What Is Quality Assurance In A Call Center And What Does It Mean?

Customer Experience

Anyone who has ever made a call to a customer service contact center has heard this recording: “this call may be recorded or monitored, for quality and training purposes.”

It’s easy enough to simply ignore this and carry on with your call, but has it ever given you pause for thought? How would a recording of your interaction with a customer service agent be used and what does quality in a call center mean?

Most importantly, how do managers use it to train their agents and improve the quality of service customers receive?

Let’s take a closer look.

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What is quality in a call center?

Quality call monitoring is an essential factor in running a successful call center. Managers and Quality Assurance (AQ) specialists have a responsibility to keep an eye on call center operations, to ensure each and every customer receives a consistently positive experience.

On top of maintaining quality in a call center and consistency in the customer experience, the quality department can keep costs low by managing their agents’ efficiency.

Receiving poor service from a call center can be enough to chase customers away, even if this only happens once. No manager can afford to be complacent and overlook the quality of interactions their agents offer; all customers have to be treated with equal importance.

 

More than a machine

You can use a call system to gather a wealth of helpful data on customers’ interactions, such as average handling time (AHT), hold times, call volume and more. This helps you analyze the basic service factors that have a major impact on customer experience, but you need more for the best results.

A trained human ear is required to delve into agent-customer interactions to ensure that the most important qualities (courtesy, positivity, professionalism) are inherent in all conversations. This is where monitoring quality in a call center and scorecards come into play.

 

Getting a third-party perspective

While some companies operate an internal team to continuously monitor call quality and adherence to standards, a third party can also be used to ensure consistent results. Bringing quality assurance specialists into the process means you receive input from people with focused skill sets that may be unavailable to workers within the call center.

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They will be able to analyze customer interactions and identify areas that need work, including those that may go undetected by even the best agents. You can receive invaluable help by incorporating a third-party monitoring system into your everyday operations, to ensure reports and recommendations remain fair and unbiased.

With PlayVox QA software, managers in call centers will have access to key tools and features with which to explore agents’ performance. This gives you the data to make decisions that improve your center’s efficiency in several ways.

 

What does quality monitoring involve?

There’s more to effectively monitoring quality in a call center than listening in to pick up on problems: this is about consistent focus on customer satisfaction by agents who are skilled in their work.

It’s about training and refocusing agents, offering the enhanced skills they need to best deliver the service your customers need and managers expect. How is this done?

 

Monitoring calls to ensure uniform customer service

Research and development allow call centers to determine what it is their customers actually want and need. A company’s quality of service and support is part of its identity: a brand’s reputation can influence other customers’ decision to buy from them or not.

Poor customer experiences are enough to prompt them to write reviews and negative posts across social media. A simple complaint about how they have been treated may be enough to leave their friends or colleagues willing to go elsewhere. Before you know it, one bad interaction can cost you any number of prospects.

 

Related: Using Social Media For Customer Support And Meet Customer Expectations

 

The entire service quality in a call center should be uniform and consistent. Customers should know the caliber of experience they will receive when they pick up the phone.

This means that certain types of greetings, positive phrases and call structures should be incorporated into every call to make sure a uniform customer service is delivered. A quality department can ensure the necessary factors are present in calls, and ongoing monitoring is key to this.

 

Ensure agents meet compliance guidelines

Call centers are required to follow specific rules to protect their customers, and the Federal Trade Commission has numerous criteria to which centers must adhere.

These include:

Consenting to call monitoring:

The law dictates that at least one person in a conversation is aware that they are being recorded and agrees to it. In some states, all parties involved has to be informed.

DNC (Do Not Call) registry:

This regulation offers customers a way to opt out of all telemarketing calls by registering their number with an online database. Any call centers that fail to stick to this can be fined.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS):

This has been enforced since 2006 and provides call centers with a set of standards to follow if they wish to process credit card payments.

Truth in Lending Act:

This act stipulates that call centers inform customers about interest rates, terms, late fees and anything else that affects them in relation to loans.

If any of these are relevant to your call center, it is vital that your agents receive the training they need to follow them. 

 

Staying informed of which call centers are and are not following the rules they should is obviously difficult, but all managers must ensure that systems are in place to avoid any lapse in standards. It only takes on misstep for customers to feel they have been mistreated.

In any such case, said customer could contact the regulators and make them aware of oversights. This would lead to the aforementioned fines and leave the company in question’s reputation affected for the foreseeable future.

Monitoring quality in call centers enables managers to identify cases in which agents fail to provide customers with the information or support required, or show signs of almost doing so. In this case, the QA system would enable call centers to avoid potentially damaging mistakes.

 

Work with managers and agents to develop scorecards

PlayVox QA software enables call centers to build bespoke scorecards to increase and maintain a high quality of service, based on specific factors. A scorecard is used to determine the effectiveness of an agent’s performance based on measurable benchmarks.

Agents themselves can work to develop benchmarks in collaboration with managers and QA specialists. It’s vital that agents understand what will be included in the scorecard and why adhering to them matters. Having a quality department in your call center develop these scorecards can help to make sure all the most important aspects that contribute to a customer’s experience are covered.

By checking scorecards along with listening to interactions, managers and the QA team can ascertain how accurately a customer’s needs and expectations are met. They can be changed and refined over time, to accommodate any alterations in company practise or customer needs.

 

Developing feedback and action plans

Analysis of customer interactions through call monitoring and scorecards should be used to improve service through constructive feedback.

Feedback should be provided to agents in a reasonable, positive manner to improve quality in a call center. Rather than simply showing them where they are going wrong and criticizing them for it, work with agents to find how they can grow as required.

This could vary from their style of greeting customers to the way in which they handle complaints, but if they are delivering sub-par service, they’re letting more than the customer down: they’re affecting the entire company’s performance and reputation.

PlayVox provides managers with the ability to deliver feedback through personalized and targeted coaching sessions to ensure agents have the direction required to provide a higher level of service for every customer.

Feedback based on scorecards and call monitoring can play a pivotal role in enhancing the performance of your entire team of agents. Being able to speak with a manager or QA specialist about where they’re going wrong can play a consistent role in developing. When you work with the public and serve customers in any capacity, it’s normal to make mistakes when dealing with people.

However, learning to recognize your faults and taking the steps advised to correct them will only help to make those mistakes rarer and rarer. With PlayVox, integrating feedback into your everyday operations and training programmes is easier than ever.

So, what is quality in a call center? As we’ve discussed, successful quality monitoring in your call center is far, far more than simply watching over agents like some kind of omnipresent overlord. It’s not about just identifying issues and giving staff a telling-off with vague instructions to ‘do better’: it’s about using hard data and evidence to improve the overall customer experience.

Call monitoring, assessing scorecards and delivering feedback can transform the performance of your agents. However, there has to be a culture of cooperation and trust: your workforce must recognize that all recording is performed to build a better call center. When it becomes a collaborative process, it’s a lot easier to find ways forward and develop action plans that suit each agent at a personal and professional level.

 

While it’s simple for a call center to fall into bad habits and routines, taking steps to change things for the better can turn your call center’s performance around. Investing in cutting-edge QA software is vital to build quality in a call center and achieve a productive, successful workforce. 

Jade Longelin Jade Longelin

Jade Longelin is a digital marketing specialist. When she's not working with PlayVox or her own projects, she's either traveling or spending time with her dog.

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