In my new-hire orientation at a contact center, I was taught that people who fail quality checks fail out of the call center. So you can understand why I was nervous before my first quality check. I’d taken a dozen or so calls by that point and had dealt with many customers who were angry that I couldn’t address their specific concerns. This was due mostly to the fact that I was limited by a script, instructed not to deviate from standard company practices. But all my worry was for nothing; I got a perfect score. That’s because I had used the standard greeting, called customers by their name, entered customer information in the system correctly, and used the correct call closing. My coach—the person who analyzed and scored reps’ calls—didn't even care that customers were angry at the end of calls. She was just happy I completed the steps required on the quality assurance (QA) form.
This type of quality check was simply a process check. It was making sure that our agents were following the standards set forth by our contact center. But there was something—someone—missing from our QA process: the customer.
When I moved into contact center management, I proposed a dramatic switch: that we start looking beyond process adherence and start including the customer’s perspective in our QA form. We trained our analysts to score interactions from the customer’s perspective and identify whether agents solved customers’ problems. We didn’t stop checking for adherence to basic processes—those were still important—we just asked our QA analysts to also evaluate agents on how well they served the customer.
The results were astounding. The conversations between coaches and agents were no longer about following the correct script; instead, they focused on our corporate directive to provide exceptional service. We tracked customers in our customer relationship management software, and those who talked to agents with higher quality scores tended to call back less often.
In the new E Source report Managing Quality Assurance in the Utility Contact Center, we examine QA best practices in a variety of contact centers, noting that many call centers are including the customer perspective in their QA protocols. They’re tying their transactional surveys back to the QA process; using speech analytics to review a wider range of calls to identify the behaviors that customers prefer in their customer service representatives; and fundamentally changing the way quality analysts, agents, and management work together. Throughout the report we provide quick tips on how to create positive change in QA processes. See how your utility can improve quality checks to facilitate customer-centric QA practices.