Untangling the Web of Call Center Quality Assurance

Call Monitoring, Technology, Calibration, Training – Improving Customer Outcomes is Complex Business

Call Center Quality Assurance is All Grown Up.
Call Center Quality Assurance – the tasks, tools and procedures used by the call center industry to measure and improve the quality of the center’s operation – has certainly changed over the years.

Anyone who has been around the industry for a while remembers those checklists of skills that reps were supposed to use as the sum total of QA efforts. QA grew more sophisticated with the introduction of Key performance indicators (KPIs) that more effectively measured agent performance.

Today, call center quality continues to grow broader in scope with more realistic training, more accurate calibrations, and better technology that helps QA become a near-real-time feature of today’s call centers.

Call Monitoring.

Call monitoring has always been at the heart of traditional call center QA, and it has likewise always been a big component of what we do for clients here at CSR http://www.csr-net.com. Call monitoring allows clients to monitor frontline agent performance and compliance with standards. It is also an important and effective tool for employee development.

Male CsrToday, however, call monitoring is just one single aspect (albeit a still-very-important one) of call center QA, and remains a core tool for frontline call center oversight.  Three additional aspects to an effective call center quality assurance program are:

  1. Technology
    How important is technology to call center QA?
    It’s very important.
    Technology, done wrong, can complicate or hinder efficiency – adding additional steps or extra work for those managing call center agents.  Done right, it can deliver – in a high-level, at-a-glance dashboard format – the information necessary to provide agent performance feedback post-call.One factor we’ve found to matter is dashboard design: flexibility is the key. Fact is, most companies have their own unique take on what matters to them the most…their own key success factors. Flexible dashboards allow call centers to quickly assess what matters to them so they can find and fix issues faster.

    Flexibility is one of the reasons we encourage clients not to neglect system setup. With today’s software packages, the initial setup can make the difference between technology that provides what you want to know and technology that slows down work flow.

  2. Calibration
    ‘Calibration’ is a widely-used term in call centers, and with good reason: like any machine (even well-oiled ones), call centers need to measure and adjust as necessary to changing conditions. Calibration is a straightforward concept: make sure everyone involved in the call center process (frontline, support, managerial) is on the same page .There’s a reason we (and many of our competitors as well) suggest monthly calibration meetings – they work.Call center QA programs need to be dynamic in nature. A secondary benefit of properly-executed calibrations is a QA program that changes as needed to stay current with overall organizational needs and objectives.
  3. Training
    Training – the single most important aspect of call center quality assurance – is often the most underused. Budgets tend to preclude the proper roll out, which should involve call center supervisor training followed by agent training.How training is rolled out determines how happy your personnel will be with the change. We typically hear frontline staff say change is welcome – especially when everyone gets what they need to do their jobs correctly!

    Fact is, agents and supervisors have to be trained in each of the skills, behaviors, and processes that are going to be measured…and for which they’ll be held accountable. The better – and more accurate – the training, the better the outcomes…and the happier the frontline personnel.

Comprehensive quality assurance programs truly encompass it all – the effectiveness of training programs, frontline agent performance objectives, compliance and business processes (e.g., IVR issues).  Each of these core quality areas can be scored separately, and then ratcheted up to an overall quality score, based on degree of importance given to each quality area.

What aspects of call center QA do you feel make the biggest difference in performance?