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Get Agent Buy-In for Your Contact Center's Quality Management Program

planningWhen I ask clients to share their (quality management) QM program goals, I usually hear standard customer-and company-centric goals like: “We want to increase quality, improve agent performance, and shape a great customer experience.”

What I don’t usually hear are goals that specifically describe how we want our QM program to touch the hearts of our agents. Make no mistake – you need hearts, attention, emotion, and agreement for your QM program to have more than a surface impact. If your program asks agents to trust coaching and use feedback to change their behavior, it’s critical to prioritize the agent experience in QM program design. Plus, your QM practices can do so much more when they’re designed to inspire belonging, connection, and significance.

Here’s a list of agent-centric QM priorities and examples of how to build them into you QM program:

Drive confidence engagement, ownership, and connection

  • Involve agents in program design and in shaping coaching content. How would you design the QM program if it were yours? What’s the best way to provide useful feedback?
  • Facilitate collaborative, two-way coaching conversations. Use coaching time to get to know the agent and to establish more connected relationships.
  • Take confidence pulse checks – How confident are you that you can make this change? – during coaching to gauge how much support this agent needs.
  • Ask QM program-related questions in agent focus groups and engagement surveys.

    Increase understanding of company vision and values

  • Map QM program approach and criteria to company vision and values.
  • Keep your values handy, and ask agents to consider how those values relate to the interactions you’re discussing and how the QM program supports the company’s vision and values.

    Support skill mastery and career growth

  • Encourage frontline team members to own their self-development and competency journey. After each coaching session, ask the agent to send you a summary and track their progress against goals between sessions. Next coaching session? They tell you what they’ve been working on and how they’ve progressed.
  • Tie customer service and sales skills to lifelong professional growth. Help employees see how the skills they are mastering - emotional regulation, positive positioning, empathy, managing difficult people - will help them wherever they are going in their careers, and how contact center work is central to so many critical business applications.

    What’s in it for your agent?

    Customer-centric organizations encourage every employee to focus on the customer, the customer, the customer. And to be sustainable as an organization, we have to work efficiently and without waste. Most QM programs are designed to support these two goals. The only drawback? This can leave the quality team trying to “convince” agents to care about the company and the customer. Adding in a layer of What’s in it for me? can provide the missing link to gain Agent attention and interest.

    Start with one simple exercise that will lead you toward the right design: Pose these two questions to QM stakeholders – QA, Supervisors, Managers, Trainers – and ask them to respond with a description of how they wish agents would describe the QA program.

    1. The QM program __________________________.

    2. The QM Program makes me feel ____________________.

    Stakeholders may need some additional prompting to break out of bland corporate-speak. Generic statements of purpose – The QM program ensures we are doing the right things – lead to boring program design. Inspirational, motivational statements – The QM program helps me see my role in the bigger picture and the impact of what I do on a daily basis – lead to aspirational program design.

    Here are some examples:

    “The QM program helps me feel good about the work I do.”

  • Focus coaching conversations on the impact of good service and the emotional benefits of connecting with customers. Your day goes better when customers respond positively to you and these are skills you can develop.

    “The QM program helps me see my role in the bigger picture and the impact of what I do.”

  • Discuss company goals, strategy, values, financial priorities, and how the contact center fits in with the bigger picture. Share how an Agent’s hourly and daily decisions impact customers, the bottom line, other departments, and the health of the company. Your work matters. You matter.

    “The QM Program is really designed to help me become better at my job. At my old job, it was just 'pick, pick, pick.' Here, we focus on the things that really matter.”

  • Involve agent in creating the contact center’s vision of quality and the quality standards they are accountable for.
  • Center Agent input in coaching sessions and discussions about quality. Ask them what they think makes a “great customer interaction” and if they agree current QM requirements reinforce what matters most.
  • Ask agent to evaluate customer interactions, participate in calibration sessions, and find ways for them to have a seat at the Quality table.

    In the second part of this overview of how to get agent buy-in for your quality management program, we'll look at ways to fine-tune the language of QM initiatives and how to keep people motivated for improvement over the long haul.