of customer experience you desire because they will be responsible for setting up every aspect of your QA process, including setting your call quality standards.
Step 2: Set Your Quality Standards
Your quality standards are how you will judge the success or failure of every customer interaction. Without standards, you won't know whether you’re hitting or you’re missing. Instead, quality standards that break down your customer service into a set of behaviors, rules, goals, and benchmarks that every interaction should meet, will help you determine if you’re already performing well and whether you will need to make improvements.
It’s all about determining the various elements of every customer interaction that are paramount to providing an exceptional customer experience.
This means that you might look at such factors as customer sentiment post-transaction, employee engagement, and product/service efficacy. Your quality standards might also include:
- brand experience,
- effective problem solving,
- employee attitude,
- customer satisfaction,
- and competency.
And remember, quality standards should not be applied to just phone calls. Review emails, analyze chat transcripts, observe social media interactions, and monitor texts to make sure every agent and every interaction adheres to your quality standards.
Step 3: Consider all Call Quality Parameters (KPIs)
Three of the most important call center KPIs you should measure include:
- Average Handle Time: How long it takes your agents to handle a call. This metric cannot be used in isolation—as a short call is not necessarily a good thing unless the customer’s issues are resolved that quickly. Instead AHT must be combined with your customer satisfaction scores, so that you can more accurately determine what timing is most effective for helping customers. For example, if ten minutes is considered the average handle time to completely satisfy a customer, a call that’s only two minutes in length may raise a red flag.
- Net Promoter Score: NPS should be at the heart of your contact center QA strategy. It measures how likely your customers are to recommend your brand to their family and friends.
- First Call Resolution: Customers love to have their questions answered the first time around. It results in higher satisfaction levels.
Step 4: Create Call Center Quality Monitoring Scorecards
There are many quality monitoring solutions suitable for carrying out QA in your contact center. From speech analytics software to spreadsheets and in-house built solutions, there are solutions for every type of contact center. One of the easiest to implement and most successful call monitoring solutions is QA scoring software.
A QA scorecard is a grading rubric for calls, emails, chats, text messages, and social media. It’s a list of requirements and standards that every customer interaction must achieve to be considered successful. A scorecard is paramount to determining if your agents meet the quality standards set in place.
Building a call center quality monitoring scorecard isn’t difficult. Ideally, you’d bring in your QA specialist team to collaborate with agents (your agents, supervisors, and managers will be more likely to participate in the call monitoring process if they are given the opportunity to contribute to the creation of your scorecard metrics).
From there, you’ll commit to a set of benchmarks or metrics for customer service success.
Benchmarks for your scorecard might include:
- Conversation opening: How well did the agent open up the conservation? Did they demonstrate their willingness to listen and follow the company’s guidelines for opening a conversation?
- Identification: Did the agent identify the customer’s issue, understanding their pain?
- Exploring the issue: How well did the agent listen to the customer’s story to understand every facet of the issue they were facing?
- Offering solutions and information: Did the agent follow all necessary processes to offer options and solutions to solve the customer’s issue?
- Resolving the issue: Was the issue completely resolved by the end of the call so that they will not need to call again?
- Checking in with the customer: Before hanging up, did the agent confirm that all customer pain points were addressed and that they were satisfied with their interaction?
- Closing and wrap up: Did the agent successful close the conversation with the customer and then record key details of the interaction afterward?
Remember to include both customer and business priorities within your call center quality monitoring scorecard to drive positive financial changes. You’ll also want to adjust your scorecard benchmarks based on the channel your customer uses to contact you as well as the type of contact.
For example, proactive customer service communication, which focuses on a new product or service, should focus on how well an agent met the goal of the call and kept the customer happy. On the other hand, a reactive customer service call with a frustrated customer in need of support should have metrics that are adjusted to their specific situation. And the same goes for an email conversation versus a phone call.
Using Scorebuddy Scorecards and Forms
Scorebuddy scorecards can be built using an intuitive call monitoring forms builder. This makes it easy to develop multiple scorecards, which can be used to evaluate customer interactions across channels—IM, email, social media, complains, chat, etc.
Scorebuddy enables both your agents and supervisors to review their call performance, which opens up communication. Not only do the agents receive an individual report on their performance, so they know where they need to improve and where they are already succeeding, but you can review patterns and trends in QA across groups and teams.
And one of the key benefits of Scorebuddy is the ability to create customizable scorecards using non-traditional call center metrics as needed. You can develop a holistic scorecard or something more quantitative. It can be anything you want based on your QA score rules and policies.
Step 5: Evaluate the Scorecards and Provide Agent Feedback
Once you create your Scorebuddy scorecards and quality monitoring forms, it’s time to monitor and evaluate strategic phone calls, chats, and emails. This is when you can judge agent performance against the scorecard benchmarks and help them to make appropriate adjustments to these behaviors.
During the evaluation process, ensuring that your employees adhere to the standards set in Step 2 is key. Your quality standards should be in line with your company’s priorities, and thus should account for agent behaviors that are essential for success as well as any mistakes and shortcomings they may have.
Just be sure to focus on both the negatives and positives of each of your agents during the QA review process. It’s this balance of their strengths and weaknesses that will help you make the most improvements and lasting change in your contact center.
Step 6: Focus on Processes and Employees
While providing feedback to your contact center agents is essential, it’s only one small piece of quality assurance. Fixing one employee’s mistake is valuable, but not as valuable as revamping processes that would positively affect multiple agents.
Call quality monitoring best practices requires your QA team to identify recurring problems or behaviors that have emerged across multiple agents. For example, you might notice creep up on customer hold time or specific product issues that require the same problem resolution. It’s essential to determine the reason behind the recurring problem and to make appropriate adjustments based on the more complex issue instead of the most obvious.
For instance, instead of telling your agents that they need to pick up phone calls faster, after review, you might discover that customer hold time is increasing because you recently released a new product that’s demanding more customer service. In this case, to help your team handle the pressure, you could invest in more online customer service tools to support their efforts and improve their efficacy.
Step 7: Don’t Forget Call Center Compliance
Maintaining compliance within your contact center can be difficult because you have a ubiquitous global presence. However, compliance with certain rules and regulations is essential if you want to legally remain open for business.
For example, if you’re a financial institution, you must provide specific information as the law requires. You are also expected to inform customers that their calls may be monitored or recorded.
How to Improve the Quality of Your Customer Service Calls
Your call center monitoring scorecards and call monitoring forms provide you with essential data about the quality of every customer service interaction. Once collected, this data should be transformed into actionable items useful for the management team. Only after that can it be effectively used to create important and lasting change.
Here are a few crucial ways to transform your data into action.
1. Train Managers and Agents
Creating and using QA scorecards is a great first step toward call monitoring and successful customer service. However, without training your managers and agents on how to assess their behaviors and activities, the scorecards will be nothing more than a bunch of numbers. Only with a comprehensive understanding of your metrics—why they are important and how you can achieve them—can you start to generate positive results.
To make this possible, you’ll need to implement various training initiatives, including ongoing coaching sessions, to ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page. These training sessions are your opportunity to identify areas of strength as well as areas where improvement is needed. And with continuous training, you ensure that your agents keep up with customer experience expectations.
2. Analyze Scorecard Data
The quality of your scorecard data will determine how accurately and effectively you can determine the best ways to improve your customer service. Whatever elements you want to measure can be included in your scorecard forms as long as they:
- Align with company policy, customer expectations, KPIs, and external benchmarking
- Are clearly defined, including what will be measured and how
- Collect customer data via interviews, surveys, and focus groups
- Identify excellent, average, and poor quality examples of behaviors
- Are regularly updated based on your definition of outstanding performance
After this scorecard analysis, take the necessary actions within your contact center to reflect on what you’ve determined is a successful call. This could mean validating positive behaviors, implementing more training where necessary, or even revising call scripts and procedures to better line up with your approved scorecard metrics.
3. Strategically Select Calls to Monitor
Be as strategic as possible when choosing which calls to monitor. You cannot monitor every customer interaction—there’s not enough time in the day—but random call monitoring isn’t helpful either. You need to monitor calls that are truly indicative of agent performance, which means selecting calls strategically based on importance and criticality.
For example, you should monitor calls that include:
- High-value prospects
- Poor-performing agents who need continued training
- High-performing agents who can be representatives of exceptional customer interactions
- Customers with negatives experiences with the company
- Customers who completed the survey at the end of an interaction
- Customers who went from a negative to a positive result
4. Repeat QA as Needed
QA is not a “one and done” process. It is constantly evolving, which means it requires continual adjustments to remain valid. It’s especially important to update your scorecard metrics as your needs change, as customer expectations shift, and as agents experience new situations.
Your scorecard should always evolve with your company to ensure the best possible service. The last thing you want is a scorecard that no longer reflects your company's priorities or your customer’s desires.
By engaging in this systematic and standardized QA process, you’ll ensure that your team delivers exceptional service.
Call center quality monitoring is more than just transforming your managers into overlords cracking their whips and micromanaging. To create a successful call quality monitoring program, your QA department must develop trust with your agents and encourage cooperation. By doing this, you ensure they feel more engaged in their role creating positive customer service outcomes.
The end goal of your call quality monitoring should be to develop tangible strategies to improve customer satisfaction and employee engagement. QA should use data to go in-depth into what your customer service team is doing well and where they can improve before they hurt the bottom line.
Investing in quality assurance will ensure your business doesn't just survive, but it thrives.