October 12th, 2021

Quality Assurance – how should you approach it in your contact center?

Quality assurance can be an unmanageable time-consuming task in contact centers. We give some tips and tools on how you can turn it into a vital asset.

Quality assurance can be an unmanageable time-consuming task if you don't know where to begin or end. But by choosing the right approach, you can turn it into a vital asset. We give you some tips and tools on how to improve your QA processes.

Quality assurance introduction

Over time it has become more advanced to do quality assurance in call centers. New tools and methods have been developed, and requirements have changed over time.

The emerging need for quality assurance in call centers is mainly driven by new legislation, intense competition, and new marketing approaches, influencing how we structure our workflows and internal processes.

If you want to stay on the right side of the law, live up to high standards, keep up with performance and deliver high-end customer service, quality assurance is one of the most important things you need to focus on. In other words, don't underestimate the outcome of a fine-tuned quality assurance setup if you want to increase your sales or give a better customer experience.

Tools and methods for quality assurance are rapidly developing to meet the demanding needs of new legislation and changing markets. Also, the increasing access to data opens new ways of checking up on the quality of your work and enhancing your efforts.

In this blog post, we take a holistic approach to quality assurance. The basis of this approach is our experience from speaking with our customers and our own experiences working with quality assurance  within our organization to ensure high standards in customer support and well-balanced expectation alignment with potential customers.

The holistic approach

An organization is dynamic – and there is no such thing as a "one size fits all" solution if you don't want to compromise with quality.

In Adversus, we constantly work to improve our methods for quality assurance. What is needed today might not be a priority a few months from now. We are not saying we change our procedures every day, but adjusting and adapting our internal quality assurance to our systems, data, and the people working here has become a continuous effort.

We also experience that quality assurance varies a lot from one contact center to another. How quality assurance is prioritized and executed depends on many factors, such as the number of agents, organization structure, revenue, available data, resources, daily routines, and much more. A contact center with plus 100 agents undeniably differs from a small agency with just a handful of employees.

Amongst our customers, we see everything from well-structured and semi-automated quality assurance procedures to customers who settle for tapping into random conversations and giving feedback to the agents without utilizing the full potential of having a straightforward  setup or a strategy.

It is a common misunderstanding that quality assurance is tapping into conversations and providing feedback to the agents when needed. The benefits from this approach can, roughly, be narrowed down to simple damage control.

Sustainable QA requires a look at the whole sales process and a close look at all data available to find out where and how you can enhance the performance in the process. Also, you need to think of QA as an iterative process that requires an ongoing effort. And the more you standardize this process, the easier it gets to follow it and adjust whenever needed.

Quality starts before calling

Having complete control of your customer journey and ensuring your leads are appropriately qualified before calling is just as important as following up on agents' behavior.

Duplicate check and checking your leads up against blacklists is the first step to ensure that you do not call the wrong people and maintain your effort's quality.

Getting automatic lead data updates directly in your dialer to have updated information on your customers or potential customers is a good way of heightening the quality – especially if you are calling B2B.

Having the correct data has a significant impact on your hit rate and the number of successes. You can keep your agents from making mistakes and give a much better customer experience by having updated data.  

Ongoing versus scheduled quality assurance

Predominantly there are two approaches to quality assurance.. 

The ongoing and more or less randomized quality checks you do whenever there is a need to give instant feedback or a quick follow-up on a specific problem.

And then, there is the structured approach where you design a holistic flow containing all aspects of the sales process. This approach includes the whole process from collecting and processing your data, analyzing it to adjust and evaluate.

This process is ongoing and requires that you start all over when you are finished. It also requires a steady cadence, a standardized approach so you can benchmark your efforts, and the right tools to ensure consistency.

Have a straightforward quality assurance process

There are many advantages to having clear standards and processes for your quality assurance. It makes it easier to measure your effort, benchmark, follow up and adjust.

For example, you can make an "at the end of the day check" every day to systematically check all your successes.

Also, make sure the standards for your evaluation forms match up with the manuscripts so it's possible to identify issues and ensure they are compliant, updated, and phrased the right way.

  •       Do a systematically check at a steady cadence
  •       Make sure your procedures are aligned
  •       Make it measurable
  •       Make checklists
  •       Invest in training regularly
  •       Adjust your manuscripts when needed

Read more about how to create good call center scripts 

Legislation and compliance

The legislation keeps changing to meet needs for customer protection, privacy protection, and so forth. Make sure you know the rules – and play by them.

Rules can be complicated, which is why you need to educate your agents on how to be compliant – e.g., how to ensure they provide consent from the prospect.

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Collect data 

Your quality assurance setup should include both quantifiable and qualifiable data.

Quantifiable data includes e.g.., average handling time, waiting time, hit rate, success rate, NPS score, and so forth – basically everything you can measure out in numbers and figures. 

The qualifiable data is characterized by a human factor and is, therefore, harder to measure. This data mainly consists of call recordings and written feedback from customers.

By gathering and working structured with both kinds of data, you can identify your issues and, thereby, better define your organization's best practices. But before you get started, you need to know, which data is essential, and limit how much data you need to audit.

 

Needs depend on many factors
  •       How big is your call center?
  •       How are you organized?
  •       Which kind of customers are you calling, e.g., B2B or B2C?
  •       Which legislative requirement do you need to live up to?  
  •       Which dialing methods are you using?
  •       How much quantitative data can you utilize in your QA setup?
  •       Which tools are available?

Measure calls

How many calls do you need to tap into before you've got enough knowledge to ensure the quality of the work done in your contact center? That's a question we often hear.

There is no simple answer to it because the answer depends on factors as mentioned above. But in general, the higher the number of samples you make, the more accurate it will get. On the other hand, it can be time-consuming to dig into too many conversations.

The more you understand your agents’ behavior, the easier it gets to set up your quality parameters and ensure your procedures.

Put your quality assurance on autopilot

A workaround is to automate or semi-automate your quality assurance by using different tools such as speech recognition or another tool that can identify which calls you should keep a closer eye on.

Keeping an eye on outliers – both high and low performers - can optimize your quality in calling.  

 

Get higher quality
  •       Make sure your manuscripts take compliance into account
  •       Make well structured and adherend checklists for your agents so they don't forget important information
  •       Invest in training and educating your agents
  •       Include your agents in the QA work
  •       Keep an eye on outliners  - both worst and best practice
  •       Adjust your qualitty assurance to fit the task – e.g., dialing method, type of customer, etc.
  •       Have clear procedures

Randomization vs. chosen samples

Randomized sampling can be helpful to get the most realistic picture of your agents’ methods and standards. But the more systematic approach where you keep an eye on your outliers can save you a lot of time.

You need to keep an eye on your worst performers so you can put an extra effort into training, coaching, and education. But don't forget your high-yield performers! They are the ones that are paving the way for good results – good behavior must always drive the results!

To pick your outliers, you need to set up quantifiable agent-specific KPIs and follow them closely. Handling time, the number of successes, and NPS are just some examples of things to measure.

Let the customers contribute

A net promoter score (NPS) can also be instrumental when you want to identify your outliers.

NPS is an effective way to measure, understand and act on your customers' experiences. Therefore, NPS has become a method used by many organizations to create better customer experiences, more loyal customers, and thereby increased sales.

By using NPS, you'll get a good impression of overall customer satisfaction. But remember that an NPS always is biased – the people taking the time to reply to an NPS are more commonly the very satisfied or dissatisfied customers – the ones in between tend not to respond so frequently. Not said that NPS can't give you quantitative and valuable data. Just remember, it will never give you a complete picture of how satisfied your customers really are.

Quality in conversation

A high number of successes is not necessarily equal to high-quality conversations. In most cases, there is a link between high performance and good quality. Still, we have unfortunately heard about too many instances in which the agents compromise with the level of information or don't uphold compliance standards to get a higher success rate.

It is essential to find those cases and end them simply because poor quality calls can lead to a higher churn, lower customer satisfaction, bad reviews, and compliance issues.

This is when you need to tap into conversations and listen to how your agents are behaving. Behavior such as the following can be helpful to keep in mind:

  •       Compliance
  •       Adherence
  •       Sales techniques
  •       Overall communication
  •       Tone of voice

Are your agents asking the right questions? Do they provide the prospect with all necessary information? Are they compliant? Do they oversell? Are they creating value for the customers?

 

Tips
  •   Do objective measures
  •   Use scorings
  •   Keep your QA constant and regular 

Which quality assurance tools should you use?

Never use a "one size fits all" tool solely!

Adjust your quality assurance process to the specific kinds of calling – outbound, inbound, etc. This is vital if you want a precise measure. Also, adapt your methods to the particular scenario. There's a difference between calling B2B, B2C, predictive, progressive, manual etc. Consider if you can reuse procedures across campaigns and customers, but remember to adjust.

It's time-consuming to dig through every case, so it can be helpful to emphasize your effort on high-yield and worst behavior.

  •   Manual digging through notes and recordings
  •   Speech recognition
  •   Monitoring and call recordings
  •   Choose a dialer solution with built-in QA – review each day
  •   Use independent call monitoring services
  •   External benchmarking

 

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Evaluate and educate

The primary purpose of the evaluation process is to identify lacks and fill in the gaps. There are many ways you can approach this part of the process but ALWAYS include your agents.

Involving your agents in identifying your contact center pains, you'll know where to focus. Remember, they have the experience and understand the issues first hand.

Balance your feedback

There are many ways to give feedback; one to one, remotely, and group feedback. Either way, it's essential to balance your quality assurance against coaching and feedback. There will always be a need for improvements, but the coaching and feedback have to be done in a way so that your agents still have the opportunity to adapt their methods to the required standards.

Let the agents reflect upon themselves.

By letting your agents make their own conclusions instead of telling them what went wrong, you'll discover that they know the answer upfront in most cases. Allowing your agents to evaluate their effort and reflect gives ownership.

Monitoring should not be intimidating or perceived as control of your agents – it's vital to have a culture where monitoring is a natural part of the work process and works as a helping hand. Make the monitoring visible and have open communication about your procedures so your agents feel comfortable with someone tapping into their conversations.

Give ownership

Create a forum for feedback, tutorials, best practices, etc. It's a good starting point when you want to create a consensus and culture about best practices. Let your agents contribute to the setup of the forum.

It can be an advantage to focus on one thing at a time when improving your agents' skills. Choose one topic at a time, e.g., intonation, how to handle objections, how to close a deal, and work intensively to improve performance on that.

 

Tips
  •   Include your agents when you create or update checklists and manuscripts.
  •   Have a meeting during the shift where you discuss issues
  •   Listen to recordings together and give each other feedback.
  •   Make a bank with your best calls and use them in your training
  • Include external stakeholders in the evaluation process to get a second opinion

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