Make the Most Of Your Quality Program With These Top 20 Ideas

At each QATC Annual Conference, a panel of quality experts share quick ideas about making the most of your QA program in the “60 Ideas in 60 Minutes” session in a rapid-fire, idea-a-minute format. Despite their brevity, there are always some powerful ideas from the session that supply good food for thought. Below is a sample of 20 ideas from these sessions over the years:

  1. All calls are not equal. Use speech analytics to find high value calls that point to business outcomes. As an example, start with transfer calls as a potential red flag. By reviewing these calls, you can determine if a call was transferred due to lack of agent’s skill (pointing to more training required) or whether the call ended up in the wrong place to start because of confusing dialing instructions (a routing or design flaw). Begin with these “red flag” calls to assess and fix some of the more obvious problems.
  2. Incorporate your QA program into early new-hire training. Sometimes frontline staff are a bit overwhelmed in their first weeks of handling live calls and that stress is compounded by being faced with their first call reviews. To ensure it’s not a surprise later on, introduce the quality process and the QA forms in early training sessions and use forms with sample calls in the safety and security of the training environment. Some centers begin with “boot camp” forms that have only subjective comments and not scoring.
  3. Take time to line up behaviors and monitoring categories with your corporate mission and goals. Ask yourself what every line item on the QA form means and how it supports either the business mission and goals or supports the needs of the customer. Review the QA forms on a regular basis to make sure you are focusing on both customer and business needs and not reviewing and coaching on non-relevant behaviors.
  4. Always look at calls with the customer’s point of view. At the end of a call review, ask whether a marked-down item made a difference to the customer. There can be items that may be viewed as desirable, but not really relevant to the outcome of the call and the customer’s perception of competency and service. Place these items in a “nice to demonstrate” category, but don’t count against the agent if the customer interaction was not impacted.
  5. Do joint evaluations with an agent and a quality analyst. Let agents pick the call and do a joint evaluation of it as one part of the monthly sample of calls. It is important to get agents familiar with the review process and doing their own reviews generates more buy-in to the process and more attention to the overall quality process. A joint call review generally starts a better discussion between the two people and makes the quality analyst or coach come better prepared.
  6. Focus your QA dollars and time on the areas needed the most. Look for areas where there is the most opportunity for improvement. It makes sense to devote more time to the review of new agents’ calls and ones that are struggling with certain aspects of the call. Less time may be needed with reviews of calls from agents who regularly perform well. If scores are consistently high, it may be safe to do fewer evaluations, but don’t forget to still provide positive feedback to the high performers so they don’t feel neglected.
  7. Focus on active listening and asking the right questions. It is a fact that spending more time listening to the customer and asking the right questions to pinpoint information can have positive outcomes in terms of sales and service. One quick way to evaluate listening time is to analyze calls to look at percentage of time the agent is speaking versus customer.
  8. Do continued training throughout the year and make the sessions collaborative. As you do refresher training in the area of sales, escalations, etc., make sure you follow up these sessions with a time for review and discussion. Follow up with “campfire” discussions where small groups of agents can ask questions and voice concerns.
  9. Analyze the call review data and impact of scoring. For example, look at scores for an agent or group of agents to see if 2 point, 4 point, or 6 point markdowns are actually changing behaviors. Do some analysis to see where there is correlation with scoring and performance change. If there is no correlation with these scoring systems and performance improvement, it may be time to rethink your scoring system.
  10. Organize calls by various types of call patterns. For example, identify those that have long on-hold times during a call and push these out to supervisors or the quality team for review. While some of the calls may point to agents that need coaching, there may also be business improvements lurking in the call data.
  11. Monitor “issue centric” calls rather than doing random selection. Random selection of calls may sound fair, but it can also yield a haphazard sample of calls to review. Focus more on specific issues and look for symptoms (high AHT, lower FCR, etc) and try to pinpoint root cause so there are more relevant examples for coaching.
  12. Review screens as well as audio. If you are only hearing the audio part of a call, it is difficult to determine the reason behind long pauses or on-hold time. Looking at the screen activity that accompanies a call can provide a full picture of the agent’s activity.
  13. Evaluate your QA form twice a year. It is critical to make sure changes you are making by coaching behaviors are actually accomplishing business objectives. For example, coaching to reduce handle time might be successful to shave off seconds from a call, but the shorter calls may be contributing to lower customer satisfaction.
  14. Celebrate wins and behaviors moving in the right direction, even if small. While an agent may need a big change in behaviors, it is difficult to accomplish all the change at once. Monitor for small changes in the right direction and recognize and celebrate these small changes in a way that is comfortable to the agent.
  15. Empower your QA team to be coaches and trainers. The QA team should be prepared not just to provide feedback and coaching for frontline staff, but for the supervisors and team leaders too. In many cases, the agent’s team leader or supervisor will be doing more coaching than the quality team, so help the supervisors with feedback techniques to use the quality data better.
  16. Create a path for QA to the C-level. Keep the center and the QA process visible with senior management so they understand the value. This visibility can take many forms. Ideally the executive team should be invited to drop in anytime to visit and listen to “Voice of the Customer” calls, but it may be easier to set up a special date and time to make this happen on their calendars. Sending sample calls for them to hear once a month and reports that show trends in customer data or performance scores can also keep quality in front of them.
  17. Sample calls from different times of day and days of week. People perform differently on different days of week and different times of day. To get a more representative view, get a broader sample. Set up recording for a varied sample. Also, with speech analytics, ask for specifics on types of calls or particular words or processes to be reviewed.
  18. Let agents submit calls for review. First, allow each person to submit a call to be judged in a positive way to allow them to show off good techniques and positive customer outcomes. These can be entered into a “Best Call of the Week” program and can be housed in a sample library for training purposes. Likewise, let them submit one call where they had difficulties. This call can be submitted for coaching only, with no scoring that counts toward a performance score. This no-pressure review provides a real coaching opportunity and supports buy-in for the review process.
  19. Develop a Voice of the Customer program. It is critical to have a program where customer needs and feedback are officially tracked and reported. Any call where a customer voices a complaint, makes a product suggestion, or shares competitive information should be noted. It’s important to have an easy to use tool to record these ideas and a team assigned to regularly review these comments to analyze, organize, and communicate to the relevant areas in the organization.
  20. Leverage the frontline staff to review more calls. When you find some overstaffed periods and staff availability, take some time for frontline staff to review their own calls or calls of team members. These additional reviews can increase your sample size and give all the staff more experience in the call review process.