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Customer Quality Assurance (CQA): Why it Works for Improving Customer Experience

Customer Quality Assurance

Many contact center managers believe their quality assurance (QA) program improves their organization’s customer experience (CX). For most organizations, the primary objective of their QA program is to improve the CX, yet, very few organizations can substantiate improvements as a result of traditional QA practices.

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 soft skills, such as the treatment of the customer or even if the call was resolved, from an internal perspective. Calls are scored with equal importance placed on each metric used or weighted on metrics that the organization has judged to be important as a measurement of the CX. An employee, such as a supervisor or a QA team member listens to the calls and evaluates the customer’s experience from an organization, or an internal perspective. Regardless of the metrics used or the person who conducts the QA evaluation, what remains clear is a contact center employee is judging the customer’s experience, not the customer.

What is CQA?

What is CQA and How is it Different from Traditional QA?

CQA is an approach to QA that combines call compliance data judged by an evaluator with 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 resolution performance as it allows the customer to determine if contact resolution has taken place, not the organization. The reason why this is so important is if the customer identifies that resolution has not taken place, for the average contact center, 65% of customers will contact the organization again, driving repeat contacts, reducing customer satisfaction, and increasing operating costs.

The CQA evaluation is a process that uses both voice of the customer (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. CQA is based on the premise of letting the customer be the judge of their own experience when contacting an organization and is one of the best practices for driving improvements in CX performance.

There is very little correlation between traditional QA ratings and First Call Resolution (FCR) ratings 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.

Benefits & Cost Savings of Implementing CQA

Here are just some of the benefits of implementing CQA:

  • Organizations using CQA as a business practice for monitoring calls have experienced higher CX performance.
  • If properly implemented, a contact center can expect an FCR increase of up to 5% and a 5% to 20% increase in Employee Satisfaction (Esat) with their QA practices. For every 1% improvement in FCR, there is a 1-5% improvement in Esat.
  • On average, organizations that implement CQA experience a 3% improvement in FCR in the first year, which equates to $858,000 annual savings.
  • As the customer judges contact resolution and customer satisfaction, which inherently judges the soft skills side of compliance, QA evaluation time is shortened as there is less to review, which provides operational costs savings.
  • Uses only calls that have been surveyed, which reduces the time that evaluators use to search for calls to review, also providing operational costs savings.
  • The subjectivity of QA is removed from the evaluators’ role, as they are not judging resolution, customer satisfaction. This also increases CSR buy-in to the program.
  • The CQA evaluation form allocated towards the customer’s experience sends the message to CSRs that the customer’s experience is what really matters in the CQA evaluation program and to the organization

Customer Opinion

How to Put the Voice of the Customer in Quality Assurance

CQA uses VoC data 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., compliance, the 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 VoC evaluation with internal call evaluations. Each CSR receives a CQA evaluation report that consists of both the customer survey and the call compliance results for the same call. As shown below, the CQA scoring is a total of 100 points, comprised of:

  • 60 points available based on customer survey results and 40 points available based on call compliance metrics.
  • Of the 40 points allocated for call compliance metrics, 75% are customer focused and 25% are organization focused.
  • CQA point allocation is 90% skewed towards customer metrics (i.e., 60% from the customer survey metrics and 30% from call compliance metrics).
  • Having 90% of the CQA evaluation form allocated towards the customer’s experience sends the message to CSRs that the customer’s experience is what really matters in the CQA evaluation program and to the organization.


Customer Quality Assurance Program

The internal evaluation (QA) examines whether the needs of the organization are met and is judged by the contact center’s monitoring team through a slimmed-down version of the industry’s current 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 external evaluation (VoC) 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 the customer’s needs are being met. 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.

Things to Consider

When collecting VoC feedback, the survey should focus on quality metrics that the customer can judge, such as their satisfaction with the CSR and whether their call was resolved. A quality surveying program collects surveys in a random manner throughout the month, with equal distribution of surveys throughout the month to measure agent behavior. A minimum of 5 surveys per agent per month are collected so that there is enough of a sample to conduct CQA from.

When creating the CQA form, organizations will try to include soft skills such as CSR approach, the right tone, expressing empathy within the CQA form. Remember to let the customer be the judge of those attributes as if they are not appropriately demonstrated from the customer perspective, the customer will identify that within their customer satisfaction scores.

Consider critical errors as part of the point allocation. There may be metrics within call compliance that are required by law or regulations that must be done within every call. If a CSR fails in demonstrating that requirement, they receive a zero for their entire call. If it’s behavior that puts the organization at risk, it should have the consequences tied to it.

Implement a pilot project and run your current QA program alongside the new CQA program to allow for calibration and review. Use improvements in contact resolution and CSR Csat at the agent level and FCR at the organization level to identify if the new CQA program is working to drive improvements in your CX.

What is CQA?

Collecting VoC Feedback Data

When collecting VoC feedback, the survey should focus on quality metrics that the customer can judge, such as their satisfaction with the CSR and whether their call was resolved.

At SQM, we specialize in surveying and analyzing customer contact channels and end-to-end customer journey experiences to assist organizations with understanding, conceptualizing, and visualizing VoC data for any audience. At the heart of SQM’s research capabilities is the mySQM™ FCR Insights software for capturing, analyzing, reporting, and actioning customer and employee experiences. So, if you are struggling to capture VoC feedback from multiple survey methods and want to receive simple, flexible, and consolidated reporting that is actionable for improving CX, SQM can provide you with the solutions that you need!

To learn how CQA can help you improve your organizations’ CX performance, view our on-demand webinar at any time, or contact us and we will show you how CQA works! Interested in learning more CX Best Practices, register for our upcoming webinars today!  


About The Author

Mike DesmaraisMike Desmarais, MBA, is the founder and CEO of SQM Group, an organization dedicated to helping call center clients improve FCR. Mike is considered an FCR Expert and has a proven track record for helping leading North American call centers improve FCR. Mike is the inventor of VoC First Call Resolution measurement and has written five thought-provoking call center FCR books and dozens of FCR blog articles