Think about the last time you called a customer service desk. Before the call started, you may have encountered a brief message saying, "This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance."


Likely, you moved past this message, only slightly concerned about the Big-Brother-esque privacy invasion. I never thought too much of it, either.

So, why are companies monitoring and recording random phone calls between customers and customer service reps? And, what actions will the company take based on the conversations it observes?

Let's explore those questions, beginning with what call quality is and why it's important to customer service call centers.

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What Is Call Quality?

Call quality measures the efficiency and effectiveness of conversations between customer service representatives and customers. High-quality calls are polite, professional, understanding, timely, and solve the problem at hand. The customer should hang up feeling like they've had a positive experience, the solution is clear, and they know how to prevent the issue from reoccurring.

Call Center Quality Assurance

Call center quality assurance is the process of observing and analyzing customer service calls. It tests for a variety of factors: employee attitude, the effectiveness of problem-solving, customer satisfaction, and more. This process assures every customer is treated with respect and offered a positive, competent, and timely brand experience.

Quality assurance optimizes the financial return of a call center. If customer service reps are too slow or get distracted too frequently, the company loses money from paying employees who aren't doing their job. And, if reps induce negative experiences, this can increase customer churn and lose potential business.

Customer service reps communicate directly with customers, and these interactions bring in new leads and increase customer lifetime value. If you're not getting these results from your call center, here are some steps you can take to monitor and improve call quality.

7-Step Guide to Monitoring Call Quality

1. Hire a team to monitor call quality.

First, select people who are most qualified to measure call quality. You may even consider selecting a team of internal employees. This team should include customer service managers or senior agents who thoroughly understand customer service. These people know your company the best and have more experience with your customers.

You can also hire a third-party team to handle call center quality assurance. These services provide trained professionals to measure your call center's call quality. The benefit of this approach is unbiased analysis .

2. Develop scorecards.

Once you have a team in place, they should create scorecards highlighting the factors agents will be evaluated on. You might test for how long the call lasts, how well the agent listens to the customer's problem, and how the agent handles an upset customer.

This is a great opportunity to involve your agents in the quality assurance process. Ask for their input and consider their experiences when developing your benchmarks. By including your call center agents, they'll better understand what they're being scored on and will be prepared to commit to those benchmarks.

3. Differentiate monitoring based on types of calls.

It may make sense to create one quality assurance scorecard to measure all of your calls. However, this raises some red flags. After all, does every agent have the exact same job? Is every phone call identical?

Some customer service calls are proactive, like those made by a customer success agent to offer new products and services. Others are reactive, such as support calls initiated by the customer. In some cases, the customer might have a simple problem and is happy to work with your team. Other times, customers might start the call frustrated without giving your rep a chance to salvage the situation.

One quality assurance scorecard can't accurately measure every type of customer service call. A few scorecards should be made to ensure agents aren't receiving poor scores just because they have to deliver bad news.

4. Recognize successful behaviors.

When monitoring for quality assurance, it's easy to get wrapped up in the mistakes and shortcomings of customer calls. These are important to mention to your agents when offering them feedback.

However, focusing solely on the negatives may hinder your team's long-term success. Make sure you also recognize the positives, so your agents know their strengths as well as their weaknesses. Balancing the good with the bad is the best way to both reward employees and present them with opportunities for improvement.

5. Save prime phone calls as future examples.

Some phone calls are close to perfect. The agent ticks all the boxes and leaves the customer feeling delighted.

These are the kinds of calls you want to save and show to other agents as part of quality assurance training. Note the specific choices the representative made and how these choices created a more positive experience for the customer. Sometimes, seeing an example of high-quality customer service helps employees get a better grasp on what's being asked of them.

6. Improve processes, not just employees.

It's important for quality assurance teams to know not every shortcoming is at the fault of a customer service rep. Mistakes are made, and most employees will own up to them. However, sometimes a recurring problem that emerges across multiple agents means an internal process needs to be revamped.

For instance, you might notice that your support team needs to reduce your customer's time on hold. Start by reminding your reps that all customers need help and sometimes it's acceptable to follow up with them if the case is more complex. This might motivate your reps to pick up the pace, but as customer demand increases, your team will struggle to handle the pressure. By investing in customer service tools, you can automate your support process and improve your team's overall efficiency.

7. Hold in-person reviews.

When you've finished call monitoring, offer feedback to agents on what you've observed and how you've scored them. Your employees should understand and implement your feedback moving forward.

It's essential to meet in-person with employees to discuss their performance. Online reviews or emails will not suffice, as employees could miss the feedback, misinterpret what you're saying, or be confused and require further explanation. It's better to establish a relationship where agents feel comfortable opening up to you, and that's best accomplished through an in-person setting.

To learn about another important customer service metric, read about average handling time.

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 Customer Service Metrics

Originally published May 23, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated May 23 2019

Topics:

Call Center