There has been a visible improvement in results since the implementation of the new CQA program. Results are positive, with 84% of CQA evaluations exceeding and meeting expectations. “The results are truly indicative of the perception of the customer interaction with our employees as well as our employee’s ability to provide First Call Resolution! I recommend the CQA program that SQM offers!” says Shantell Edwards, a call center team manager.
After implementing the new CQA Program, our end-of-year VoC improved in the following areas: world-class call results showed a 3 point improvement, call resolution improved from 93% to 95%, which increased the department’s FCR from 82% to 85%. This improvement was made within 6 months. Most of the improvement was driven by the top performing agents in the first and second quartile, improving by 7% points. The last quartile, as expected, showed a small decline. The CQA program further reinforced the importance of call resolution to our agents.
Our call center has been certified by SQM as a world-class FCR performing call center for the last five years. The criteria to be certified as a world-class FCR performing call center is your FCR rate must be 80% or greater. Of the 500 call centers SQM measures, only 5% of their clients perform at the world-class FCR standard of 80%.
407 ETR Company Description
407 ETR is the world’s first all-electronic toll road of its kind, and from the day it was opened up to the present day, it continues to fulfill its mission of relieving traffic on local highways and roads. Drivers take about 380,000 trips on the highway each workday. Customers tell 407 ETR that the number one reason they use the highway is to save time. Customers also report that they feel they make a good choice in using 407 ETR.
We recognized that to elevate 407 ETR to a World Class Call Center status, reduce operating expenses, and implement independent evaluation of our customer service interactions’ quality, there was a necessity to implement the Call Quality Assurance (CQA) best practice program.
Over the past 11 years, SQM has offered us invaluable feedback, benchmarking, and workshops, which provided 407 ETR employees with the tools to continuously improve our Voice of the Customer (VoC) results. To raise our standards, we looked at where we were, where we desired to be, and what actions we would need to get there. From an efficiency and budget perspective, it was easy to see why partnering with SQM would benefit us.
First and foremost, our mission was to increase Csat and improve FCR. It was also important that we balanced customer feedback with our agents’ work and provided an unbiased assessment of our work and compliance with our processes. To inspire employees daily to be committed to demonstrating company values, it is necessary to align the CQA program to our company values.
We compared the cost per survey and QA evaluations conducted internally versus by SQM and discovered a significant saving per CQA if SQM conducted the evaluations. This budgetary saving allowed us to explore further how we would prepare such a substantial change in moving from an internal to an external focus that would impact our agents, team managers, application audits and administration, training, and more.
Best Practices Used
A call list of customers who have called the call center is compiled and sent to SQM daily. Customers are surveyed within one day of their call to the call center. The SQM call quality evaluator reviews customer survey ratings, listens to the customer feedback and to the recording of the interaction between the agent and customer, and reviews screen captures to assess call compliance. The CQA evaluation form embeds customer survey results, customer audio feedback, and call compliance results. An agent has access to view VoC feedback, call compliance metrics, and links to the audio. Comments provided by the evaluator are very detailed. This is viewed positively both from a team manager’s perspective, as it helps them prepare for coaching sessions, and from the agent’s perspective, who views the evaluator comments in mySQM™ FCR Insights reporting tool.
A new evaluation form was created internally with Customer Service and SQM Group. The CQA evaluation form has 60 of the possible 100 points based on 3 parts of the customer surveys conducted by SQM to generate the score (30 for call resolution, 15 for Agent Csat, 15 for customer Continue to Use). The other 40 points are allocated for the call compliance metrics (broken down as 65% customer focus and 35% organization focus).
For the first month, we ran the new program alongside the old program, which provided valuable insights into the new program’s effectiveness. This also allowed us to determine the new program’s impact, refine the form and guidelines developed, and make any changes without negatively impacting our customers and employees.
The Customer Service Department, Applications Audits and Administration (previously responsible for call quality evaluations), and SQM’s Development Team created a combined program and form to further assist Agents in achieving their world-class certification goal through the new Call Quality Assurance program. Teamwork and collaboration were imperative in the planning stages with SQM’s team, our internal CQA team manager, the customer service manager, our training department manager, and the manager of technical services. This teamwork and collaboration resulted in developing the new CQA program, cultivating agent growth, and fostering agent development.
Our 407 ETR training facilitator travelled to SQM to conduct all necessary training for the SQM team of call quality evaluators, furthering our strength in a partnered endeavour. Ongoing calibration sessions were conducted to ensure consistency in scoring and still continue to take place today.
Through the change, supporting agents was an absolute necessity and number one on our list of priorities. A communication plan was developed, providing frequent small updates about the new program to allow our employees to absorb the information, ask questions, and incorporate the change.
Our performance improvement plan was reviewed to establish an accurate three-month rolling trend for the new call quality standards and Agent Csat. The new call quality three-month trend began four months following the new CQA program’s implementation, providing employees with the opportunity to get fully acquainted and comfortable with the new program.
There are critical components that comprise customer interactions that significantly impact our customers and organization and, in turn, FCR, such as failure to adhere to policies and workflows. The new CQA process includes a critical component section, and should a critical component be missed; the CQA evaluation receives a score of zero. This integral piece of the evaluation provides us with common themes where opportunities for improvement have been successfully identified. This information has enabled us to continuously work toward implementing changes so that agents continue their drive to own the call and create a world-class experience. Agents have online access to results immediately once a call quality evaluation is complete. The customer survey is conducted and then reviewed by a dedicated CQA evaluator. Once evaluated, it is available in the mySQM™ FCR Insights reporting tool and can be viewed by the agent. Having the ability to view feedback right away provides the agents with an understanding of what they are doing to create a positive customer experience. It also encourages the agents to continue their behavior and continue to learn what they can do differently in the future to create that memorable customer experience while following appropriate policies and procedures. Essentially, it creates a desire to exceed the purpose of one’s job and responsibilities.
It is very important that regular employee feedback is provided from agents on the CQA program. Focus groups were conducted to learn how agents viewed the new CQA Program and their recommendations for continuously improving the program. When employees feel they have been listened to, have a say in the program, and have contributed to improving the program, they believe in the program and its benefits to them. This keeps the agent engaged and working to strive for world-class results. A connection is made between what a customer is told and its completion. Previously, a call could be scored 100% by the customer, but processes may not have been followed through in reality. This current process ensures all calls are completed within recommended standards. Hearing such feedback reaffirms our agent’s place’s significant importance on the desire to own the call. By giving the customer survey the weight of 60% of the CQA score, the new call quality program serves as an additional tool that emphasizes the importance of ensuring that our customers receive the best customer service that our agents can provide. This supports our desire for agents to create a world-class experience.
SQM Awards Received
Call Center World Class FCR Certification (Commercial): 2016 - 2020
Best Practices - Customer Quality Assurance: 2016 - 2020