ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


6 Steps to Implementing a Contact Center Quality Program

(This article originally appeared on Greg's blog Contact Center Pro).

From a customer experience perspective, a quality interaction is everything. How many times have you spoken with a contact center agent and wondered if they understood what you really needed? Did they get your order correct? Were they even listening? While we've all had these experiences and agree that quality should be a focus of any contact center, it's not as easy as telling your agents do these ten things on the checklist.

Below are 6 critical steps needed to successfully implement a quality program that will impact customer experience.

1. Think About Customer Experience First - Habit number 2 from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey states, "to begin with the end in mind." We must think first about the kind of customer experience that we desired. What is the purpose of your contact center? Is it sales, customer service, help desk support or maybe a combination? What do customers hope to get when they contact you? Are they ordering a product or service? Do they need help with a product they already purchased? When we think about the types of reasons customers contact us and the reason our contact center exists, we can begin to understand what makes up a quality customer experience. Also, do not limit your quality program to phone calls. Your program should be multi-channel including all customer interactions; such as email, chat, and social media.

2. Agent Buy-in - When implementing a quality program it's important to have the buy in from those doing the job. Get your agents involved in deciding what quality looks like from the beginning of the process. Agents should have input in the development of scripting, what will be evaluated and the evaluation process. Form a task force comprised of a few agents, Supervisors, the Contact Center Manager, and the Training Manager. Agents participating will become an advocate for the program to the other agents. In addition, the agents participating in the task force will gain a better understanding of management’s expectations and other agents will feel like their voice is represented in the process.

3. Training - Don't assume that your agents understand and know how to incorporate all of the criteria in the new quality program. During the roll out process it's not only important to communicate what the new quality program looks like, but training should be given on all aspects of the quality criteria. During this time it's also important to communicate the expectations of a quality interaction as well as how and how often the agents will be evaluated.

4. Calibration - Once the quality criteria are agreed on, then you'll need to make sure that the evaluators are all on the same page. Anyone that will be performing evaluations (Supervisors, Mangers, Trainers and/or the quality team) should review and discuss customer interactions to ensure the evaluation process is standardized. It’s best to have the participants review several calls on their own and submit their evaluation sheets and comments before the meeting. This will prevent anyone from falling victim to peer pressure and changing their evaluation during the meeting only to not apply the same process later. During the calibration meeting everyone should listen to the calls and review their evaluation notes. The final outcome of this process should yield clear guidelines regarding the evaluation process.

5. Ongoing Training - The purpose of implementing a quality process is to ensure each customer has the same experience by standardizing the agent interaction. Those evaluating the agents will need to provide feedback and training on the steps they can improve on. If there are several agents needing training in the same areas, then it's usually best to involve training. Another good way to train and further gain agent buy-in is by implementing a mentor program. Have your best agents' mentor the ones that need help, often this will be new hires. The agent receiving the help will feel more comfortable with their peer and the mentor will themselves become more accountable with the quality process.

6. Recognition - Recognition is the lifeblood of contact centers. You can never provide too much recognition and rewards to keep your staff motivated and reinforce positive behavior. You'll need to design a recognition program around the quality process. Usually this can be done by recognizing the top performers in quality over a set period of time, like a month or quarter. Another fun way is spot recognition when you observe a great customer interaction. The recognition does not have to be monetary in value, however it should be public. A good way to publicly recognize quality is to email a file of the call if it's available and specifically state in the email the areas that agent did well and how it impacted customer experience. In addition to recognizing the great performance of the agent you’re also providing a good example for others to hear and implement.

While a new quality program will not prevent bad customer experiences from time to time, the goal is to minimize them. A quality program that's embraced by everyone involved is your first step in creating a better experience for your customers. These 6 steps in introducing a new quality program to your contact center will not only create a better customer experience, but will also create a better experience for everyone on your team.

Greg Bush is a call center executive with over fifteen years of industry experience. His background includes both sales and customer service. He is experienced in call center start-up and turnaround, driving revenue by placing a strong focus on best practices and innovative technology.