As per a survey, 97% of consumers in the US believe that customer service plays a crucial role in retaining their loyalty.
Providing lousy service to your customer is enough to chase them away, even if it occurred only once.
As a call center leader, you can’t afford to overlook the quality of interactions your agents are offering.
In other words, how your agents treat your customers and handle interactions will determine your business success.
Customers today have high expectations of resolving their issues in the first call itself. While aiming for quick customer service, you also need to maintain the quality within the calls.
This is where call center quality assurance comes into the picture.
In this guide, you’ll find:
- Meaning and Importance of call center quality assurance
- Difference between QC and QA
- Different methods of QA
- Best practices you need to follow in 2023
- How calls are assessed?
- Contact center quality assurance Benefits
A. What is quality assurance in a call center/contact center?
Quality assurance in a call center is the process that ensures the quality of your customer interactions is aligned with your business goals.
It is the method of monitoring and analyzing your agent conversations with respect to customer’s expectations and requirements.
Quality assurance is a process that consists of call monitoring, evaluation and agent coaching with an objective to improve the quality of customer conversations. Enthu.AI is a software that does all at one place.
Wanna know how Enthu.AI help you track the call quality with minimum effort?
B. Quality Control vs Quality Assurance
- Meaning: The process of checking and verifying that a product or service meets the required quality standards before it is released to the customer.
- Responsibilities: Inspection, testing, and corrective action.
- Role: Operational, focused on the end product.
- Definition: The process of planning, monitoring and evaluating the production processes to ensure that the final product meets the required quality standards.
- Responsibilities: Process design, process monitoring, and process improvement.
- Role: Strategic, focused on the entire production process.
C. 7 reasons why quality is important for a call center?
The process of QA is designed to help you enhance the quality of your customer facing team.
Its ultimate aim is to increase the overall efficiency of the contact center and reduce wasteful spending.
It is rightful foundation of all call centers, which allows you to stand out from your competitors.
If you are still not convinced, here are the benefits of ensuring QA within your contact center.
1. Boosts customer experience
The process of analyzing data to gather actionable insights is a typical roadmap to customer success.
When customer service is seamless and all their issues are resolved quickly, it results in high customer satisfaction and creates a long-lasting impression on your their mind.
Quality process is there to ensure that the call center maintains a consistent service level throughout the customer journey.
2. Maintain call quality standards
The contact center is an important touchpoint for your customers in most businesses. The behavior of your call center agents can influence relationships with your customers.
Many people judge a business by the way their agents interact with them.
Quality monitoring practices ensure that agents learn the best approach to solve important queries, handle difficult customers, and acknowledge feedback.
The entire process is standardized to maintain consistency of the tone while addressing the customers.
3. Reinforce customer retention
A 10% increase in customer retention can improve profits by 25-30%.
Customer support quality is directly tied to your customer loyalty. If you want to retain your customers, you need to provide them a seamless experience.
In fact, it costs five times as much and is 10 times more difficult in attracting new customers compared to retaining an old one.
Thus, call centers ensure that quality is maintained and delivered to the customers so that they don’t switch to your competitors.
QA puts customers’ needs on the highest priority list, thereby gaining customer loyalty.
4. Adhering to compliance
There are certain guidelines that every call center needs to follow while handling customer interactions.
Failing to adhere to the laws set by the government, such as data protection compliance, can result in a hefty fine. These laws are set by the government to ensure customer privacy and security.
As a part of QA, call monitoring ensures that agents are maintaining strict compliance standards while making sure that all data is secure.
5. Better call center QA metrics
Measuring call center metrics is an essential aspect of call center quality assurance. It helps measure customer experience and the overall performance of a contact center.
However, a call center manager should know which metric is going to grant actionable insights. QA metrics are there to help you determine the center’s productivity over time.
Some of the most common and vital metrics are average handle time, customer satisfaction level, listen to talk ratio, first call resolution etc.
6. Help to clarify company values and goals
The QA process helps you determine your department’s goals and values.
Without this clear objective in mind, agents may have difficulty in understanding and providing an excellent experience to its customers.
While defining QA standards, there are specific questions that need to be answered.
How will you define customer experience? What is the main purpose of your customer service department?
How will you define customer experience?
What is the main purpose of your customer service department?
This will help your call reps understand what the brand stands for and the quality of work expected of them.
7. Identify shortcomings in customer service
Another reason why call center QA is important because it helps identify any flaws in your customer service.
Monitoring 100% of your conversations help pinpoint areas where your agents are lacking, and with proper agent coaching, you can train them to address their shortcomings.
If your customers aren’t happy with your service, they may not think twice before searching for another reliable company.
D. 5 Methods of quality assurance
1. Statistical Process Control (SPC)
This method involves collecting data on the production process and using statistical analysis to monitor and control the process.
This helps identify and prevent issues before they occur and ensures that the final product meets the required quality standards.
2. Total Quality Management (TQM)
TQM is a comprehensive approach to quality that involves all employees in the organization in the quest for continuous improvement.
It emphasizes the need for a customer-focused culture and the use of data and analysis to drive decision-making and improvement.
3. Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
This method is used to identify the underlying cause of a problem in the production process.
RCA involves collecting data, analyzing the problem, and identifying the root cause so that appropriate action can be taken to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.
4. Inspection and testing
Inspection and testing are key elements of quality control.
They involve physically examining the product to ensure that it meets the required quality standards, and conducting tests to verify that the product performs as intended.
5. Continuous improvement
Continuous improvement is a proactive approach to quality that involves regularly evaluating and improving the production process to ensure that it consistently produces high-quality products.
This can involve using tools such as Lean Six Sigma or Kaizen to identify areas for improvement and make changes that increase efficiency and reduce defects.
E. Top 16 call center quality assurance best practices
Let’s look at some of the best practices that can help you deliver the best-in-class service.
1. Recruitment and selection error
At the onset, recruitment and selection of agents may not seem like the responsibility of the quality assurance team.
But it is highly crucial that you hire the right and appropriate profile for the type of service they will provide.
Quality team can work in line with the HR team to help them understand what kind of candidate would be the best fit for the work profile.
2. Provide early and regular training
One major mistake most call centers make is that they end up putting their new hires to work even without giving them proper training.
Indeed, companies are always swamped with work, facing tight deadlines. But putting employees into operations without even showing them around how things work will only further create more problems.
The best approach is to train agents on your customer service expectations and how to exceed them.
Only then should they be allowed to interact with customers independently.
Speech analytics is a very good way to identify training opportunities which otherwise go unnoticed.
3. Involve agents in the development of the quality program
The concept of quality can have a negative connotation for agents. To remove the perception of call center quality as punitive, you must include everyone in the development of the QA program.
Agents should work alongside quality specialists to develop benchmarks for their performance level.
This is crucial because it will help agents understand what is included in the scorecard and why adhering to them is important.
4. Providing feedback to agents
Providing regular feedback to agents plays a crucial role in shaping your employees’ performance and motivating them.
While evaluating, make sure to jot down specific notes and be as detailed as possible. It will help them understand where to improve precisely. But don’t just pinpoint out their negative points.
Make sure that while giving them feedback, you appreciate them for their good work too. Also, you should give them pointers for coaching and training so that they can improve.
5. Have a quality assurance scorecard
Without a well-designed scorecard, all your efforts to ensure quality will go waste.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while creating a QA scorecard–
- Evaluate the performance by concept, i.e., excellent, good, regular, and bad. This will help you separate the best agents from average; and coach the average ones through proper training.
- Assign different weight numbers to different items in the list. The idea here is that the item with more weight will have more importance while measuring the quality of the operation.
6. Ensure problem resolution
The process of quality is also responsible for ensuring a high problem resolution rate.
Not only should the agents be made accountable to resolve an issue, they should be given authority & training to take the steps that help the customer.
7. Agent engagement is a must during quality evaluation process
Agents must have a clear knowledge of all the metrics that are being evaluated.
Set a realistic target for evaluation to ensure quality monitoring and assessment. They should be aware of what a quality interaction constitutes.
Ask them about the difficulties they are facing and provide them regular feedback to help them improve.
8. Think like a customer
When creating your quality evaluation forms, the best approach is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think like them.
This will help you understand things like — why do customers call, what is the first thing they look for while calling, how they think, and other things.
Identifying these topics will help you list items on your scorecard to evaluate, and you can assign appropriate weights to each item.
Most important is to empathize with your customers; don’t consider them as crying babies. Instead, understand that they have a genuine problem which is impacting them, and your role is to solve it in the best possible way.
9. Agents must do self-evaluation
You should promote self-assessment in your call center. Allot a period of time each week where agents evaluate their own calls.
They will listen to the calls and analyze them based on customer satisfaction and service quality.
Self-assessment will help them identify their own mistakes and improve their communication skills.
10. Include all contact center supported channels in the quality program
A QA program should evaluate interactions with customers from all service channels, including email, social media, chats and others.
This is because a bad interaction on any channel can ruin your company’s reputation.
Call Centers: Global Strategic Business Report
Growth in the Outsourced segment is readjusted to a revised 6.3% CAGR for the next 7-year period.
11. Use gamification as positive reinforcement
Employ gamification to recognize and reward agents for a job done well. This will not only motivate agents but also promote engagement and loyalty.
This game mechanism adds a fun factor, and agents are motivated to achieve their organizational goals.
12. Allow for growth
Have a long-term strategy to allow employee growth within the company. This will help you retain the best talent in your company.
Design a career plan for your service team that will help them improve and grow as an individual.
13. Do not make your agents read a script
Scripts act as a guide for call center representatives as they interact with customers.
Adhering to the script ensures the quality of the call.
However, it is also important your agents are given the liberty to go-off script when the situation demands.
Otherwise, they might end up sounding like a robot.
14. Customer contact plan
Devise a contact plan for reaching out to your customers in specific cases e.g. when they leave a bad review.
You can talk to them to understand what went wrong and how you can improve it.
Or you can even make a post-purchase call to see if they are facing any difficulty and how you can help.
Always put your customers first if you want your business to succeed.
15. Think like an agent
While evaluating an agents’ performance, it’s important to put items on their list within the limit of their skill.
You don’t want an agent to solve a problem about which they don’t have any knowledge.
While giving them scores, you should see if your agents performed well or not regardless of your customer satisfaction level.
16. Focus on low-performance employees
Best agents are already well aware of the standard of the call center service program . That’s why divert more attention to low-performing employees — provide them with feedback and all necessary coaching and training to increase their quality.
There are various call center software present in the market, through which you can completely track their performance.
F. How is call quality assessed?
Call quality is typically assessed in call centers using the following methods:
1. Quality monitoring
This involves listening to recorded calls or live monitoring quality of calls to assess the quality of the call center agents’ interactions with customers. The calls are evaluated against established quality criteria, such as the agent’s tone of voice, the use of proper language, and the resolution of customer issues.
2. Customer feedback surveys
This involves sending surveys to customers after they have interacted with a call center agent.
The surveys ask customers to rate their experience and provide feedback on the quality of the interaction.
3. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are metrics used to measure the performance of the call center.
They can include metrics such as average call handling time, abandonment rate, and first-call resolution rate.
These metrics can be used to assess the overall quality of the call center’s service.
4. Call data analysis
This involves analyzing call data to identify trends and patterns in the call center’s performance.
The analysis can be used to identify areas of improvement and make changes that improve the quality of the call center’s service.
5. Scorecards and performance evaluations
Scorecards and performance evaluations are used to evaluate the performance of individual call center agents.
The scorecards provide a comprehensive overview of the agent’s performance and identify areas where they can improve.
By using a combination of these methods, call centers can effectively assess and improve the quality of their call center operations.
Anyways, Common quality assurance metrics include: Average Speed of Answering (ASA), First-Call Resolution (FCR), Average Handle Time (AHT), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Effort Score (CES).
G. 6 Benefits of quality assurance
1. Improved customer satisfaction
QA helps to monitor and evaluate the customer interactions and ensures that they meet the required standards, which leads to increased customer satisfaction.
2. Enhanced quality of service
Call centers quality assurance can identify areas of improvement in the customer service process and make necessary changes, leading to a higher quality of service.
3. Better employee performance
QA provides feedback to call center agents, which can be used to improve their performance and increase efficiency.
4. Improved compliance
QA helps call centers to comply with industry regulations and standards, reducing the risk of legal or financial penalties.
5. Increased productivity
By monitoring and analyzing call center processes, QA can identify areas of inefficiency and make improvements, leading to increased productivity.
6. Enhanced brand reputation
Consistent high-quality customer service contributes to a positive image and reputation for the brand.
Call center quality assurance continuously measures operational and organizational effectiveness.
Set up a quality scorecard that reflects your company’s values and goals.
However, not all companies have the same vision for their support, so make sure to craft a unique QA scorecard that aligns with your business objectives and goals.
How is quality assurance measured in a call center?
Call centers are monitored by numerous quality assurance metrics to ensure that customer needs are being met. Common quality assurance metrics include: Average Speed of Answering (ASA), First-Call Resolution (FCR), Average Handle Time (AHT), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Effort Score (CES).
How can I improve my call center performance?
Call center performance can improve by giving agents the training they need, and then continuously monitoring, evaluating and coaching them to perform better.
How can I improve my call monitoring?
Call monitoring can certainly be a chore but it can be improved by having the right call monitoring software like ENTHU.AI or you can opt for a traditional method of hiring a QA manager.
Tushar Jain is the CEO and Founder of Enthu.ai. In this free time he loves to read books.