Published: May 20, 2011 | Comments
The voice of the customer can inform so many performance measures in the contact center, from quality monitoring to metrics like first-call resolution. Listening can help you understand causes for repeat calls and identify additional training and coaching effectiveness and opportunities that will improve performance on customer satisfaction metrics.
Here, we look at some of the ways VOC is being incorporated today into the quality equation.
Add the Customer’s Voice to the Call Center's Quality Equation
How can you control – or positively influence – the customer experience when you don’t know the customer’s side of the story? The truth is that the customer’s perspective and opinions are typically left out of the quality equation.
Consider the typical quality monitoring approach: quality assurance (QA) personnel listen to and rate calls – scoring agents on two major components: 1) how well they comply with the company’s policies and procedures (as well as the accuracy of information provided); and 2) how courteous, helpful and professional the agent was during the interaction.
Now, take a closer look at the second component – it’s missing the customer’s input on agent behaviors.
Following this traditional monitoring approach, centers provide agents with coaching and feedback that doesn’t always gel with actual customer expectations and preferences, yielding a mediocre customer satisfaction ratings – despite the center’s heavy investment in quality monitoring resources.
Incorporating VOC into QA programs via post-contact transactional surveys (less costly and less biased than phone surveys and likely more accurately remembered than information from mail surveys) can deliver ROI on quality monitoring resources investments.
Call centers that are incorporating the customer’s voice – acting as a listening post for both the center and the total organization – are seeing returns in greater satisfaction scores.
Use internal quality monitoring methods to measure compliance only.
In leading centers, once a customer survey is complete, the numeric scores as well as any verbatim comments from the customer are sent to a QA specialist in the contact center, who then accesses the recorded call* (or email/chat transcript) in question and, with monitoring form in hand, scores the agent solely on the compulsory compliance issues – how they handled the objective, non-negotiable requirements of the interaction.
Examples include whether or not the agent used the proper greeting and closing (and followed other key script components; adhered to company- or industry-defined privacy/security policies; imparted correct/accurate information. In centers whose call monitoring system “records” screen activity, QA staff can also evaluate how effectively agents filled in data and moved in and out of appropriate screens.
For phone interactions, finding the call in question is made easy by today’s quality monitoring systems, most of which have a customer survey feature that links completed surveys to recorded calls.
The monitoring forms used by QA staff are generally concise and straightforward, with a simple “yes” or “no” option for most of the criteria. For example, “Did the agent use the customer’s name during the call greeting?”
By taking this compliance approach to monitoring, and having the call recording or text transcript on hand for agents to hear/read, the call center greatly reduces the problem of agents refuting or rejecting how a QA specialist scored them on a contact – a common occurrence in many centers.
But the real performance impact comes when the customer scores and feedback are factored in and shared with the agent, which brings us to how customer ratings and comments are incorporated into agent monitoring scores and feedback.
Incorporate Customer Ratings and Comments into Agent Monitoring and Feedback
After completing the compliance evaluation for the agent, the center’s QA specialist determines the agent’s overall quality score by combining the compliance score with the customer rating from the survey, taking any weighting issues into consideration.
At contact centers with a VOC-based QA initiative, once the QA person determines the overall quality score, they send it – along with the customer survey results, the compliance score sheet and the call recording (or text transcript) – to the agent’s supervisor or team leader, whoever typically provides coaching. The QA person might highlight any notable results, whether positive or negative, that he or she feels the supervisor should focus on. The supervisor then schedules a feedback session with the agent in question to go over the results and provide any necessary coaching, as well as deserved praise.
Ask any manager or supervisor in call center that has adopted a VOC-based QA initiative, and they’ll tell you that their agents are much more motivated by direct customer feedback than they are by supervisor/team lead feedback.
This feedback resonates with agents. And it doesn’t just benefit the agent who handled the contact: Most centers use such feedback (along with the recording/transcript) as a coaching and training tool for other agents. For example, if an agent has an exemplary call, the center may use the call recording along with the positive customer rating and feedback to demonstrate to trainees not only what great service “looks” like, but also how it impacts the customer experience.
Involve Agents in the Management of the Process
To further ensure the success of their VOC-based QA programs, top centers actively involve agents in the implementation of maintenance of the initiative. Moving from a traditional quality monitoring program to a VOC-based one represents a big shift, so it’s critical to get agents’ input and support early on. Explain the objective of the program clearly, and reinforce it with regular exposure call listening sessions with agents and sharing the customer survey results with the agents so they can see how customers rated the calls. This helps agents to see how their service impacts the customer, and what drives a ‘top box’ score.
Many call centers back away from a true VOC-based QA initiative because it involves transferring a lot of control from the contact center over to the customer – it’s a big undertaking with many unknowns. But putting the voice of the customer into the equation will save time, investment and even headache down the road.