Let’s take a moment to reflect on the term ‘quality assurance.’
Quality: a degree of excellence as measured against other similar things
Assurance: Confidence or certainty
So what does quality assurance mean in a call center? It means being confident or certain that your call center is achieving excellence. As a call center manager, quality assurance is the axis around which all your call center operations should revolve. If happy customers and a productive workplace are your priorities, then top-notch quality assurance is a must. Here are some quality assurance guidelines for call center managers to ensure measurable excellence.
Begin with the end in mind
There are many different ways to measure call center performance, not to mention individual agent performance. The call center industry is chock-full of acronyms for different metrics: KPI, AHT, FCR, to name just a few.
Chasing down anything and everything that can be measured will leave you, your agents, and your QA team adrift in a sea of data, rudderless and unable to navigate this information in any purposeful direction.
Before you decide what to measure, you need to know why you’re measuring.
- What are your top goals for customer service?
- What areas of call center operations are ripe for improvement?
Answering these questions first will help you to focus your QA efforts, making sure you have an idea of where you want to end up before you begin.
Make sure your metrics are actionable
No one likes being told what they’re doing wrong without having the power and direction to improve. QA is not just about monitoring and measuring; it should also be about coaching and improvement.
If, for example, average handling time (AHT) is a weakness in your call center, you as manager should work with the QA team to monitor this metric and develop training modules or systemic changes that target this particular area. Chief among quality assurance guidelines for call center managers should be to ensure actionable metrics. Data is nothing without action.
Monitor more than just calls for quality
The digital landscape is evolving. Customers no longer rely principally on the phone for contacting customer service representatives. Make sure your QA team is also monitoring your agents’ email, live chat, and SMS interactions with customers.
Be sure to have guidelines and procedures in place for agents operating on these channels. If this is a blind spot in your QA system, it’s time to shed some light on digital customer interactions to ensure high quality customer care on all fronts.
Like it or not, big brother is (or should be) watching
“This call may be monitored for quality and training purposes” is a phrase that your agents and customers should be familiar with. Recording calls and regularly reviewing them for predetermined qualities should be a major function of your call center quality assurance team. Make sure your QA team has a well-developed scorecard to measure the features of these recordings, rather than just listening and judging aimlessly.
Make QA efforts ongoing rather than merely periodic
Quality assurance is only as effective as it is consistent. Make sure your QA system operates on an ongoing basis. Software such as Playvox can help you to manage your metrics on a real-time basis that is visible to agents and management, facilitating measurement and improvement that is as steady as your callstream.
Not sure how to fit coaching into your day-to-day schedule? Use the call volume data collected by your CRM system to determine reliable off-peak times in your center, and use this time for full-group, small-group, or one-on-one coaching sessions. Your agents will appreciate the feedback.
Use a combination of in-house and third-party QA
Having your own internal QA team can save money and increase buy-in from your agents, especially if the team has established a proven track record of being fair and trustworthy.
An in-house QA team can change or re-calibrate various metrics at no additional cost to your call center. Consulting a third-party QA specialist, however, is also essential. An outside consultant can provide you with unbiased, reliable, standardized information about your call center’s performance.
Plus, QA consultants possess specialized training and knowledge that you may not be able to match using solely an in-house team.
Compare to other call centers
Benchmarking your own data against the data of other call centers can give you insight as to how your agents measure up to industry norms. Some QA consultants provide benchmarking services, or you can use your own networking skills to establish benchmarking partners around the industry. Attending seminars or conventions for call center managers can provide such networking opportunities.
Be sure you have an idea of what features you wish to compare.
- What metrics are other call centers measuring?
- What do their QA processes look like?
- What are their quality assurance guidelines for call center managers?
Get agents involved in developing quality assurance guidelines for the call center
Agents will be more engaged in a QA system that they helped to develop. Involve agents in decisions such a goal-setting or scorecard development. Consider allowing agents to choose their own calls to be reviewed by QA; this removes the uncomfortable ‘gotcha’ factor and can even make call selection more efficient (agents can choose their best and worst call from the month to be reviewed).
Ensuring excellence is at the heart of quality assurance, and managers are instrumental to how QA is conducted. Making QA a high priority in your call center will mean a workplace that operates at peak productivity and customers who are highly satisfied.