How to improve quality in Contact Centers

Ultimate guide to contact center quality assurance

Looking to improve the overall performance of your contact center? Find out how quality assurance can strengthen your operation from details to strategy.

What is Contact Center Quality Assurance?

As a customer, your typical experience of contact center quality assurance is a voice recording saying the call might be recorded or monitored.

To contact centers, however, quality assurance should be at the heart of their operation. In an industry based on either providing premium customer service or driving sales, processes have to run like a well-oiled machine.

At least the following areas can greatly benefit from quality assurance:

  • Agent performance
  • Customer experience
  • Process standardization
  • Regulation compliance
  • Strategy alignment.

 

Through contact monitoring, quality assurance aims to improve overall contact center operations. Contact monitoring should provide valuable insight into all the channels used. Contact monitoring can include:

  • Live or post-call coaching for inbound and outbound calls
  • Emails
  • Web chats
  • Back-office work
  • Social media customer service.

Quality Assurance’s Role in Contact Centers

Even though quality assurance has become an important part of developing processes, its current status is undisputed only in inbound calls.

According to ContactBabel’s Contact Center Decision-Makers’ Guide 2019–20, over 90% of contact centers that do QA considered quality assurance very effective or fairly effective in improving the quality of inbound calls. Only 4% considered quality assurance ineffective in this area.

For outbound calls, the effectiveness rate dropped to around 50%, and even emails had to settle for rates of around 60%.

The surveys indicate that quality assurance hasn’t yet been fully incorporated in the modern omnichannel contact center world.

It’s also striking to note that only 55% of contact centers consider quality assurance effective in improving the organization as a whole.

In the UK, for example, 30% even regard it as ineffective, while 25% haven’t even tried utilizing quality assurance in strategic business improvements.

Three Reasons Why You Can’t Ignore Quality Assurance

In recent years, the contact center industry has slowly moved from efficiency-based monitoring towards a more holistic view of the factors that affect overall performance.

1) It adds focus on actual customer satisfaction

For a long time, agent efficiency was the basis for contact center quality assurance. Metrics such as average handling time or number of calls per hour are easy to measure and give an air of objectivity.

Focusing solely on efficiency, however, results in a rather simplistic view of the customer experience and journey.

ContactBabel’s research has repeatedly found that first call resolution is the most important factor in customer experience. This contradicts the standard quality assurance notion that customers hate long hold times more than anything.

Also, there is a difference between providing uniform service to everyone and being monotonous.

Sticking to checklist scripts at all times can actually have an adverse effect on customer experience. Customers are individuals and their needs differ. Repeating the same lines for every customer no matter what can make the customer service feel robot-like.

To meet the requirements of modern quality assurance, Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs should be used to complement the traditional efficiency metrics and rigid scripts.

2) It helps you to comply with regulation

Sometimes pre-determined scripts are called for. International, national and local regulations have to be taken into account at all contact centers.

Here are some examples of the regulation your quality assurance team should pay attention to:

  • Consent to call monitoring: The customers should know they are being monitored.
  • DNC (Do Not Call) registry: Don’t contact customers who have forbidden it.
  • Personal data: Personal customer data should be handled according to law.
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard: Contact centers that process credit card payments have to follow a set of rules.
  • Interest rates, terms, late fees etc.: The customers should be informed about the aspects that may affect their deal or contract.

3) It supports in validating your business strategy

Quality assurance should be an essential part of implementing and adjusting business strategy. Rather than isolating quality assurance to agent performance or another specific area, QA should be utilized to improve the whole organization.

You should measure the factors that are vital to your strategy. In today’s analytics-driven world, almost everything can be measured. To be effective, however, you need to focus the majority of your efforts on the KPIs that actively help you achieve your strategic goals. A well-planned QA process can balance traditional, efficiency-based performance metrics.

Creating a straight link from strategy to the tiniest QA detail ensures that your quality assurance moves from crumbs of data to strategic processes that have a genuine business impact.

Benefits of Quality Assurance

Investing in a systematic and insightful quality assurance process yields several benefits, including improved productivity and better recruiting.

Agent productivity and coaching is improved

Evaluating agent productivity and improving training methods are the traditional areas of quality assurance.

According to ContactBabel surveys, 45% of contact centers consider QA very effective in monitoring agent performance and training requirements, with around 40% considering it fairly effective respectively.

Having accurate data on agent performance is the first step in assessing the areas that most need training.

Agent training is an effective tool for improving contact center operations. All parties should recognize that, instead of trying to point out mistakes, quality assurance is a collaborative process aimed at improving all aspects of the contact center.

When agents are actively involved in developing scorecards and feedback models, they are more motivated and better able to provide valuable information about further improvements.

Training should focus on the positive and personal development, even when things aren’t going well and improvement is needed.

Develop the recipe for success and multiply it

Even though we earlier stated that contact centers have to remain empathetic and flexible, process standardization is inevitable for successful contact centers.

Measuring customer experience, agent productivity, and the subsequent training programs have a significant benefit – implementing the best standards found in the quality assurance data.

When you save all the interactions where customers feel they received world-class service, you can find the patterns that drive sales and generate customer loyalty.

Better recruitment

Recruiters can use quality assurance data to evaluate candidates and track their progress.

When agent productivity has been analyzed and uniform standards have been created, specific areas can be weighted in the recruitment process. This way the contact center can hire new agents that have already proven successful in the areas that matter the most in the industry.

After recruitment, it is easy to track how the new recruits are adapting to their new job. If the same attributes or characteristics regularly receive low scores among recruits, changes can be made to the induction process.

A quick guide to improving your QA

  1. Monitor systematically: To gain strategic insight, you need enough data that is measured in a way that supports your operation.
  2. Collaborate internally and externally: In addition to the quality assurance team, agents should also be involved in the QA process.
  3. Combine silent remote listening with whisper: Use the different monitoring methods effectively.
  4. Identify coaching opportunities: Remember to complement data with softer training methods.
  5. Compliant call recordings: Avoid hefty fines by sticking to the rules.
  6. Reward your agents for taking part: Don’t forget the power of instant positive feedback.
  7. Omnichannel contact center QA: There are various interaction channels that all have their own characteristics. Don’t focus exclusively on call monitoring.
  8. Call center QA benchmarking: Highlight the best problem-solving and customer service, so everyone can learn.

Interested in quick fixes to your QA process? In our blog, you can find out the first steps towards a world-class quality assurance process.

What’s new in quality assurance?

Customer interaction analytics

To create a successful quality assurance process, it’s vital to find the best and worst interactions and to learn from them.

The volume of interactions, however, is a problem. 85% of contact centers have trouble finding the time for QA with 61% claiming inadequate technology hinders their QA progress.

The most widely used monitoring method is call recording, which nearly all contact centers doing QA already use.

A traditional, manual monitoring process only provides insight into a fraction of the interactions that can benefit your contact center. Only 25% of the contact centers that use a manual process, consider call recording very effective for speeding up the QA process.

Among the centers that use interaction analytics software, the rate jumps to 65%.

Interaction analytics uses artificial intelligence, a contact center megatrend, to efficiently collect and analyze large volumes of data and interactions from all the channels at use. The data can then be categorized into specific areas for further analysis.

These areas include:

  • Compliance: verifying that the necessary regulation aspects have been covered
  • Adherence: analyzing how sticking to or departing from the script affects the interaction
  • Problems: identifying and handling problematic interactions
  • Training requirements: identifying the areas that require training.

The large-scale switch from simple call recording to sophisticated channel-specific interaction analytics is still on its way.

Approximately 30% of contact centers have utilized interaction analytics with 35% planning on utilizing it later.

The most popular choices of interaction analytics are historical speech analytics and desktop analytics, which concentrate on providing insight only after the interaction has ended.

The trending real-time analytics, on the other hand, provides tips while the interaction is ongoing. For example, the software can detect keywords and intonations and prompt the agent to react in a certain way during the call. Real-time analytics have been found especially helpful in handling unhappy customers.

The quality, speed, and versatility of interaction analytics are increasing dramatically, and the future will likely see analytics become an essential part of improving not only the QA process, but the contact center as a whole. For a more thorough view on how speech can be used in QA, check out our Speech-to-text blogpost.

Omnichannel 

66% of customers contact customer service using at least three channels. As the whole contact center industry is gravitating towards omnichannel operations and software, quality assurance has to follow suit.

The QA processes and technologies vary from one channel to another. While the most efficient method to monitor calls is automated speech analytics, different methods are required to get the most out of email or chat interactions.

The channel used at a contact center should never have to adapt to the QA process. It’s the evaluation forms and methods that have to be adapted to suit the channel.

Comprehensible reports

Traditionally, quality assurance reports used to be excel spreadsheets aimed at QA professionals. Deciphering the data was hard for anyone not specialized in the field.

As it’s becoming more evident that QA has potential in improving the overall operation of a contact center, the reports must be easy to understand throughout the organization.

Just as quality assurance managers should be able to dig deep into the reports and use the details to improve processes, executives should understand the strategic dimensions of QA reports in a matter of minutes. Also, feedback to agents becomes more effective when the agents can easily pick the main points in the report.

A modern contact center software has the features that allow you to score interactions, analyze and suggest improvements to processes, and create reports that don’t compromise between detail and clarity. For a full view on best practices regards to reporting in contact centers, check out our guide.

Conclusion

Quality assurance offers various ways to unlock the hidden potential of your contact center. To get the most of QA, the process should be aligned with business strategy. When the KPIs and metrics that are monitored are also aligned with the bigger picture, you can genuinely start to bear the fruit of quality assurance.

If you’re interested in omnichannel software, how it supports your agents, and how it enables you to successfully blend inbound and outbound, try our three blogs on omnichannel software.

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