Monitoring isn’t all about spotting problems and dealing with them. It’s also about identifying and amplifying positive messages. Even in today’s technologically sophisticated contact centres, a simple ‘thank you’ can work wonders. Here our panels of experts share their tips with us……….
1. Make good use of the information you gather
Call quality monitoring is essential for any contact centre, providing invaluable insight into how you are performing and what consumers are really experiencing.
The most useful results often stem from measuring and improvement processes that go beyond monitoring sample calls, impinging on wider areas of the business, from the setting and evaluating of standards, to advisor coaching, through to the training and development of staff.
2. Get the small things right
Having said that, regular monitoring is a good way of maintaining best practice, ensuring advisors get the details right: greeting consumers appropriately, adhering to the laid-down call structure, and using agreed positive phases throughout the call.
With regular quality monitoring, you can prevent bad habits creeping in, spreading from advisor to advisor, and contact centre to contact centre. Regular monitoring, support, feedback and training all help you maintain your high standards.
3. It doesn’t have to be hi-tech
But you don’t have to go hi-tech. Remember, some monitoring – even the most basic – is better than no monitoring at all. You can start with simple activities – a spreadsheet with tick boxes filled in manually – and work your way up slowly. And if you set realistic targets, achieving them will be motivating, paving the way to other more ambitious goals.
4. We’re not out to catch you out
Winning employee engagement and involvement from early on in the monitoring process is essential.
When monitoring is first introduced, there’s a tendency for some people to think it will be critical. On the other hand, where a monitoring system has been in place unchanged for a long time, advisors may start to take it for granted.
Call quality monitoring is not – or should not be – a negative, top-down activity, designed to trip advisors up. In the best contact centres, it is an integral part of the skills programme, of benefit to advisors as well as consumers.
Monitoring that is collaborative rather than prescriptive, inclusive rather than authoritarian, is likely to lead to more acceptance and co-operation. Most advisors find it helpful to know what the company expects of them and why their calls are important to the business and its customers.
5. Feedback, support and training are fundamental
Feedback from the monitoring process should be objective, using a method of scoring and evaluating that is fair and agreed by all in advance, and it must be consistent and regular. Once milestones are agreed and set, they must be kept to, built on and progressed.
Feedback can be delivered one-to-one, remotely, or via group sessions where advisors share and spread best practice. Whatever method is selected, the important thing is that there is an opportunity for individual advisors to contribute to the discussion.
Not only does this encourage their buy-in to the process, their comments and suggestions are often extremely insightful. But bear in mind that advisors are sometimes harder on their own and colleagues’ performances than supervisors would be.
Staff support should be provided through interventions such as refresher and formal skills training, and development and action plans to improve advisor performance, always with the aim of improving the customer experience and achieving your business objectives.
6. Quality people for quality monitoring
Quality evaluation is only as good as the person doing the evaluating.
If possible, it’s worthwhile investing in a dedicated person – or, in the case of larger contact centres, a specialist team – to monitor quality in your contact centre. Supervisors are there to manage the floor and plan campaigns, not to monitor quality. By giving that role to a dedicated individual or team, you leave your operational staff free to manage.
Once you have identified someone to handle monitoring, evaluating and training, give them the resources, training and skills they need to carry out appraisals, coaching, training and development, either by developing your own people or by recruiting in the required expertise.
7. Time and effort spent on monitoring is never wasted
There’s a direct correlation between call quality and the accuracy, frequency and excellence of monitoring and coaching. The equation is simple: the more time and effort you invest in monitoring and coaching, the better the service to your customers will be, and the bigger the benefits to sales and customer retention levels.
8. External benchmarking
As well as internal monitoring, it’s also helpful to compare your performance with others, especially the competition. Internal checks will give you a more subjective picture, which could be misleading. For a truly objective result, you need external benchmarking. Contact centres with no monitoring systems or resources in place should consider outsourcing these functions to an external agency. It can be a cost-effective option.
9. Reward best practice
Reward high-quality work through mechanisms such as ‘advisor of the month’ awards and staff excellence certificates, or highlight it in your company newsletter and intranet site. And if consumers are pleased with the service, pass on their messages. Integrate all these positive points into the company’s annual appraisal and benefits schemes.
James Le Roth, Eclipse Marketing
Jonathan Evans, Senior Business Systems Manager, TNT Express (www.tnt.com)
11. Apply a well-thought-out quality management procedure
I am amazed at the number of companies who purchase call recording solutions in order to remain “compliant” with security or FSA regulations, that do not have a structured call quality monitoring policy in place. It’s always one of those “we’ll get to it sometime” things that might not show itself as important, or possibly there are other larger fires to fight in your business. Others may baulk at the inordinate amount of time or effort to manage the process as well.
If you want to see an uplift in the overall customer experience, a well-thought-out quality management procedure can work wonders. It gives your agents something to strive for. It gives you insight into the core traits and skills that your agents need to interact with your customers, and the customers themselves will also have a more positive experience when doing business with you, giving your business that competitive advantage.
12. Get your contact centre involved in defining the criteria
Section the call into a number of points where you can create criteria which would satisfy the majority of customers. It could be something very tangible such as offering your name to the caller, or something more intangible or subjective, such as showing empathy on the call. People tend to have shied away from those criteria, but, I can assure you, they are measurable, and there are methods and tools to coach in those sort of skills.
Make sure you get your contact centre involved in defining the criteria. The last thing they need is another rule or policy that has been imposed on them. Having a team of people design the call quality procedure makes them advocates and champions to the cause.
13. Put the time into training and coaching
In my experience, the biggest issue where these quality monitoring processes fall down is a lack of thought put to training and coaching the skills the agents are going to need in order to succeed. Be sure you have spent some time with some experts who can show you how to coach these skills effectively into your operation when required.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of an application to assist your agents and your team leaders through the procedures. Introducing a call quality process will also introduce another load of work on your team leaders and agents. Be sure to look for applications which will mitigate this. In some cases, the technology pays for itself in the form of reclaimed time.
14. Include a feedback process
Lastly, make sure there is a feedback process in your operation to gauge customer satisfaction when interacting with your operation. There’s no point in assuming what your customers want in terms of call quality. A simple yet effective customer advocacy survey will help to validate the steps you are taking in your operation and will help identify where to fine tune the process.
Gene Reynolds, Senior Consultant, Corporate Communications (www.cc.net)
15. Define what good looks like
Call monitoring will not be effective unless you fully understand the reason for monitoring and what you are trying to measure or discover. Identifying what ‘good’ or ‘unsatisfactory’ looks like is essential for objective and effective call monitoring. ‘Good’ will be different depending on the reason for monitoring.
16. Get your scripts right
Ensure the wording in your scripts, or what your agents are expected to say to be compliant, is identified in your call monitoring forms and that your scoring reflects the common understanding of what would be classed as compliant or a breach.
17. Set up a call quality forum
An additional step of setting up a forum to reach a consensus on what good looks like will pay dividends. Ensuring that all stakeholders are agreed on what constitutes ‘good’ and capturing the criteria in your monitoring forms will support your call and quality monitoring staff in achieving the objectivity that is so essential. It is critical that measurement criteria are clearly defined and agreed and there is consensus on what ‘good’ looks like.
18. Set up call levelling sessions
The best way to do this is to set up call levelling sessions that are held on an ongoing basis. Take a random selection of calls. Get all stakeholders and, where possible, call monitoring staff, or managers if this is not feasible, and listen to the calls together. Score them as you go along.
After each call, discuss the scores for the criteria monitored and where there is a wide variation, the reasons. If all scores are within a narrow range you’re in luck, but more often than not, there will be a wide variation between the scores for many elements of the call, especially when you first start this process. Through the session the range of scores should narrow as the various stakeholders adjust their scoring and reach consensus. Over time, opinion and individuals involved will change so it is important to have regular call levelling sessions in order to maintain the consensus.
19. Use an independent call monitoring facility
Objective call monitoring can be difficult to achieve and maintain when all monitoring activity is carried out internally using your own people. There are companies who offer independent call monitoring services and can provide you with a truly objective view of the quality of your calls, whether they are compliant with the prevailing industry guidelines and regulations and in some cases benchmarking. To keep control of costs, look for companies who are happy to give you a one-off report covering a batch of calls, perhaps the same batch of calls used for your call levelling sessions.
20. Assign quality ownership
It sounds obvious, but if nobody wants to own the process, how can it be audited and calibrated to ensure it is effective and continues to improve and adapt to the business’s changing needs? Similarly, there should be a clearly documented process for monitoring and evaluating calls, and all agents and team managers should be trained and familiar with all areas of quality monitoring and how to get the most from the system they have in place.
21. Develop and maintain evaluation forms
Evaluation forms are at the heart of a good quality monitoring programme and when compiling them you need to ask yourself:
- Am I asking the right questions?
- Am I getting the required results? i.e. output which leads to a continuous coaching and development plan for my team
- Does the scoring mechanism allow agents to provide an ‘outstanding’ or ‘Wow factor’ service not just an ‘average’ or ‘satisfactory’ service?
22. Evaluation dispute process
Agents need to be given the opportunity to dispute their evaluation if they feel they are not happy with any aspect of it. The dispute process allows the agent the opportunity to have their evaluation re-evaluated by another person if they are unhappy with the result. This way, agents feel they have more control over their call evaluation, thus further empowering them to take ownership of their own quality
23. Agent synergy session
Synergy sessions involve groups of agents, team managers, CSMs and trainers listening to calls together to discuss call-handling techniques and evaluate the quality of the call. These sessions help reinforce quality standards and allow new and experienced agents to share experiences, best practice and provide a natural way to cross-skill agents from different departments. Recent studies have shown that agents attending regular synergy sessions achieve anywhere from 5% to 20% higher quality scores than the overall contact centre.
Brent Bischoff, Business Solutions Consultant, Business Systems (UK) Ltd (www.businesssystemsuk.co.uk)
24. Keep your call monitoring standardised
Keep your call monitoring standardised and consistent so you can build a steady, reliable picture of performance within your business.
25. Don’t waste time searching
Don’t waste time searching through your database for suitable calls – use a tool which allows you to find and recall calls quickly and easily.
26. Record calls in the background
Remove agents’ stress from call monitoring by using a solution which records quietly in the background, without influencing the behaviour of the individual under assessment. [In one call centre I went to the agents knew they were being monitored when the supervisor put her headset on – editor]
27. Allow self assessment
Gain “buy-in” from your teams by allowing agents to self-assess some of their work – make them feel their input is valued and that your team ethos is inclusive.
28. Make it a habit
Monitor calls on a regular basis to build a progressive picture of your team’s performance.
29. Assess the effectiveness of your training programmes
Use call quality monitoring to assess the effectiveness of your training programmes – listen in to verify that points taught in training sessions have been noted and put into practice. Call quality monitoring is also an easy means of assessing where gaps in knowledge or practice may exist – use this learning to build training solutions which close those gaps off.
Cameron Ross, Managing Director, Veritape (www.veritape.com)
30. Define what constitutes a quality customer interaction and what you are measuring
A typical example of best practise is a call answered in a timely and appropriate manner, dealt with swiftly and to the customer’s satisfaction, meeting service levels and KPIs.
The aim of quality monitoring from an operational point of view is to identify the calls failing to meet pre-defined standards and get to the root cause of why. You can then make informed decisions to make the process better, faster and quicker, e.g. implement or refine agent training and coaching initiatives to bridge skills gaps, correct broken internal processes, improve workforce scheduling, or perhaps alert other areas of the organisation that are having an impact.
To achieve this you need to be able to evaluate a representative sample of interactions. The smaller the sample, the less accurate your benchmark scoring will be and you will run the risk of making the wrong decisions.
Using modern recording and quality monitoring tools it is possible to capture not only the call itself but the activity that took place on the agent’s screen and score 100% of the interactions, giving an accurate and comprehensive view of agent, team, campaign and overall contact centre performance.
Craig Pumfrey, Director of Marketing Communications at NICE Systems (www.nice.com)
Thank you for sharing these are excellent tips! I also recommending using analytics to focus your call quality monitoring efforts – you’ll experience exponential value. You can not possibly listen to every call and only a very small percentage of calls are actually coachable and worth listening to. Are all your calls of equal value? Instead of recording a small percentage of calls and randomly listening to a few of them each month, I recommend focusing on the areas that you want to improve most by capturing all of your multi-channel customers interactions and using data and desktop screen analytics to pull information from employee desktop applications to associate valuable business information to each call. They are tracking information like: “Was the call put on hold?,” “Was the transferred?,” “What level of employee was it handled by?,” “Was it a VIP customer?,” “Was there a sale or no sale and, if so, what was the value of the sale?,” etc. Using this data, newer call quality monitoring systems can automatically deliver a sample of the high-value calls to managers and QA analysts for evaluation. By monitoring and evaluating these high-value calls, you’ll be able to rapidly identify issues and opportunities for improvement and make accurate business decisions about what to address and solve the issues.
Thanks for these great tips, especially tip #30, about defining what constitutes good customer interaction.
Another key issue that needs to be addressed in this context is poor cross-silo communication. As quality monitoring specialists, we often find that there is a lack of communication between different teams within the call centre organisation – like marketing, IVR, routing and other operational groups.
For instance, if a new promotion generates a wave of in-bound calls but the marketing department has failed to notify operations about it, the call centre can easily get caught out. Unable to stem the flood of callers, this is likely to result in dropped calls, long queues and poor call handling by overstretched agents. Likewise, we find that operational teams often implement changes without communicating these to all stakeholders within the company that will be affected.
Disjointed relations between departments can impact customer service severely. Therefore cross-silo communications should be encouraged and tightly managed.
If the monitoring is done in conjunction with coaching and development of your reps, it is essential that you make the experience upbeat and positive. When reps go into monitoring sessions thinking there is a disciplinary action coming at the end of it makes for a defensive minded rep.
Before going into areas the rep can improve on, look for their positives and make a big deal out of them. The rep will then be more open minded to the constructive criticism that follows. These sessions should be short, fun and positive. The old saying still rings true: You get more with honey than with vinagar.
Wonderful …I have been working as a call center agent in Aegis BPO Ltd,lko & preparing for Quality Analyst..this link & information shared helps a lot to me to understand what Qaulity is all about ….Thanx
Sheeba ,lucknow (india )
Firstly, some fantastic tips here, really useful.
I work as the Quality and Training Manager at my contact centre and I wondered if anybody had any advice on how I get my advisors to stop using negtive words?! Any fun games we could play with the underlying message to take these words of their calls. Things like basically, maybe, probably etc etc.
Any advice would be great.
Does anyone have examples of quality monitoring forms you use either for phone calls or electronic cases?
does anyone have a statistic of what “good” call monitoring looks like i.e. a % of calls that should be monitored ? My firm does 0.3% of incoming calls and this just doesnt feel right !
I work as a Quality Assurance-Trainer on the help desk. I am having difficulties with analysts following scripts. They are failing to verify contact information, address users by name, and offer further assistance. Also, their motivation and enthusiasm lacks.
What’s the best approach or coaching method to use? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
This is a very informative website, where I work we use an electronic version of call monitoring where ever call is automaticly recorded. My company makes B2B calls setting up appointments for our field sales force to attend. for monitoring purposes we select at random one call from each week to mark, we have a strict criteria of questions and information they are expected to obtain which would constitute a good call. The agents are expected to obtain 80% + they are financially rewarded for good quality and the lose bonus for poor quality. They soon ensure they are ticking all the boxes. We also have call leveling sessions and side by side coaching, but I find the side by side coaching it is not a true reflection of their capability as they are either wary of having their manager sat beside them and perform better or worst than they would in a normal day to day situation. I feel Call monitoring has improved the quality of our business and it is transparent if we have allegations from the field as we can verify the conversation as on occasions the customer has changed their mind by the time of the reps visit and disputes they even made an appointment. from this point it is also invaluable and the agents appreciate the benefits.
I found all the tips to be very useful. I am trying to create a coaching program for call monitoring deficiencies, does anyone have any ideas or programs that they currently have in place, thank you.
Excellent,its very useful…
Great thank you for the information, I am looking to review a quality system in place for a B2B call centre with 1000 agents. Does anyone have any good quality processes/measures that I can look at? currently we have a quality team who evaluate 0.50% of calls – I am keen to increase the support we offer without increasing the quality FTE’s.
Any advice would be appreciated. Also I am echoing Ian’s comments above what is a good % of calls to monitor?
Good Evening. . .
Thank you for all of your excellent suggestions!
Does anyone have a suggestion on how to evaluate the “Whole” call? I would like to find a balance between the necessary structure/ quantitative benchmarks and a measure of evaluating if the client was completely satisfied at the end of their call. I find often we are policing the agent and the QA metrics have become so picky that we lose track of the bigger picture. Was all of the clients needs met or exceeded? Was the client satisfied?
I would like to utilize many of our current QA metrics,while still empowering the agents to have a personally, have a little leeway, build/nurture client relationship, resulting in the client being satisfied. Thank you!
Hi, i am an QA in quality department of a call center. This article is very usefull for me.
I am a contact center operator, i ask is fair for my call to be re evaluated after disputing the score only to be found I was right the first time but hen opps! found something else to fail you on, it would seem when i talk to the client I have one chance why does the evaluator get to change the score after first or fith time it may have been disputed? How can this be fair
thank yOu so much for the input, i am a Quality Coach EveluatOr in a call center and this information is going to help a lot. Thank you again.
”Allow self awareness” . This is one aspect that is over looked in most call centers. Thats why most agents do not take full accountability for adherence to quality std. They feel that their input is not valued.
Can anyone give me any tips on how to remain calm and n
not get stressed during side by side monitoring
hi this artical really helpfull for me. i need some tips on enhancement of call calibration that means after the call calibration.
These are helpful tips. In our contact center, we evaluate(listen to the whole call) calls everyday to ensure if agents meet the quality standards and to know if customers are satisfied with the service provided. SOPs are critical part of our evaluation and we give high-value on this area. We always make sure that the issues identified and areas of opportunities are discussed to the agent or to the team so that it will be addressed and be resolved.
Hey there i am call centre quality assurer and trainer curently! can someone please give me companies names/website that can help me in learning more about the field? thank you very much for advise given above it so useful!
The tips were really usefull and good mostly in call monitoring parts and quality control of calls.
Good Tips team. Thank you so much for sharing the same…
Hello! I monitor calls everyday and found the tips useful. Data collection is an important part of quality monitoring and I thinks its gonna be great if someone can post a excel monitoring sheet with automated formulaes
thanks alot for your effort and this great information, i am a quality supervisor am looking how can i make the agents feel that quality an coaching is healthy it isnot a police department, also i need a form to fill it in order to count the coaching sessions beyound the KPIs in order to inform the employees that there is no coaching for ever and there is a displinary actions should be taken.
call monitoring helps quality production of the company………… thats what i believe
Hi Everyone- These tips are very true and effective.
Monitoring & feedback is the most important part and process while evaluating calls,
Someone wanted to know how to evaluate complete call: So in order to evaluate complete call
1st we should have QA Form which should includes different fields related to call parts,ex: Opening to the end or call closing.
Agents should start the call with appropriate greeting and should answer the call ASAP.
Then it comes to the call body: where communication effectiveness, customer service or selling skills comes in like : sounding energetic, grammatical, communication skills, probing for sales etc,
Disclosing of the information should be correct as well.
In the end comes: Call closing where should end up the call by following set protocols.
Like offering further assistance or standard ending script.
Feedback: After monitoring a specific call, if an agent is lacking on different things or doing mistakes. There should be a proper procedure of delivering Feedback.
1st we should appreciate the agent in a friendly way that he or she is doing great job on the calls, and share good things in there calls, and then tell them that these things you are missing and if add them in your pitch it can be more better, do not just tell them things they are missing also share with them how they can improve them, on top of it make them listen some Golden Calls so they can have better understanding.
After feedback have them set future action plan and make sure they follow that by reminding them everyday Via e mails or by just going to them about there action plan.
Results and improvement will be there,if not fast but slowly slowly you will be able to see the difference.
I’ve been in an quality analyst role for 3 years, I am now being asked to take calls 6 hours per week to “legitimize” my position. Is this common practice? I have also been a customer service representative for that same department.
Thanks for the input. Above all effective monitoring and accurate feedback must be followed up with a great action plan. Involving agents would normally be done and as an analyst aside from checking the quality of calls acting as a safety blanket or doing preventive action will also help make quality calls consistently.
Well first let ma ask if you do analyst job for the same company for 3 years? if yes then you are a bonafide QA however if you are in a new organization this is a practice that is commonly done to new hire externals. Think of it as a
commencement exercise anyway to be effective as QA is to be in depth with product knowledge.
How many people are needed to control the call quality?
We are introducing a monitoring officer to our organisation and I wonder if anyone has a current Job Description I could have a look at
Great tips thank you. I have a question, it is necessary to randomize the sample at the associate level? meaning, try to eliminate the quality associate chance to “choose” the call?
Going for interview for monitoring analyst tomorrow. BRILLIANT SITE AND TIPS.
i have been working as a Quality assurance in a tracking company,i have facing some issue related my contact center agent is did not like me, bcz they are agent and i m in QA, actually i was agent 1 year ago, recently my seniors appoint me in QA department, so they feel professional jealousy, dnt know why, i tried to maintain a good relation with them, but they dont want accept me as a Quality supervisor, please let me know what should i do, i will be very thank full to you,,
My work is base on agents performance, always looking for a continuis improvement. one really usefull tip is classify your agentes on levels. for example a great agent could be an A agent, a good agent B agent, regular agent C agent, bad agent D agent. This can help you give a direction to your trainings, dont waste time tring to become a “D” on an “a”. Help the A to keep his numbers and the “B” to become “A”
I have been working as a QA. There is constant friction between Quality and operations which stems from the fact that Operation is only for driving numbers where as the entire process improvement and process stability depends on efficiency of quality. Is it always like this across all centers? Am i wrong in guessing that role of Quality is to audit calls and provide appropriate feedback to operations so that they come up with plans (of-course with support from quality and training) for overall process improvement.
It’s true that sometimes Operations are focused on productivity metrics. I agree that the role of quality is to audit calls and provide feedback. I think it is a good idea to find out whether improved productivity (more calls taken) has resulted in the same quality standard or whether more calls result in decreased quality. Presenting the results that identify why you are giving recommendations is a great way to reduce friction.
I’m working now as a QualityAnalyst in an international company and any suggestions of how can i put rules for all the agentsto get the customer obssessed rate
’m working now as a QualityAnalyst in an international company and any suggestions of how can i put rules for all the agentsto get the customer obssessed rate
Some of these monitoring ideas for quality ect have the opposite effect on morale,for the call centre agent is all geared to tripping the agent up and getting him sacked in the call centre I work in,never known Team Leaders to be so nuts about stats and quality
I am working with a service provider company as a quality analyst. All these tips are really helpful
I’m in traning as QA. These tips are very useful to me
I have done Quality Assurance for over 5 years now, and have been in call centres for over 17 years. And so much to learn still:-))
Some aspects I am sure of though:
— Quality Assessment, and especially Coaching and Feedback must be balanced, more than anything else. Mention the improvements needed, as well as those aspects adhered to successfully.
— Integrity. Personal as well as professionally. I have Agent colleagues who beg for me to QA them, because they know I am fair. Strict, fair and objective.
— I do not cut corners at all. If there are any hitches along the way, I note this in the QA feedback.
— I make it clear to my Agent colleagues that I do not know everything. I am there to learn, much as they are.
— Even as I am writing this, I have colleagues from another department asking me excitedly when I am going to “QA” them.
I am humbled by my experiences, and buoyed by the experience I have gained, and absolutely excited about what there is still to learn!
Never go out to anyone. Your gains will be short-termed, trust me.
ERRATA : Never go out to gun for anyone. Your gains will be short-term, trust me.
I really learnt a-lot from all the training lessons given and appreciate the good work.Its been really helpful as a new call center supervisor
Thank you some much for this information and it will help me a lot.