Call Center Quality Monitoring Best Practices
Updated: May 17
We’ve been doing call center quality monitoring for large and smaller companies since 2002 and have learned a few things along the way. By popular demand, here is our list of call center quality monitoring best practices for 2023!
1. Understand the kind of call center experience you want to deliver
Before you do anything, take a moment to reflect on the kind of experience you want your customers to have with your call center. If your brand is all about ‘making things easy,’ then your call center experience should reflect that and prioritize skills that help to remove the effort from the experience or educate the customer. Or, you may want the experience to be fast and efficient because that’s what customers have told you they want. In that case, you may want to focus on creating an experience that is well-planned and moves through the steps in the most efficient way possible. Whatever experience you want to create, you need to be able to translate that into your quality monitoring efforts.
2. Define the experience by designing a robust call center Quality Monitoring scorecard
This is perhaps the most important component of a best practice call center quality monitoring program – and the most challenging to create. It makes sense that your QA Scorecard or Rubric will include some of the fundamental skills like tone and manner, managing dead air, or delivering key compliance statements. The secret to a powerful customer experience, however, is the way agents engage with customers. How they turn what could be a routine, transactional experience into one that builds loyalty and differentiates you in the marketplace. No easy task! NOTE: This is something VereQuest can help you with.
At the foundation of the call center quality monitoring program is what we call the “Playbook” or definitions document. The Playbook should contain a clear and robust definition of the experience you want your agents to deliver – not a ‘wish list’ but rather what you ‘expect.’ Collectively, all the skills and behaviors in the Playbook should come together to create a vibrant picture of the customer experience you are creating. When well-designed, the Playbook provides direction to all the stakeholders – not just the Quality Assurance team – including Training, Frontline Managers, and even the Agents. At a minimum, the Playbook should contain the following:
What does 'best practice' like? What is the “Standard”? NOTE: We like to phrase our Standards in the voice of the customer. For example:
I felt I was having a dialogue with a real person who genuinely cared about me and my situation. I felt that the Specialist could relate to my situation -- they empathized -- and would help me resolve my problem in the best possible way.
What it doesn’t sound like, what would be considered unacceptable, or the “Shortfall.” For example:
I had an obvious emotional response (positive or negative) or expressed an emotional "clue,” but the Specialist did not acknowledge it in any way. I didn’t feel that my personal needs were driving the conversation.
Lots and lots of examples to illustrate both best practices and less-than-desirable behavior
[Caller is obviously upset and/or anxious] “I can hear that this is a concern for you. Let me see what I can do to help.”
Weighting for each Standard that drives an overall score and helps to prioritize one behavior or skill over another.*
*There is a lot of controversy around the use of scores to determine agent performance. Some companies prefer to use a range of performance like “Exceeds, Meets, Does Not Meet Expectations.” We do not recommend this approach unless you have clearly defined the difference between each level, which is challenging to do. We purport an all-or-nothing approach – you either demonstrated the behavior according to the standard or you did not.
Still, other companies feel that a score is not necessary at all and opt to provide notes related to performance on their own. This may be acceptable for smaller teams, but for larger teams having an overall QA score (whether you share it with the agents or not) is extremely valuable for prioritizing where you are going to focus your coaching.
Check out “Designing a Call Center Quality Assurance Scorecard” for more information.
Once you have a robust Quality Assurance Scorecard in place, don’t leave it on the shelf. This should be a constantly evolving document that is regularly updated with new examples and the changing needs of your customers.
Before you launch, socialize the Quality Assurance Scorecard with all your stakeholders, including the QA Team, frontline Managers, Training, and a couple of high-performing Agents. Conduct lots of calibration sessions using the Playbook as a resource and work together to a point where you are all confident that the main characteristics of the experience are captured. Although you can update the QA Scorecard and Playbook, you want to refrain from dramatically overhauling it after you have introduced it to the frontline teams; changes should be restricted to ‘tweaks’ or ‘embellishment.’
3. Make sure your call center training aligns
Now that you have defined the experience you want your agents to deliver, it's time to check in with your training department. Whatever expectations you have outlined in your Quality Assurance Scorecard and Playbook need to be perfectly aligned with what the Agents are taught in the classroom. If changes need to be made to the new hire training, don’t forget to circle back and re-train your existing team.
For more information about customized, off-the-shelf e-learning that will align with your QA Scorecard, check out: https://www.verequest.com/contact-center-training
There are four (4) reasons why Agents won’t be able to perform well against the QA Scorecard requirements:
They don’t know how: This is where your new hire training comes into play
They have forgotten: This is where Quality Assurance and Coaching need to focus on
They don’t want to: Purely a management issue
They are getting conflicting information: This is why all the stakeholders need to be perfectly aligned in reinforcing what is expected.
4. Hire the right Quality Assurance people
Not everyone is cut out to be a Call Center Quality Assurance specialist. Although having strong product and operational experience is vital, it is not a given that your most tenured agents will make good Quality Assurance specialists. This is particularly true if you are asking them to do this work on a full-time basis.
For more information, check out the “Qualities of a Great Call Center QA Specialist”
Click here for a job description template for a Call Center QA Specialist.
5. Conduct QA on your QA
It is reasonable to expect that your Quality Assurance specialists will make mistakes applying the QA Scorecard criteria to each call on a consistent basis. In fact, this is the greatest challenge many in-house QA Teams face – over-scoring or failing to identify behaviors consistently across all calls evaluated and all agents. It’s the main reason why Agents tend to believe that internal Quality Assurance specialists can be biased for or against them.
It is also one of the main reasons companies consider outsourcing their QA to an independent third party. If you don’t have an appetite for outsourcing all of your QA, consider having an independent third-party spot-check (“Check-the-Checker”) your internal QA and provide coaching/feedback to your internal Quality Assurance team.
If this has piqued your interest, check out this article on "Outsourcing your Call Center Quality Assurance," and be sure to download your FREE guide to Outsourcing QA.
6. Hold regular call quality calibration sessions
Calibration sessions are important collaborative meetings where key stakeholders come together on a weekly or bi-monthly basis to listen to calls and align their perspectives about how the Quality Assurance criteria are being applied. Plus, it's an excellent forum for sharing ideas and coaching support.
For information about how to run an effective Calibration Session, check out "Best Practice Managing a QA Calibration Session".
7. Leverage QA software for real-time reporting
It goes without saying that the sooner you are able to deliver results to the Team Coach, the sooner the right behaviors will stabilize. Consistency is essential in managing and sustaining call center performance. If you are still using Excel spreadsheets, now is a good time to look at the wide range of online options available.
For information about VereQuest's Online QA tool, click here.
7. Put a formal escalation process into place
Best-in-class call centers are known for their responsiveness to both problems and opportunities. That’s why it makes sense to put a formal escalation process in place to highlight both positive experiences (“Kudos”) and negative ones (“Escalations”).
Once identified as part of the quality assurance process, having the ability to celebrate an excellent call with an agent is extremely powerful in motivating the agent and refocusing their teammates. Share these Kudos far and wide and celebrate success in a public manner.
In addition, identifying Escalations where an agent needs coaching on an urgent basis or a follow-up with a customer is recommended is an important role of QA.
8. Make sure Coaching happens regularly
Quality assurance for the sake of doing quality assurance is a waste of time and money if it is not followed up with frequent and actionable coaching. Best-in-class organizations leverage Quality Assurance to feed high-priority coaching opportunities to frontline teams for coaching. The opportunities are prioritized and timely. Enough said.
If you feel your frontline managers could use a refresher or upgrade in their coaching skills, check out VereQuest's Coaching Check-Up™:
9. Revisit and tweak
As was mentioned earlier, your Call Center Quality Assurance program should not be static but rather evolve as the needs of your customers and organizations evolve. While it may be tempting to throw everything you can think of into the QA criteria, the best results come from focusing on the right things. Yes, tone and manner may be critically important to your call center agents’ performance today, but now that you are hiring with that in mind, perhaps you don’t need to focus on it. Instead, replace it with skills and attention that help move the CSAT or NPS needle, like Empathy or Problem-Solving.
10. Get some professional QA support
Getting things right takes a lot of time -- typically from the same resources that need to focus on sustaining call center performance. It makes a lot of sense to get some help. VereQuest has developed and supported Call Center Quality Assurance programs for companies since 2002. We have the expertise, templates, and hindsight that can help get your QA efforts back on track at a fraction of the time (and reasonably priced). Get in touch for a no-obligation chat. We love to talk about Call Center Quality Assurance!
VEREQUEST is a consulting firm specializing in driving and sustaining the quality of the customer experience in the contact center environment. We help our clients, each a leading organization in N.A., strive to win customers’ hearts a
nd loyalty through a wide range of proprietary tools and techniques.
By combining highly skilled humans (yours or ours) with VereQuest’s proprietary technology and years of experience, we can uncover what drives the best customer experiences and help you build and sustain them over time.
Get in touch for a no-obligation chat about your Contact Center Quality at 1-866-920-2011 or click here!