Quality's Not Dead

There is something lurking in your contact center that is, quite possibly, sucking the life out of every agent, supervisor, and manager.  It’s damaging your credibility with customers, restricting the reach of your coaching efforts, and undermining the mission, vision, and values of your organization.  Its effects are long-lasting; its design, woven throughout every agent’s daily routine; its ability to control the customer experience, unparalleled.

It’s your quality monitoring program and, for a majority of you, it’s a broken one.

I don’t blame you, so you shouldn’t either. At least up until today. I want to arm you with some food for thought on the seven steps that you can take to improve the impact and effectiveness of your QM program.  Disclaimer: This type of change doesn’t come easily and it isn’t (and shouldn’t be) something that will change overnight. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. Oh believe me, it’s worth.  It just means that you AND your team (more on who I’m referring to there) will have your work cut out for you. There is some good news in all of this too! What I’m about to share with you applies across any channel. Whether you’re measuring the quality of phone calls or emails, SMS or social media, you can follow these steps and be on the road to success

Here is a seven-step process to get you on your way:

Step 1: Identify the program purpose and its objectives.  Involve all members of your team in this step! From the frontline to the back office, the training team to the chief executive. If you’re not aligned here, your program will lack a solid foundation. The purpose of your program is the basis for its design.  Every person on your team should have an understanding of why your program is in place and the measurements used to assess its effectiveness in meeting those objectives.

Step 2: Give responsibility to the right people and hold them accountable for results. In each contact center this will look a bit differently but there are two universal truths:

  1. Increased agent involvement = increased acceptance and buy-in
  2. Cross-functional team cooperation is a key component to success

Step 3: Plan to monitor. What you monitor, how often you do it, and what you do with the results are going to vary based on a number of considerations. First and foremost goes right back to step 1. What is the program’s purpose and objectives?

Step 4: Determine your performance standards.  First and foremost again, is to align these standards with your programs purpose and objectives. The quality of these standards will make or break your program.  These should fall into one of two categories of standards: foundational (those which indicate whether or not something was done) and finesse (those which indicate how well something was done).  The standards should be well defined with their business purpose and reference examples documented and distributed to all members of the team.

Step 5: Stop using your monitoring form as the sole focus of the quality monitoring process, the best medium to communicate your performance standards, or as a substitute for a coaching session. It is NONE of those things.  It is a tool that should be easy to understand, easy to use, and consistent with your brand and image.

Step 6: Calibrate! This process should be well defined in terms of frequency, format, and anticipated outcomes.  What is one sign of a successful calibration session? Everyone reaches agreement about the 1 or 2 “moments of truth” that should be addressed as a result of the contact.

Step 7: Use a coaching model to reinforce or change behaviors as a result of what is uncovered by quality monitoring. The far-reaching benefits of coaching include boosting productivity, positively affecting culture and increasing retention, fulfilling the natural need for recognition and appreciation, and improving overall communication within the contact center.

As I said earlier, this type of transformation will take time.  Involve your entire team, begin at step one, and connect every other step back to the program purpose and objectives that you develop.  Once your program is off the ground, be sure to chart individual agent statistics and collaborate with your training department to create a skills matrix and continuous improvement plan.  I encourage you to have an active dialogue about the quality monitoring program amongst your team and promote agent self-assessment.  Lastly, remember that your quality program is not dead.  It is a living, breathing part of your contact center and should be reviewed and revised as processes, customer expectations, or corporate objectives change.

If you’ll be joining us at ICMI’s Contact Center Expo in San Diego, I’ll be taking a deeper dive on this topic in a special half-day workshop.  There is still space available, so I encourage you to get registered here. You can also reach out to me directly with any thoughts, ideas, additions, or questions at or on Twitter @justinmrobbins

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