Have you ever dialed a company's customer service line and heard the familiar disclaimer, "This call may be recorded and monitored for quality assurance purposes ... "? It’s a very common message we've all encountered at one point or another. But what makes all the difference in quality assurance monitoring is what companies do with their recordings.
Most of the time, companies are actively working to improve the quality of service provided by individual agents. But for businesses with a relentless dedication to delivering exceptional customer experience (CX), there's a much deeper purpose behind call monitoring.
Let’s explore the relationship between call center quality assurance (QA) and customer experience and how it can shape a company's success.
What is QA?
Quality assurance involves systematically monitoring customer interactions in your contact center to enhance the customer experience. This encompasses activities such as call monitoring, scoring, and tracking qualitative factors to guide call center and agent performance. Additionally, it's worth noting that monitoring, scoring, and other quality assurance practices provide supervisors and coaches with the information they need to tailor their coaching to individuals or (where common challenges are found) create broader training and communications. This personalized approach to coaching can be highly effective in addressing specific agent needs and fostering continuous improvement.
Overall, call center quality assurance fine-tunes the contact center, improves agent performance, and enhances customer interactions.
Poor QA Erodes Customer Trust and Drives up Costs
One of the primary functions of a call center is to assist customers in resolving their problems and answering their queries promptly and effectively. However, if a customer contacts a call center seeking assistance and their issue remains unresolved, it can lead to a poor customer experience.
Imagine a customer calling their internet service provider to discuss confusion with their most recent billing statement. If the agent fails to explain the bill or take any resulting actions, the customer is likely to feel frustrated and disappointed. This usually leads to a repeat call, as the customer looks for a better answer from another agent. But if that initial agent received the right coaching—in both soft skills and how to properly explain the bill—then the customer will expend much less effort and is much more likely to be satisfied with their experience. 73 percent of consumers believe that brands demonstrating an appreciation for their customers' time signifies a positive customer service experience.
Poor quality assurance almost always leads to poor customer experiences that can tarnish a company's reputation and erode customer trust. Such incidents not only affect the immediate customer but can also lead to negative word-of-mouth, potentially dissuading prospective customers.
Moreover, poor customer experiences that aren't adequately addressed can result in increasingly frustrated customers and escalating issues that may ultimately require costly customer credits. In contrast, effective QA processes can not only make customers happy but also save the contact center money and foster long-term customer relationships by preventing these costly consequences.
Identifying and Solving for Poor QA
The connection between call center quality assurance and customer experience goes beyond individual interactions. It extends to the identification of areas for improvement within the contact center as a whole. Companies can use quality metrics to uncover recurring issues that hinder customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Quality assurance is measured in many different ways, although case studies, call monitoring, scoring, and software tracking of qualitative factors can guide improvements to call center and agent performance.
Andrew Reise works with clients to build customized CX measurement frameworks to pinpoint specific areas of concern in call centers.
Identifying and Quantifying
For example, conducting a call study using a speech analytics solution may reveal that a high number of customers are canceling their services after confusing or unsatisfying interactions with agents. It can get worse if those same agents also tend to be rude or perceived as such. The data and insights from these broader investigations indicate a systemic problem that negatively impacts the customer experience. By quantifying problems, we can figure out which are the most important in terms of both customer experience and cost to address, thereby providing a way to prioritize operational improvements.
Elevated levels of customer satisfaction serve as a pivotal gauge for call center effectiveness. Aligning with customer expectations and swiftly resolving their concerns significantly enhances the overall customer experience. Research reveals 80 percent of customer service entities rely on customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) as their primary metric for assessing and improving the quality of customer interactions.
Once issues are identified, companies can work on identifying the root causes. They can then focus their efforts on the most crucial issues that affect both customer experience and operational efficiency. This targeted approach ensures attention is directed where it will make the most substantial positive difference, fostering a more effective and satisfying customer journey.
Common Solutions to Customer Experience Challenges
Often, the solution to challenges uncovered through proper monitoring and investigation leads to a set of common approaches to address those challenges and improve the customer experience.
Reducing Call Wait Times
No one wants to wait on hold, and long hold times are a significant source of frustration for customers. Implementing strategies to minimize wait times can significantly improve the customer experience. Traditionally, this meant doing a better job at forecasting call demand and staffing appropriately, but more recently, it could also mean implementing a machine learning solution called an intelligent virtual agent (IVA) that can handle numerous issues for customers and is always available.
Agent Training and Knowledge
Ensuring that call center agents are well-trained and knowledgeable is essential. Agents should be equipped to handle a wide range of customer inquiries and issues efficiently and accurately. This often requires extensive training on a host of topics like company policies, products, and the applications used to service customers. We find that most companies provide ample new-hire training on these topics, but the challenge for them is ensuring that ongoing training and access to up-to-date resources (such as an advanced knowledge management system) can meet changing needs.
Customers appreciate a personalized experience. Training agents to use customer data effectively and providing them with in-the-moment guidance on the customer’s recent interactions and preferences can make interactions more engaging and satisfying. Many companies provide this guidance through their customer relationship management software (CRM) via prompts or through third-party tools that can help agents in a myriad of ways.
Consistency Across Channels
In today's multichannel world, customers may interact with your call center via phone, email, chat, or social media. It's crucial to ensure a consistent experience across all these channels. Customers should receive the same level of service no matter how they choose to contact your call center. That’s why it is important that the same customer experience standards that are part of quality monitoring efforts for one channel are translated to and leveraged in all channels.
Gathering and Analyzing Customer Feedback
Listening to your customers is paramount. Implement mechanisms for collecting and analyzing customer feedback. Post-call surveys, post-interaction feedback forms, and social media monitoring can help identify pain points and areas for improvement. For post-call or post-interaction surveys, it is important to ask the customer’s perspective of the agent’s performance, as well as any other insights about the company and its customer experience—just remember to keep it short.
Efficiency matters. Often, quality monitoring can reveal where agents struggle to provide an excellent customer experience because they are hampered by difficult and onerous processes. If this is the case, it’s time to review and streamline internal processes to reduce customer effort. Simplify procedures for issue resolution, escalation, and information retrieval to ensure customers get the help they need swiftly. This should be achievable in most cases while maintaining policy compliance and proper handling. Certain tools that provide desktop activity tracking and process analysis can greatly assist in these efforts.
Empowering Agents with Technology
Invest in modern call center technology that can support your agents. This may include CRM software, knowledge management platforms, and real-time assistance prompts, among others. By this, we don’t mean a constant string of reminder pop-ups, but rather tailored assistance that responds to the conversation.
Create a culture of ongoing improvement within your call center. Leverage insights from monitoring and analysis efforts, and further encourage agents to share their insights and ideas for enhancing customer service. Focus groups for this purpose enable companies to leverage the people who deal most with customers every day. Always remember to recognize and reward innovation and progress.
Learn More Ways to Optimize the Contact Center
By focusing on quality assurance, you can reduce customer frustrations, lower costs, and improve customer experiences. But there are more tools out there to help you optimize the contact center. Read our guide, Contact Center Analytics: A Step-by-Step Guide to Drive Customer Success to learn how to use analytics to deliver even better outcomes in the contact center.