Extending Phone Quality Programs to Chat and Email2018-12-04T23:15:46+00:00

Extending Phone Quality Programs
to Chat and Email

Tips and Techniques from the 2018 QATC Conference

A popular session at the 2018 QATC Annual Conference was focused on the challenges and proven practices for extending telephone quality programs to written channels of customer communications.  Two expert panel members, Craig Brasington of Deloitte Services LLC and Chaunte Johnson of Cox Automotive Group, shared stories of what has worked and not worked in their multi-channel contact centers related to developing a quality program for chat and email.

Define channel interaction content.  At least at the beginning, it is best to limit written channel interactions to straightforward content where little interpretation and decision-making are needed.

Define the number of simultaneous interactions.  It is recommended to limit the number of chats an agent is expected to handle simultaneously.  While the technology may support four or more chats at a time, this high number may not be something the staff can handle. Experience suggests that two at a time is the most common guideline and perhaps three if the content is fairly simple.  Overloading the number of simultaneous tasks makes it difficult to deliver a quality experience, so do not sacrifice quality for quantity and efficiency.

Learn what your technology can do. Part of how you define your quality program will depend upon the capabilities of your quality system.  Learn what the system can and cannot do in terms of simultaneous distribution, content capture, recording, and analytics.

Think carefully about the use of universal agents. While having staff handle both voice and non-voice interactions can increase overall utilization, some efficiencies may be lost as agents handle their non-primary area.  Removing specialization may also result in decreased quality for customers and decreased job satisfaction for agents. If universal agents are to be used, ensure that agents move between media often enough to keep their skills at an acceptable level in each area.

Engage the workforce management team to assist with skill-based routing of chat interactions.  It is challenging to match agent skills to demand, especially if there are very different volumes by media type.  Use the capabilities of your WFM system to match up these skills to forecast demand in order to meet service goals.

Rethink speed of answer goals for other media.  One center changed an automated email response from “We will respond within 2 hours” to “We will respond in 4 hours.

If you need faster service, please call or initiate a chat session.”   This can push contacts that don’t need an instant response into later times when demand is lower in other media types.

Track and analyze skill deficiencies. It is important to understand those skills that can be addressed with training and those that are a more serious educational deficiency. For example, if an agent struggles with the basics of writing in terms of sentence structure, proper grammar, and punctuation, focusing time on tone may be wasted. These may not be the agents that should ever be responding to non-verbal communications.

Separate performance metrics by channel.  It will be useful to look at customer satisfaction scores and other agent performance data by channel.  There may be some agents excelling at voice communications who have serious gaps with written communications and vice versa. Review these performance metrics by channel to determine best match of an agent’s skills to media type.

Use a quality form unique to each media.  While it is important to have much of the same reporting criteria across channels to measure customer experience and quality, there will be differences that should be accommodated in the form. If the same main criteria must be used, it may be possible to establish a subset of criteria adapted for each channel.  It is useful to use the same quality tool even if the forms are different.

Keep modifying the quality form until you have useful, actionable data.  It is important to keep tweaking the quality form until you are confident in the data to identify excellent performance and those areas that need improvement. Templates can be a good start for transactional interactions, but often do not provide enough flexibility to note complaints or the need for technical support.

Use the web site design to better direct messages.  When designing your web site, it is possible to provide different messages to customers depending upon how you prefer they seek assistance.  For those in certain technical areas of the site that will likely require a one-to-one talk, refer those to a message to call a specific number. Those with simpler issues can be directed to a message to chat with an agent. This is a good way to sort the more complex calls up front.

Sort emails by complexity.  There will be many emails that are common questions that arrive with a high volume that can be handled with a standard, canned response. If any more complex issues are indicated in the email, those can be routed to a second-level agent.

Supply different messages by time of day. If your agents are not available 24x7, the automated after-hours message for those requesting chat might let customers know that another alternative is sending an email or calling during regular business hours.

Test for all skills during the hiring process.  As you test candidates during the interview process, include tests for a wide variety of skills, including those needed today as well as those anticipated for the future to meet multi-media requirements. If the agent resists taking on new channels, but passed the test during the hiring process, you can use that success to overcome resistance.

Extending Phone Quality Programs to Chat and Email

Tips and Techniques from the 2018 QATC Conference

A popular session at the 2018 QATC Annual Conference was focused on the challenges and proven practices for extending telephone quality programs to written channels of customer communications.  Two expert panel members, Craig Brasington of Deloitte Services LLC and Chaunte Johnson of Cox Automotive Group, shared stories of what has worked and not worked in their multi-channel contact centers related to developing a quality program for chat and email.

Define channel interaction content.  At least at the beginning, it is best to limit written channel interactions to straightforward content where little interpretation and decision-making are needed.

Define the number of simultaneous interactions.  It is recommended to limit the number of chats an agent is expected to handle simultaneously.  While the technology may support four or more chats at a time, this high number may not be something the staff can handle. Experience suggests that two at a time is the most common guideline and perhaps three if the content is fairly simple.  Overloading the number of simultaneous tasks makes it difficult to deliver a quality experience, so do not sacrifice quality for quantity and efficiency.

Learn what your technology can do. Part of how you define your quality program will depend upon the capabilities of your quality system.  Learn what the system can and cannot do in terms of simultaneous distribution, content capture, recording, and analytics.

Think carefully about the use of universal agents. While having staff handle both voice and non-voice interactions can increase overall utilization, some efficiencies may be lost as agents handle their non-primary area.  Removing specialization may also result in decreased quality for customers and decreased job satisfaction for agents. If universal agents are to be used, ensure that agents move between media often enough to keep their skills at an acceptable level in each area.

Engage the workforce management team to assist with skill-based routing of chat interactions.  It is challenging to match agent skills to demand, especially if there are very different volumes by media type.  Use the capabilities of your WFM system to match up these skills to forecast demand in order to meet service goals.

Track and analyze skill deficiencies. It is important to understand those skills that can be addressed with training and those that are a more serious educational deficiency. For example, if an agent struggles with the basics of writing in terms of sentence structure, proper grammar, and punctuation, focusing time on tone may be wasted. These may not be the agents that should ever be responding to non-verbal communications.

Separate performance metrics by channel.  It will be useful to look at customer satisfaction scores and other agent performance data by channel.  There may be some agents excelling at voice communications who have serious gaps with written communications and vice versa. Review these performance metrics by channel to determine best match of an agent’s skills to media type.

Use a quality form unique to each media.  While it is important to have much of the same reporting criteria across channels to measure customer experience and quality, there will be differences that should be accommodated in the form. If the same main criteria must be used, it may be possible to establish a subset of criteria adapted for each channel.  It is useful to use the same quality tool even if the forms are different.

Keep modifying the quality form until you have useful, actionable data.  It is important to keep tweaking the quality form until you are confident in the data to identify excellent performance and those areas that need improvement. Templates can be a good start for transactional interactions, but often do not provide enough flexibility to note complaints or the need for technical support.

Use the web site design to better direct messages.  When designing your web site, it is possible to provide different messages to customers depending upon how you prefer they seek assistance.  For those in certain technical areas of the site that will likely require a one-to-one talk, refer those to a message to call a specific number. Those with simpler issues can be directed to a message to chat with an agent. This is a good way to sort the more complex calls up front.

Sort emails by complexity.  There will be many emails that are common questions that arrive with a high volume that can be handled with a standard, canned response. If any more complex issues are indicated in the email, those can be routed to a second-level agent.

Supply different messages by time of day. If your agents are not available 24x7, the automated after-hours message for those requesting chat might let customers know that another alternative is sending an email or calling during regular business hours.

Test for all skills during the hiring process.  As you test candidates during the interview process, include tests for a wide variety of skills, including those needed today as well as those anticipated for the future to meet multi-media requirements. If the agent resists taking on new channels, but passed the test during the hiring process, you can use that success to overcome resistance.

Rethink speed of answer goals for other media.  One center changed an automated email response from “We will respond within 2 hours” to “We will respond in 4 hours.

If you need faster service, please call or initiate a chat session.”   This can push contacts that don’t need an instant response into later times when demand is lower in other media types.