Published: June 25, 2013 | Comments
This is an exciting time of change for contact centers, as their contributions become increasingly strategic. Many have evolved into the engines organizations depend on not only to handle interactions with customers but also to listen to and engage in external communities. They are taking on more of a "level two" role, handling issues not resolved through self-service and communities. And, in what is a common theme, they are integrating with other business functions at a much deeper level, enabling the organization to better understand and improve products, services and processes.
When harnessed effectively, they are bringing order to what would otherwise be an enormous, asymmetrical challenge in serving customers. But to realize their potential, contact centers’ internal monitoring and coaching efforts must keep pace—and be geared towards cross-functional purposes. Organizations that produce the best results share some common characteristics:
They Align Quality Monitoring with Key Business Objectives. There's a common understanding within the organization that the contact center has a larger mission than just handling customer interactions well. So it makes sense that effective quality monitoring programs — whether they employ low-tech listening, recordings or high-tech call analytics — are expected and designed to do much more than assist with individual training and development. They also focus on leveraging the knowledge gathered from contacts into better systems, processes and services across the organization. In short, the most effective centers identify issues that are beyond the center's jurisdiction but need to be fixed.
They Incorporate Quality Criteria that Support Broad Improvements. These commonly include capturing needed and useful information; detecting and documenting unsolicited marketplace feedback; assessing whether contacts could have been prevented; and encouraging and noting customer insight that helps design better products and services. (They recognize that many aspects of accomplishing these objectives are not within the direct control of those handling interactions and must be addressed across the organization; but they have to be identified at the point of contact.)
They Correlate Monitoring to Other Key Results. For example, how do monitoring results compare to customer satisfaction, social sentiment and trending, employee satisfaction, service levels, revenues and costs? Are there correlations and how strong are they? Better understanding the interrelated nature of the organization's mission, contact center results, and day-by-day, contact-by-contact activities will lead to improvements and innovations of the highest order.
They Regularly Calibrate for Fairness and Consistency. Does your monitoring program reflect, in a consistent and unbiased way, what is really happening? To quickly find out, conduct a simple experiment. Have those who do the evaluations independently score 5 to 10 recorded interactions. Then, compare the results. If the scores are significantly different, take the system back to the shop for a tune-up or overhaul. Until you do, you'll be getting mixed results and wasting time and effort. Or worse, you'll be alienating agents who don't trust the results and who aren't getting the recognition and help they need.
They Involve Agents in Root Cause Analysis. It's become a recognized (and true!) tenet of the quality movement that those closest to the work know and understand it best. Your agents are in an ideal position to help define what constitutes a quality experience for customers, and how processes, training, systems and interdepartmental coordination can be improved. And agent involvement encourages ownership and engagement, and pays off handsomely in job satisfaction.
Chances are your contact center has made significant investments in quality monitoring. You have probably spent hundreds of combined hours and tens of thousands of dollars developing monitoring criteria and forms, investigating legal requirements, and orienting agents and supervisors to the program. And it's likely that monitoring and related coaching activities take more combined time than any other activity beyond handling the customer workload.
Are you getting the payoff you should from these efforts? With an eye on larger potential, any organization can better leverage this input to improve performance and value.
Please drop me a note with your stories, comments, feedback… I’d love to hear from you.
Senior Advisor, ICMI