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Staffing and Operational Metrics: The Far-Reaching Impact of Quality Programs

March 8, 2024 | | Customer Service, Contact Center

”Quality is the result of a carefully constructed cultural environment. It has to be the fabric of the organization, not part of the fabric" —Phil Crosby

Quality assurance (QA) programs have long been recognized as essential tools for ensuring a high standard of customer service in call centers. However, their impact extends beyond customer satisfaction. Quality programs can significantly influence staffing and operational metrics, making them integral to the overall success of a call center.

The Impact of Quality on Operations

Elevating Customer Satisfaction

At the heart of every quality program is the objective of enhancing customer satisfaction. By ensuring that customers receive top-notch service, call centers can build loyalty and trust. Satisfied customers are more likely to return and recommend the company to others.

As a result, the positive impact on customer retention and acquisition is a direct benefit of quality programs.

Here’s another way to delight your customers: The Dirty Dozen: 12 Common Customer Experience Transformation Pitfalls And How To Avoid Them

Optimizing Staffing Levels

Quality programs provide valuable insights into agent performance and customer interactions. By analyzing these interactions, call centers can identify patterns and trends in call volume and issue resolution. This data can be leveraged to optimize staffing levels. When a call center is adequately staffed, it reduces wait times, improves first-call resolution rates, and enhances the overall customer experience.

An 85-90 percent occupancy rate represents a healthy proportion of time when agents are actively engaged in handling customer calls rather than waiting in idle time. Although one might assume that aiming for 100 percent occupancy is the objective, such a target can lead to burnout and points to potential customer wait times.

Enhancing Agent Training and Development

One of the key components of quality programs is the continuous training and development of agents. These programs help identify areas where agents may need improvement and provide opportunities for coaching and skill enhancement.

Well-trained agents are more proficient in handling customer inquiries, resulting in faster issue resolution and increased customer satisfaction. All too often, companies employ a “one type suits all” approach to training. If a particular challenge or opportunity is seen, then all agents are scheduled for training or all team meetings focus on the topic. A better approach would be to identify individual agents needing specific training and provide it to them; this is a much less impactful and costly approach to operations.

Reducing Operational Costs

Efficiency is a crucial metric for any call center. Effective quality programs can help streamline operational processes. By identifying areas where agents may be less efficient, call centers can implement process improvements and automation to reduce operating costs. They can also identify where systems and tools that agents use might be ineffective or difficult to operate in the moment of customer interaction.

Often, these kinds of process or system improvements might seem costly on their own. However, when measured against the improvements in handle times, hold times, and first call resolution they turn out to pale in comparison. Taking a measured, quantifiable approach with the use of quality program data and insights can contribute to better overall financial performance.

Compliance and Risk Mitigation

Many industries are subject to regulatory requirements, and compliance is paramount. Quality programs ensure that agents adhere to these requirements and follow established protocols. By maintaining compliance, call centers mitigate the risk of legal and financial penalties, further protecting their operational stability.

Failure to adhere to regulations results in the erosion of loyal customer bases as they distance themselves from a brand they perceive as untrustworthy. The comprehensive cost of non-compliance, encompassing fines, penalties, business interruptions, revenue declines, decreased productivity, reputation degradation, and additional expenses is estimated to exceed $14 million.

Improved Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is another area where quality programs have an indirect yet significant impact. When agents receive adequate training and support, their job satisfaction increases. Happy employees are more likely to stay with the company, reducing turnover rates and the associated costs.

Ultimately, satisfied employees are often more motivated and committed to delivering high-quality customer service.

Driving Perpetual Improvement

Quality programs are not static; they are designed to evolve with changing customer needs and industry standards. By regularly reviewing performance data and customer feedback, call centers can identify areas for improvement.

This commitment to continuous improvement fosters an environment of innovation and adaptability, positioning call centers to remain competitive and effective.

Best Practices for Identifying Quality Assurance Metrics for Enhancement

When it comes to elevating the quality of your call center operations, it's imperative to have a robust system in place for determining which metrics truly matter. QA metrics are the compass guiding your efforts toward improvement. Here are some of the best ways to pinpoint and utilize these metrics effectively:

  • Customer feedback analysis: The voice of the customer is a valuable source of information. Analyze customer feedback, whether from post-interaction surveys or direct reviews. Identifying recurring themes or issues raised by customers can highlight areas in need of improvement. Just remember to balance customer ease with the company’s need for insights; don’t make any survey too long.
  • Call monitoring: Regularly monitor customer-agent interactions. Listen to calls, assess chat transcripts, and review email correspondence. This hands-on approach allows you to gauge agent performance, adherence to scripts, and the quality of communication. Be smart and don’t just randomly sample; Instead, target certain types of interactions and customer intents and scan longer interactions where the most problems can be found. With a targeted approach you can better look for patterns in your interactions to identify opportunities for enhancement.
  • Compliance and regulatory metrics: Depending on your industry, compliance with regulations and industry standards may be critical. Evaluate metrics related to compliance, ensuring that your agents are following established guidelines. Failure to do so can result in legal issues and tarnished customer relations.
  • First call resolution (FCR): FCR is a fundamental metric in assessing how efficiently your agents handle customer issues. A high FCR rate indicates that your agents can resolve customer concerns in a single interaction, which is a significant factor in customer satisfaction.
  • Average handle time (AHT): AHT measures the average time it takes for an agent to handle a customer interaction from the moment the call begins to its conclusion. AHT can indicate efficiency but should be balanced with other metrics to ensure it doesn't compromise service quality.
  • Agent performance metrics: Evaluate individual agent performance metrics, such as adherence to scripts, call volume, and customer satisfaction scores. By identifying top performers and areas where agents may need support, you can tailor your coaching and training programs effectively.
  • Quality assurance software: Invest in quality assurance software that offers robust analytics and reporting features. These tools can automate the collection of data and generate comprehensive reports, making it easier to identify trends and areas for improvement.
  • Benchmarking: Compare your call center's performance metrics to industry benchmarks. This approach helps you gauge where you stand relative to your peers and can highlight areas where you might be falling short.
  • Root cause analysis: When identifying areas for improvement, delve into the root causes of recurring issues. Instead of merely addressing symptoms, focus on understanding why these problems persist and develop strategies to mitigate them at the source.
  • Continuous feedback loops: Establish a feedback loop that encourages agents to provide insights based on their experiences. Agents often have firsthand knowledge of customer pain points and operational inefficiencies. Their input can be invaluable for driving improvements.

Incorporating these strategies to pinpoint and leverage quality assurance metrics for enhancement can significantly elevate the performance of your call center. Remember that quality assurance is an ongoing process; continuous measurement and refinement are key to sustained success.

Use Contact Center Analytics to Drive Continuous Results

Quality assurance metrics can elevate the contact center, but there are many more ways to use contact center analytics to optimize this essential part of the organization. Read our full guide, Contact Center Analytics: A Step-by-Step Guide to Drive Customer Success to learn how to use technology to deliver better experiences—and increase customer loyalty—through your call center.

Contact Center Analytics: A Step-by-Step Guide