In this article, we will review a portion of some organization’s actual quality monitoring form and offer suggestions for improvement. Some of the items identified may not be “wrong” but may merit discussion for how to review and evaluate. We hope these reviews help you identify the strengths in your own form as well as opportunities for change and improvement.
The topic is Telephone Etiquette. Below are some actual items found on selected quality monitoring forms from three different organizations.
A. Friendly and Helpful
While we would all agree that being “friendly and helpful” is desirable, having this alone as a checklist item can be problematic. Multiple people might review a call and have very different views about how “friendly and helpful” the agent was on the call. In other words, “friendly” and “helpful” are fairly subjective descriptors. It is important to define these desirable attributes into specific behaviors that can be observed with little doubt as to whether the agent demonstrated the behavior or not. For example, the behavior of offering assistance or additional explanations might constitute examples of “helpful.” You will want to either change this on the form, or at least have a detailed Quality Standards Document that defines the desirable characteristics and lists the specific behaviors that you want to see.
B. Small Talk
It’s unusual to see this item on a quality monitoring form, since in most cases small talk is discouraged. However, it might be encouraged in some instances such as selling where the agent is probing to learn more about the caller in order to better position a product.
In this example, however, the company actually had a Call Control category on its quality form where the agent’s ability to gain control of a call and ensure a speedy resolution were noted. Clearly in this case there were conflicting performance objectives. You will want to review all the items on your quality form to ensure that any two items are not in conflict with one another.
C. Sir and Madam
While use of these titles can show a certain level of respect, it is difficult sometimes to choose the right title, particularly when having a conversation with a female customer. A more general title to use might be “ma’am” instead of “madam” which is generally a term used to refer to a married woman. Even if correctly used with a married female, the word “madam” tends to be overly formal and is not a term generally used.
D. Customer’s Name
Many organizations perceive that the use of the customer’s name during a call translates into a more personalized interaction. While it can add to a personalized feel, some studies show that using it too often during a call sounds forced and can even annoy the customer. One suggestion is to use it during the opening/greeting phase and then again during the closing (Thank you for your business, Mr. Smith.) By using it in the closing, the caller leaves with the personalized feel of the call and the pressure is off the agent to remember to use it some defined number of times throughout the call.
E. Modeling Caller’s Voice Tone
While encouraging agents to match up to the caller’s speed or tempo of speech might be useful, it can sometimes be dangerous to match voice tone. If a customer is upset and is talking loudly and harshly, we certainly would not want to start talking louder back at them in order to match. On the contrary, lowering voice tone and speaking softer is a recognized technique to calm down an angry caller. Be careful about suggesting your agents try to match voice tone with the caller – it can be a dangerous practice.