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Avoid These Quality Management Pitfalls

tinted shotMost contact centers pour significant time, money, and resources into evaluating mountains of customer interactions - only to be derailed by undetected program pitfalls. Keep reading to learn more about how to recognize if your quality management (QM) program might be going off track, and how to avoid the most common pitfalls.

Pitfall 1: Evaluators aren’t job experts

This may be an issue if:

  • Evaluators are hired without prior program-specific agent expertise.
  • Agents complain “QA doesn’t even know how to do this job!”
  • The evaluation form is light on in-depth job knowledge and heavy on soft skills, or includes many items that can be easily evaluated without program-specific expertise.

The quality evaluator role requires both job-specific knowledge and expertise related to measurement and quality, and well-developed characteristics such as good judgement, attention to detail, persuasiveness, and strong written and verbal communication skills. Hiring for quality assurance (QA) experience without job knowledge – either acquired on the job or as part of a comprehensive training process – leaves quality evaluators and your program at a significant disadvantage. Unqualified evaluators lack the credibility that’s necessary for agents to trust QM results – and we’re also missing a significant component of quality: the accuracy of the information we’re providing to customers.

Here are some possible fixes:

  • Hire QA team members from within, with training to assist with QA knowledge gaps and mentoring to transition team members into their new roles.
  • Fully commit to arming your QA team members with the job knowledge they need. This includes attending new hire training and subsequent trainings when they impact evaluations, regular side-by-sides, and routine handling of customer interactions to stay current.

Pitfall 2: The QM process is rigid and overly legalistic

You may have an issue with this if:

  • You have a multi-step, hierarchical dispute policy that’s frequently deployed.
  • Agents and supervisors feel like they must “fight for points.”
  • There’s a lack of mutual understanding and collaboration between Agents and Evaluators.

When our QM program doesn’t have the impact we’d like, or when it creates non-stop conflict and disputes, it’s common to fiddle with the process. We might evaluate more calls, adjust the points, change the criteria, or shift how coaching is delivered.

There isn’t a magical process that’s going to motivate employees to embrace your QM program. The best approach is often to focus less on the process and more on deepening conversations, collaborations, and connections.

Here are some possible fixes:

  • Avoid cultivating a process where the QM program is defined by the rules, what one loses points for, and the escalation policy. Create an inspirational vision of what you want your human-centered QM program to achieve, and design your processes around that.
  • Refine how agents, supervisors, and evaluators engage with each other. Rather than lodge a formal complaint, allow agents to ask for an evaluation explanation where the evaluator shares their perspective. Provide flexibility to break out of the win/lose stalemate with a new evaluation.

If there is truly a performance problem, I promise, it will show up again. And because you’ve built credibility and empathy into the process, that sets a positive stage for the next conversation.

Pitfall 3: QM criteria conflicts with other performance objectives

You may have an issue with this if:

  • Supervisors and agents express skepticism about QM criteria, scoring, and the evaluation process.
  • Concerns about unfair criteria go unaddressed or are categorized as “complaining.”
  • Agents have learned how to game the process to earn the points they need to pass.

This pitfall has the potential to become a significant, sticking pain point which can undermine QM program goals. When we create conflicts between competing performance objectives, it erodes the trust and honesty required for managers and employees to work together productively.

Here are some possible fixes:

  • Proactively solicit employees’ perception of QM and operational performance requirements and explicitly ask if they experience any conflicts. Conversations like this engage employees more deeply in conversations about their work, and demonstrate listening and respect.
  • Take the sharing of grievances seriously, engage with and discuss them, and work to positively address them. Depending on the conflict, this might mean adjusting the requirement, or it might sound like, “I can see how it might seem there’s a conflict between two requirements. Let’s talk about how you can balance providing great service and working efficiently.”

 You’ve probably noticed that avoiding these pitfalls requires a willingness to listen to QM stakeholders who will warn you when you’re getting close to the edge. This expands your QM program to create a collaborative, multi-layered program that centers the human experience, and is designed to capture the hearts and minds of everyone it touches.