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The Quality Revolution: 5 Keys to Transforming Your Quality Program

There’s a dirty little secret among sales and service contact centers: Most Quality Programs don’t work. There, I’ve said it. The secret’s out.

They don’t measure, predict, or contribute to success in KPIs or customer experience. In fact, many Quality Programs do more harm than good.

And that’s a big deal. Quality is, by far, the single most underleveraged resource in contact centers. Quality should be a direct predictor and contributor to performance improvement. Quality should be a strategic lever to drive performance improvement.

The good news is that in the last two years, a small handful of companies have been leading “The Quality Revolution”: Reinventing what Quality is, how it’s done, and how it’s measured. And in the process, those companies are transforming Quality into a strategic lever to drive performance improvement.

The Challenge with Conventional Quality Programs

Most conventional Quality programs haven’t changed much in 20 years. Many organizations sense that they’re not working, or that they’re not getting value from them. But they don’t really understand why.

So what’s wrong today with the conventional approach?

  • Measuring the Wrong Behaviors: The behaviors that Quality measures often just don’t matter to driving KPIs such as Customer Satisfaction, Sales, Retention, or First Call Resolution. In fact, 9 out of 10 Quality Programs measure behaviors that have zero correlation to the most important KPIs.
  • Reps Into Robots: Quality often turns Reps into robots, forcing them to follow a “checklist of behaviors,” rather than listen to the customer and drive an experience that rewards the spirit vs. letter of the law
  • Calibration Not Measured: It is often unclear – and almost always unquantified – how well calibrated the organization is… meaning the organization is probably not as well calibrated as they suspect. And if Quality isn’t calibrated, who is going to believe their scores?
  • Front Line Resentment: The Reps resist, resent, or at best tolerate Quality’s feedback… but rarely actually change their behaviors in positive ways. In my surveys of contact centers, only 35% of Reps view their Quality Program as valuable to them achieving their performance goals.
  • Leadership Isn’t Listening: Leadership dismisses Quality’s insights because, well, there often aren’t any. One of the most telling stories one executive told me was this: “We monitored over 500,000 calls last year. I didn’t open up Quality Assurance’s report a single time. There’s just no value in it.”

This last point is particularly troubling because Quality is the single most underleveraged resource in contact centers. When done right, Quality can and should transform a call center channel’s performance.

The Quality Revolution: Strategic Quality Assurance (sQA)

In the last few years, several companies – some Fortune 500, some mid-sized – have begun shaking up how Quality is done. They are insisting that Quality should:

  • Be measurable and inspectable
  • Quantifiably predict a contact center’s performance
  • Lead to genuine insights about the customer experience
  • Be a tool that guides, rather one that punishes
  • Measure the very human interactions between their Reps and customers (and do this effectively)

These companies are leading “The Quality Revolution”, and transforming Quality into a strategic lever to drive performance and customer experience.

There are Five Keys to Strategic Quality Assurance (sQA):

  1. Embrace Subjectivity In Behaviors: Define the Behaviors that reflect the essence of your ideal customer interaction – not the details. This means avoiding the temptation to codify “black and white” behaviors. Rather, focus on the “spirit of the law”, rather than the “letter of the law.”
  2. Correlate and Measure ‘Predictiveness’: Measure the relationship between behaviors and KPIs to determine if those subjective behaviors are truly “predicting” success.
  3. Automate Calibration: Reduce your reliance on labor-intensive calibration meetings, and build a rigorous process around automation and insightful “heat map” reporting.
  4. Foster the Human Connection: Invest in your Quality Agents so they become partners with the Front Line, not adversaries
  5. Certify & Continuously Improve: Regularly measure the health of your sQA Program, “tighten” it every year, and ensure it stays aligned to the customer experience and your evolving business priorities

You’ll notice that these five keys balance the “art and science” of Quality. This is intentional; these keys ensure that sQA reflects the essentially human interaction between customers and reps, and at the same time, is rigorous, quantifiable, and replicable.

In the subsequent articles in this series, we will dissect each of these keys, and provide actionable best practices for implementing sQA. You’ll find that some of these best practices are so common-sense that it is a wonder that more contact centers don’t employ them. You’ll also find that some of the best practices may run completely counter to your instincts, and are contrary to everything that “conventional QA” programs preach as gospel.

When taken together, these best practices represent the Quality Revolution, and they will help transform your Quality Program into a strategic driver of customer experience and KPIs.

About Weber Associates

Weber Associates is a Columbus, OH based consulting firm. The company delivers customer-centric strategies and drives execution of those strategies at the frontline with call center, field sales, marketing and quality assurance programs and software. Weber Associates works with companies of all sizes, helping them deliver on their customer promise in every touch point they have with their customers.  For more information on Weber Associates visit www.weberassoc.com.

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