SQM Group's research shows that “95% of call centers use call monitoring and coaching to improve Quality Assurance (QA) scores and customer satisfaction (Csat)”. Yet, very few call center managers can empirically prove that they improved their call center Csat due to their QA practices. Furthermore, our research shows that only “17% of agents believe their call center quality assurance efforts positively impact Csat”.
25 Tips to Improve QA Score
So, we thought it would be helpful to share call center quality assurance tips for improving your QA Scores and customer satisfaction:
1. Develop a Clear Quality Assurance Strategy
The starting point for an effective and efficient QA program is to have a clear QA strategy. A QA strategy includes a good understanding of what are the goals you want to achieve and allocating the necessary resources to achieve them. Without a QA strategy plan, you will be less likely to succeed.
After determining your QA strategy goals, you must decide on the key performance indicators (KPIs) and behaviors you want to include on the QA evaluation form supporting your strategic goals. You will also need to define what a good quality score is for your call centers and how to measure, benchmark, track, and create agent accountability. Furthermore, it would help if you decided how often you will conduct QA evaluations, provide coaching and develop action plans to improve performance.
2. Quality Assurance Function Ownership
Once the QA strategy has been developed and approved, you are ready to assign ownership to manage the QA function. If possible, a good practice is to have the most successful or one of the top call center managers for QA scores assigned to managing the call center QA function. Having someone specifically in charge of the QA function will help ensure the department will operate effectively and efficiently.
3. Involve Employees in the Development of the QA Program
Involve your top QA-performing supervisors and agents in the development of the strategic goals and determining KPIs, behaviors to be evaluated on the QA form, how many QA evaluations per month per agent, and the number of agent coaching sessions. Agent and supervisor input for the QA function enhances the likelihood that other agents and supervisors will buy into the QA purpose and help make the QA program successful.
4. Explain QA Program During Agent Onboarding
For new hire agents, onboard training includes a module for describing the details of the QA program. The QA module can be delivered online or by a QA evaluator, trainer, or manager in a classroom environment to ensure that new-hire agents understand how the QA program works and its implication for them.
5. Define the KPIs Required and How They Will Be Measured
Define KPIs and how a call center QA team will measure call quality. The standards, KPIs, and scorecards should be aligned with the company's strategic business goals. For example, at SQM, we highly recommend for the QA evaluation that customers assess their experience for KPIs such as call resolution, satisfaction with the agent, and whether it was a positive CX. The customer assessment can be done by conducting post-call surveys. In addition, the CX KPIs should have higher weighting for importance than call compliance call behavior attributes on the agent scorecard.
6. Determine QA Evaluation Sample Size Required
To ensure an accurate assessment of an agent's QA score performance, evaluate an appropriate sample size. SQM Group's research shows that for the call center industry, calls monitored per agent per month, 60% of call centers evaluate five or more calls. Furthermore, “71% of call centers say they coach an agent on four or more calls that have been QA evaluated”.
Using the right sample size helps provides insightful and actionable QA evaluation feedback that a supervisor can use to coach an agent to improve quality scores. If the sample size is too big, it can be overwhelming, or if it is too small, the agent might feel that it is not reflective of their QA performance.
7. Create a QA Coaching Schedule and Stick to It
Most agents feel they do not get enough supervisor coaching sessions, and many of them feel that their supervisor can not help them improve customer satisfaction. Also, it is common for coaching sessions to be canceled because there are not enough agents to answer and handle calls. What agents want is for the supervisor to create a QA coaching schedule and stick to it.
8. Invest in Call Quality Monitoring Software
It's essential to determine the right call quality monitoring software and to implement them. Below are the indispensable software required for your QA program to work effectively and efficiently for evaluating calls.
Call Recording software records a voice conversation over an audio source. At SQM, we recommend that 100% of calls are recorded. Caller calls can be recorded and stored as a digital file to be transcripted or listened to for playback purposes. Calls recorded are used for conducting QA evaluations, agent coaching, and training.
Text Analytics software is a machine learning technique that automatically extracts valuable insights from unstructured text data. For example, call centers use text analytics to increase the understanding of the customer experience by using text analytics for specific words or phrases to discover satisfaction and dissatisfaction levels. In addition, text analytics can provide insights into customer sentiment and experience trends.
Speech and AI Analytics software analyzes call recordings or live customer calls using speech recognition for quality assurance evaluations. Also, the software is used to identify selling opportunities and track regulatory compliance. Speech and AI analytics software identifies words and analyzes audio patterns to detect customer sentiments, emotions, and stress in a caller's voice.
Customer Service QA software brings telephony calls, QA, and post-call survey data into fully integrated software for managing customer service data. The customer service QA software tool assists call center agents, and managers in tracking, benchmarking, and improving FCR, Csat, NPS, QA scores, costs, and customer service.
9. Utilize Calls That Achieved High QA Scores for Storytelling Coaching
The use of calls that achieved a high QA Score or Csat for storytelling has a proven track record for helping supervisors coach agents to improve customer service and QA Score performance.
Storytelling assists supervisors in delivering a message in a way that coaches, engages, and inspires agents and helps them understand what great customer service looks like. Excellent customer service storytelling is a communication method to gain agent buy-in. Compelling storytelling can capture agents' hearts and minds to deliver the intended customer service.
10. Document Your QA Expectations and Criteria
To ensure your agents buy into your QA program, you must document and communicate your QA expectations and criteria to all stakeholders. The documentation gives agents an understanding of what is expected of them to achieve a high QA score and makes the QA program more transparent and fair.
11. Provide Great Scripts for Handling Calls
In a call center environment, the agent's language significantly impacts delivering great Csat. When Csat improves, the agent's language in handling calls is the primary source of customer service improvement. A high-performing Csat agent will utilize the right words and phrases for the entire call to deliver a great CX.
The Top 25 call-handling words and phrases are ranked for positive impact to assist agents in delivering excellent customer service. It is essential to emphasize that all 25 words and phrases are important, and each one of the words and phrases can, by themselves, help an agent deliver great Csat. However, it's vital to stress that call resolution words and phrases are essential for agents to drive great Csat.
12. Allow Agents to Dispute QA Evaluation Scores
If an agent feels that QA evaluation is unfair or inaccurate, they must be able to dispute the QA evaluation score based on a predefined QA dispute process. The QA dispute must be resolved within a couple of business days, and, if necessary, conduct another QA evaluation to replace an unfair or inaccurate QA evaluation.
13. Recognize Your Agents for High or Improvement in QA Scores & Csat
Our experience has been that recognizing agents for high QA scores and Csat is one of the best practices for improving first call resolution and customer service. However, in many cases, agents feel unrecognized for achieving high QA scores and Csat. At SQM, we believe the Regence BlueCross BlueShield recognition program to be a best practice for recognizing agents for their customer service performance. Regence BlueCross BlueShield's agent recognition program is called Service Hero.
The Service Hero recognition program is the company's most successful and longest-running recognition program. The agent service hero program recognizes the agents who provide exemplary customer service. C-level executives determine the agent Service Heroes and give senior executives great insights into CX trying to resolve complex healthcare calls.
14. Use Gamification to Motivate Agents to Improve QA Scores
Gamification enhances the motivation of agents to improve their QA scores and makes the working environment more fun. As a result, higher QA scores and CX behaviors become an ingrained part of the culture and experience within the call center. Adding contests and recognition creates motivated agents that propel your call center to improve QA scores and provide great CX. Agents have more opportunities to use gamification the more world-class calls and high-quality assurance scores they achieve.
For example, an agent can receive additional points from a world-class Csat call or a high-quality assurance score. In addition, many call centers use gamification as part of their training and coaching design. This allows agents to practice, learn by trial and error, receive feedback and recognition, and be coached to improve customer service delivery.
15. Use 360-Degree Feeback to Do the Coaching
360-Degree Feedback lets agents and supervisors get a fuller picture of a CX interacting with a call center. Furthermore, 360-Degree Feedback widens the lens and reduces supervisor bias, providing a clearer picture of an agent's strengths and weaknesses for the supervisor coaching agents to improve CX.
In addition, 360-Degree Feedback is a method for conducting a customer service QA review for agents to understand their strengths and weaknesses based on evaluating a specific call from multi-raters (e.g., customers, QA evaluators, and artificial intelligence) feedback.
For 360-Degree Feedback using multi-raters to be effective, all raters and technology need to assess the same call from different perspectives. For example, multi-rater feedback assessment of the same call includes conducting post-call surveys to receive customer rater feedback about their CX, artificial intelligence for sentiment analysis, and QA evaluator rater to assess call compliance captured in a CX management software.
16. 1:1 Agent Coaching Sessions Commitment
Conducting one-on-one (1:1) agent coaching sessions consistently is one of the best ways to improve performance and increase Csat. Regular coaching sessions help agents improve their performance and create a stronger relationship between that agent and their supervisors. However, SQM's research shows that “it is common for 1:1 coaching sessions to be canceled”.
A supervisor must conduct the agent coaching one-on-one and privately to avoid embarrassment and ensure confidentiality. Also, coach all agents, not just those with poor performance. In addition, coach the coach on how they can provide better 1:1 coaching sessions.
17. Share QA Scores and Data on an Agent Dashboard
A call center dashboard provides data visualization reporting that displays KPIs, QA scores, and metrics to assist supervisors and agents in monitoring and improving their performance. In addition, the dashboard data visualization is intended to make it easy to understand performance, thereby reducing the time needed to absorb the data to improve performance.
Furthermore, a dashboard is designed to show KPIs trends, benchmarks, and problem areas, allowing users to understand customer service QA strengths and weaknesses quickly. Moreover, it can provide action alerts to address service recovery and agent coaching opportunities.
18. Agents Do Self-Assessment QA Scoring
Before the supervisor's QA coaching session, the agent should have the opportunity to review the QA evaluation, customer survey data, and call recordings (if available) for them to conduct a QA self-assessment.
Having the agent do a self-assessment can help enhance the coaching session because the gap in the difference in the QA score can be discussed and rectified. In addition, encourage agents to conduct a self-assessment QA scoring to enhance the QA coaching session and avoid the top-down QA scoring assessment process.
19. Positive, Negative, and Positive Coaching Feedback Approach
Don't start the QA coaching session with negative feedback, even if it is constructive feedback. Instead, using a positive-negative-positive approach, sometimes described as the sandwich, is an effective way to ensure agents are emotionally ready to receive the supervisor's feedback for improving performance and increasing QA scores.
It is essential to start the QA coaching session with positive feedback about something that went well on the customer's call. Starting with positive feedback will put the agent at ease to receive negative or constructive feedback. Then, at the end of the coaching session, provide more positive feedback about the areas they have improved on and how far they have come. Focusing on what the agents are good at recognizes their accomplishments. In addition, closing on positive feedback will help keep the agents motivated to improve their performance.
20. Use Customer Feeback to Do the Agent Coaching
One of the most powerful ways to conduct agent coaching is to use customer feedback so they can learn directly from the customer's perspective. At a QA coaching session, a supervisor should use compiled CX data from a post-call survey, such as ratings, verbatim text feedback from the customer satisfaction surveys, and call recordings.
During a QA coaching session, the supervisor must share positive CX feedback in addition to negative CX feedback. Sharing positive and negative CX feedback ensures that an agent will be more open to learning from a customer's perspective versus focusing on only the negative feedback.
21. Conduct Call Calibrations to Ensure QA Scoring Consistently
Call calibration is an essential business practice to ensure managers, supervisors, and QA evaluators can consistently assess agents' customer quality assurance performance. In addition, call calibration aims to ensure all QA evaluators use the same standards and interpret them for determining agent CQA score performance. Therefore, QA evaluators must meet regularly to conduct call calibration sessions to ensure QA scoring consistency and measure the right things.
22. Agent Does Self-Coaching
SQM's research shows that “40% of calls where FCR was not achieved was an agent will issue”. In many cases, some of the best QA coaching for an agent is self-discovery. Agent self-coaching includes reviewing post-call surveys, telephony, and quality assurance data for determining action alerts for coaching opportunities identified on the dashboard so agents can self-coach to improve QA scores and CX.
23. Use a Customer Quality Assurance Evaluation Form
What makes customer QA (sometimes called CQA) unique is for the same call, the CQA method evaluates an agent using a post-call customer survey and call compliance metrics to assess call quality. Therefore, CQA is considered a holistic view of customer interaction using a call center.
When a call center's primary goal is to improve customer experience, they tend to be more interested in utilizing a CQA evaluation form method. The main reason is that customer service QA uses a 360-degree multi-rater approach (e.g., customers, QA evaluators, and artificial intelligence) to measure customer service, provide agent feedback and coaching, and proven track record for improving CX.
24. Invest More Time in Training and Coaching
When there is high call center turnover, there is a rush to get the new hires on the phone, and it is common for companies to shorten the necessary training and coaching to answer customer calls.
Without the necessary training and coaching, you are setting up new agents for failure, you will have higher customer dissatisfaction, and more likely the agent will quit. A good rule of thumb is the supervisor invests 50% or more of their time coaching agents. In addition, agents receive 2 to 4 days of training annually in personal development, technical, and customer service improvement areas.
25. Define Call Handling Behaviours That Are Important
When you train agents on call handling behaviors that are important to the call center, make sure you clearly define them and the expectation for using them on calls. For example, if you want your agents to show customer empathy, your call handling behaviors script standards must be clear about what to say to customers. Furthermore, provide customers with specific examples of how to show customer empathy to different situations or call types.
mySQM™ Customer Service QA Software
Explore our 7-day free demo trial! See how our customer service QA software platform, built for call center supervisors and agents, effectively monitors and makes it easy to understand performance while reducing the time needed to absorb the data to improve FCR and CX.
Companies that have participated in our Call Center Benchmarks Study can use their own data for the demo trial.