Quality Assurance Best Practice for Improving CX
Author: Mike Desmarais, Founder & CEO, SQM Group
For most organizations, the primary objective of their quality assurance (QA) program is to improve the customer service experience. Yet, very few can say or factually prove that their First Call Resolution (FCR) or customer satisfaction (Csat) has improved as a result of their QA practices. In fact, most contact center managers mistakenly assume that their quality assurance best practice program is helping to achieve or improve FCR and Csat performance. The reality, in many cases, is customers do not view the call in the same light as the person who is evaluating the call.
Most QA practices typically focus on metrics that are important to the contact center, such as caller verification, adherence to script, accuracy of information provided to customer, screen navigation, tracking of sales initiatives and treatment of customer. Additionally, calls are either scored with equal importance placed on each metric used or, more often, weighted on metrics that are more important to the organization than the customer. A CSR’s peer, supervisor or a QA team member listens to the calls and evaluates the customer’s experience. Regardless of the metrics used or the person who conducts the QA evaluation, what remains clear is that a contact center employee is judging the customer’s experience, not the customer.
No matter which metrics are used, or who conducts the evaluation, there is very little correlation between QA ratings and FCR ratings. SQM’s customer research shows that QA evaluations have a positive impact on FCR ratings for only 19% of CSRs. In other words, for 81% of CSRs, QA evaluations do not have a positive impact on FCR ratings. The reasons why there is a low correlation between QA and FCR ratings are because the customer is not the judge and traditional QA metrics are not primarily focused on call resolution. Having the QA evaluation form more focused on call resolution can help the contact center’s FCR performance. However, for a QA program to have more of an FCR impact it must truly measure the customer’s experience by letting the customer be the judge.
From a CSR perspective, the contact center industry QA practices are broken. In fact, SQM’s research shows that only 16% of CSRs believe that their contact center’s QA program is assisting them in helping resolve calls. Of all the contact center practices that SQM measures from a CSR perspective, current QA practices have one of the lowest levels of CSR satisfaction for helping them resolve calls. The majority of CSRs that SQM surveys, or has conducted QA focus groups with, want to see their QA program improved so that it properly evaluates the call on areas that are important to the customer.
Customer Quality Assurance (CQA) is an approach to QA that combines call compliance data judged by a QA evaluator and the customer’s opinion gathered through a post-call survey of the service they received from the contact center. CQA is the best practice for improving the impact of call monitoring on the contact center’s FCR performance. The CQA evaluation is a process that uses both VoC and call compliance information to assess call quality. Very few contact centers in North America actually use this type of process to evaluate call quality.
The few contact centers that have implemented CQA as a business practice for monitoring calls have experienced higher FCR, Esat and Csat performance. SQM has found that CQA is one of the best practices for improving FCR, Esat and Csat performance. If properly implemented, a contact center can expect an FCR increase of up to 5% and a 5% to 20% increase in Esat with their QA practices. Very few other initiatives have provided such performance improvement increases.
CQA uses VoC to judge call quality to enhance, not replace, the established call monitoring process. The customer survey information alone cannot replace the entire existing QA process because there are some contact center metrics that the customer simply cannot judge (e.g., screen navigation, policy compliance and accuracy of information). Thus, it is still necessary for the contact center monitoring team to evaluate these metrics. The most effective CQA program for the contact center is a two-part process that blends external with internal call evaluations.
The external evaluation determines if the customer’s needs are met and is judged by the only person who can judge the customer’s experience, the customer. CQA uses post-call phone survey customer feedback collected by an independent third-party survey vendor or by in-house surveys to ensure that the customer’s needs are being met. The survey focuses on call quality metrics that the customer can judge, such as their satisfaction with the CSR and whether their call was resolved.
The internal evaluation examines if the needs of the organization are met and is judged by the contact center’s monitoring team through a slimmed-down version of current industry call monitoring practices. The organization focuses on metrics that the customer cannot judge such as caller identification, screen navigation, policy compliance, accuracy of information and call handling (e.g., hold, transfer, KMT, note-taking and wrap-up).
The determination of the calls to be assessed by the CQA evaluation process is based on customers who have called the contact center and who have completed a survey. Customer surveys should be conducted on a random basis. When the customer completes a survey, the call can be evaluated for call compliance.
More details can be found in SQM’s book:
The purpose of this book, One Contact Resolution 2nd Edition, is to help contact center managers use best practices for improving customer experience.