Performing Quality Assurance isn’t really fun for anyone. It is certainly necessary if you want to ensure that your agents are working effectively and appropriately. But there is no denying that “being watched” is a turnoff for most, if not all, employees. Constant monitoring of workers can feel like an implication of poor performance, or even like a punishment for those who know they have not been performing well.
So how do you do Quality Assurance the right way, so your staff actually feels good about it? When done correctly, quality assurance benefits everyone. Your agents will learn and advance, your company will perform well, and your customers will be satisfied with their experiences. Do it right, and QA is a win-win-win! Additionally, QA is a crucial part of your company’s growth - tracking customer service quality as your customer base grows will reveal the wide variety of expectations your agents need to meet.
First off, it’s worth noting that some people make a career out of Quality Assurance. A Quality Assurance Specialist will often monitor phone calls to determine the accuracy of information and quality delivered in customer service exchanges. Again, no employee wants someone breathing down their neck while they answer calls. To keep things light in the workplace, here are some ways that you, or your QA Specialist, can use QA to boost agent engagement and morale.
Employees want to advance in their careers and make more money. As a result, many of them are actually more open to training than you might expect.
Training is important as part of their onboarding, but needs to be a continuing conversation throughout their time with your company.
Commit to training on best practices from day one, and then offer (or mandate) further training periodically to help your agents keep up with changes in the customer service industry.
Much like training, live coaching is a great way to help your employees develop their skills. One thing that agents may find uncomfortable about QA is that some methods are done after the call has already taken place through monitoring recorded interactions. Not only does this not help the customer at the moment, but it can feel to some employees like you allowed them to fail.
Live coaching, one on one explanation during a call, helps guide agents toward best practices and feels less like criticism.
Who doesn’t hope to earn some recognition or reward for their hard work? An incentive plan, whether it is separate or a part of your compensation structure, is a good way to motivate your agents to perform well. This doesn’t have to be anything crazy - small gift cards, company swag, or even some sort of token or certificate that can be displayed offer a way to recognize your employees and highlight their accomplishments. Give them something to show off, and they will work hard to earn it.
Give them confidence
Agents will absolutely feel better going into a customer service experience if they are well-prepared. Of course, this needs to begin on day one with training and other onboarding activities. But nothing can keep their confidence up like a script.
Sure, interactions with customers will go off script a lot of the time. Well trained employees will know how to get the customer back into the script and/or assist with their unique problems. This all starts with a base script, of which your agents can learn to build new conversations and find solutions more easily.
Give group feedback
It can be difficult to take face-to-face criticism as an individual. Sometimes, this needs to be done anyway, as employees need to know what they are doing incorrectly.
But a good approach for giving general feedback is to address a group or team as a whole. When you do this, you need to be sure that you are not singling out any one agent in front of their team. Focus on team accomplishments and metrics. Let them know how they are doing in the customer’s eyes and what you see as inconsistencies in their work without using names. But most importantly, praise the group and offer ways for them to grow. Speaking to the whole team can minimize the blow of criticism and give you the opportunity to address concerns in a way that can make all parties aware of areas for improvement.
Invest in a software that can give you metrics on your staff’s performance like PlayVox. Track call lengths and department transfers and any other metric you can think of.
The more information you have about your team, the better you can guide them toward effective customer service interactions.
Set up a software dashboard so you can get quick looks at the numbers that are most important to you on a daily basis. Integrate metrics from all of your channels and set up a customer review survey or process. Always be learning about your team and everything they do.
Your employees may mostly dislike criticism, but if there is something in it for them, they will be more receptive to it. That is not to say that you HAVE to offer incentives for good behavior - after all, performing your job effectively is something that is simply expected from any employee at any company in any industry. Many agents will jump at material rewards for their work that go beyond their wages, but sometimes the opportunity to grow and learn will be enough for the rest.
Whether your QA efforts are a one-man show or you have a specialist in house to lead the initiative, you have to make sure it is being done in a way that does not alienate or insult your employees. In truth, poor QA practices, ones that overly criticize agents and discourage them, only serve to reduce the quality of your customer service offerings. Keep close tabs on what your staff is doing right and wrong, but make sure you are delivering that information to them in a thoughtful way to avoid a decline in department morale.