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Call Centers Win with Quality Assurance

As we come off of our ACCE high here at ICMI, we look back at some of the stellar call center performance we saw in our 2011 Global Call Center of the Year Awards. In our latest QuickPoll, 28% of call centers said they do not have a formal Quality Assurance program with dedicated monitoring staff and analyst(s). Since we featured the Canadian Medical Protective Association's quality program in this week's Call Center Spotlight, I thought we could look at some of the great lessons in Quality Assurance that ICMI's seen over the years (and uncovered in our whitepaper Discover Why Contact Center Quality Doesn't Measure Up -- And What You Can Do About It):

  • Research shows that service level objectives, handling time goals, and call control processes must evolve within the context of sound quality improvement practices. Otherwise, they will backfire, leading to customer dissatisfaction and higher long-term costs. This is not to say that service level should be sacrificed, but it should be put into perspective as it relates to quality. Service level requirements should be set intelligently to ensure that they do not become root cause contributors to quality problems. Agents motivated by handle time objectives might rush to conclude a call and leave customers without the information they need (or at least perceiving that they were underserved or under-informed). They then may increase costs by calling back or contacting the center through another channel—or worse, at a higher level.
  • Internally focused metrics associated with meeting service levels or regulations are certainly important, but they cannot alone give an accurate picture of whether customers have been satisfied with their interactions, much less with their experience in using the organization’s products, services and business processes. Many organizations capture the voice of the customer only in ad hoc fashion from messages or other communication coming through one of the channels. Without a systematic approach, organizations could be blind to events occurring in their markets, such as problems with products and services or competitive developments that demand a time-sensitive response. Agents may be performing according to expected standards but the contact center is not delivering the desired result of customer satisfaction and better insight into changing customer preferences.
  • No organization wants to be perceived as unresponsive to the need for quality management: And so, they often find themselves in a vicious cycle of spending on quality monitoring applications and tools, experiencing disappointment in terms of little or no benefit in customer satisfaction, and then reluctantly choosing to spend more on tools. Oftentimes, quality monitoring is focused on compliance-related activities at the expense of strategic value activities. Rather than limit quality monitoring to a checklist of discrete measures analyzed without context, it is better to identify and manage a process that aligns metrics with strategic objectives. The process should include steps that inform the process about the customer experience. Applications and metrics can then help processes become cycles of improvement.

If you're working on your QA program and are going to be in the Washington, DC, area, meet up with ICMI-Certified associates Gina Szabo and Jean Bave-Kerwin and they'll lead you through the maze of effective QA in the courses Advancing Contact Center Quality Through Monitoring and Coaching and Essential Principles of People Management at the upcoming GSA-approved ICMI Symposium.