• Sharon Oatway

Designing a Call Center Quality Assurance Scorecard

Updated: 18 hours ago




What is a Quality Assurance Scorecard?


Whether you are embarking on a new contact center quality program or looking to raise-the-bar on your existing program, it all starts with defining your expectations: What is it you expect of your agents? You will know if an agent is performing to your standards by evaluating their interactions against these expectations. Ongoing quality monitoring – combined with timely coaching and feedback -- is the foundation upon which contact center performance is built.


The Quality Assurance Scorecard (or Quality Monitoring Scorecard) contains the criteria by which every interaction will be measured – whether it be a call, email, live chat, video chat, or back-office function. When combined, this criterion should reflect the kind of customer experience you want to deliver. These are often referred to as “Standards of Excellence” and often reflect best-practices in your industry.


Having the Right Perspective


Before you begin to build your QA Scorecard, it’s important to make sure you have the right perspective. That means understanding your company’s brand and the customers you serve. So, for example, if your brand promises to be “easy to do business with” then the criteria you use to measure each interaction should reflect that. If your company targets seniors on Medicare, then the criteria should contain elements related to their unique needs.

It is vital that you understand what your customers expect of you. Sometimes their expectations are shaped by their past experiences with your company or a competitor. Often it is formed through the day-to-day interactions they have in their lives with coffee shops, dry cleaners, restaurants, and more.


What is a Behavior-Based Standard?


There are two types of performance standards to consider: behavior and results. As managers, we tend to concern ourselves only with results. However, when we encourage the right behavior -- and that behavior is sustained over a period of time -- results will inevitably follow.


Behavior-based standards are those, which focus on a specific thing an agent is expected to do or say. They are always within the agent's control. For example, being courteous, asking the right questions, or asking for the order are all within an agent’s control. Whereas the time to serve the customer or how a product performs, may not be within their control.


Call center agents are often the bearers of bad news and can’t always deliver an experience that meets or exceeds the customer’s expectations. For example, if your goal is to ensure that 100% of customers would recommend your business to others, an agent can control how they respond to a customer’s request (e.g. tone of voice, empathy, questioning, etc.) but they cannot control other areas of the business, standard operating procedures or regulatory requirements to ensure the customer’s full satisfaction. It is unfair to measure an agent’s performance based on a standard that is not totally within their control.


Building Your Quality Assurance Scorecard


1. Understand the Flow


Every interaction will have a beginning, middle, and end. It helps to map out what an interaction may involve, and the skills needed at each point along the journey. For example, a Help Desk call or Live Chat session may include:


Beginning

  • Deliver a welcoming greeting

  • Ask for and use the customer’s name

  • Verify account details

Middle

  • Understand the root of the issue through questioning

  • Recap to ensure understanding

  • Express empathy

  • Demonstrate ownership

  • Manage dead air and lengthy holds

Ending

  • Confirm you have answered all the questions

  • Leave the customer feeling valued

Throughout

  • Be courteous and professional

  • Adjust communication to the customer’s unique needs

An email responding to a Customer Service issue may include some of the same expectations but will be stated differently:


Beginning

  • Start with a personalized, welcoming greeting

  • Restate the reason for the inquiry

Middle

  • Express empathy

  • Demonstrate ownership

  • Answer all the questions contained in the email fully

Ending

  • Provide contact information for any further questions

  • Leave the customer feeling valued

Throughout

  • Be courteous and professional

  • Good spelling, grammar, and punctuation

TIP! It makes sense to put your standards in an order that aligns with a typical interaction flow. As QA Analysts listen to the call and/or read the email/chat you don’t want them having to jump all over the Scorecard.

2. Define the Standards


Now that you have identified in general terms what the company and customer's expectations are, it will be important to define what it ‘sounds’ or ‘looks’ like.


For example, a Welcoming Greeting may sound like: “Thank you for calling ABC Customer Service. This is Sharon. How may I help you today?”


But what are the characteristics of the greeting? What makes this a ‘welcoming’ greeting and what is a barrier? For example, for a greeting to be welcoming, it would have to:

  • Happen promptly (no dead air before answered)

  • Be energetic and upbeat

  • Be clear and easy for the customer to understand

  • Include the department name (if not already provided on an IVR) along with the agent’s name

  • Include an offer to help

TIP! If you are having trouble defining what a welcoming greeting sounds like, think about the characteristics of an inhospitable greeting.

3. Describe/Document the Standards


The most often-overlooked step in creating a powerful QA Scorecard is to document the standards. You cannot have too many examples or too much definition here. The ‘playbook’ makes sure that everyone has a common understanding of what the expectations are.

NOTE: If developing your scorecard and documenting your expectations seems like a daunting task (it certainly can be!), reach out to VereQuest for support in this area. We are able to draw upon best practices across industries to create a scorecard that best aligns with your brand and the kind of experience you want to deliver.

Your QA Scorecard Playbook will start to take shape and may look something like this:


Once you have a detailed description of all your standards, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Collectively, do the standards reflect the kind of experience you want to achieve?

  2. Do the standards reflect your company’s brand?

  3. Are the standards behavior-based? Does the agent have full control over meeting these expectations?


4. Weight the Standards


Not all standards are equal when it comes to creating the best possible customer experience. With that in mind, it is important to weight each standard to reflect the impact it has on how the customer feels about the interaction. The higher the weighting, the more critical the requirement for adherence and coaching. Remember, everything is important, but some things are more important than others. Depending on the QA system you use, you can assign points or %.


EXAMPLE ONLY

Standard Weight/Points

Welcoming Greeting 5

Obtain/Use the Customer’s Name 2

Complete Authentication 8

Ask Curious Questions 10

Express Empathy 15

Take Ownership 15

Manage Dead Air/Holds 5

Demonstrate Courtesy/Professionalism 10

Problem Solving 20

Personalize Closing 10

TOTAL POSSIBLE SCORE 100


A couple of things to note:

  • Some of your standards may be mandatory, compliance-related behaviors that must be present in each interaction. They are critically important and may result in an Auto-Fail’.

  • If there are standards that your agents have been able to deliver consistently well and don’t need as much attention (e.g. a Welcoming Greeting) then, although you know that a great opening helps to build a positive interaction from the get-go, you may want to weight this standard lower in favor of another equally important standard that you want to reinforce and work on (e.g. Empathy).


5. Leverage Call Center QA for Business Insight


As you are listening to calls or reading emails, you will learn a lot about problems customers are facing, why they have a need to call and what motivates them. Why not add some of these elements to your QA Scorecard for the sole purpose of tracking and reporting? If you add them with a zero-weight (0%), it will not affect agents’ score, but it will provide valuable insight.


6. Test Your Scorecard


Now that you have defined your standards and weighted them, it’s time to test your QA Scorecard. Listen/read a variety of strong/poor customer interactions and evaluate them against the criteria. If the agent does not demonstrate the behaviors as you’ve described them, deduct the points/weighting from the total possible score.


EXAMPLE ONLY

Standard Weight/Points

Welcoming Greeting 5

Obtain/Use the Customer’s Name 2

Complete Authentication 8

Ask Curious Questions 10 x

Express Empathy 15 x

Take Ownership 15

Manage Dead Air/Holds 5

Demonstrate Courtesy/Professionalism 10

Problem Solving 20

Personalize Closing 10

SCORE 75



As you go through this exercise you may want to tweak your weighting and add more detail to your definition of each standard. The more interactions you can review, the better.


If you have the opportunity, invite others to review interactions with you. This may include frontline agents or supervisors, trainers, marketing, etc. As you evaluate the interaction, do you have consensus that the agent has/has not met your expectations? As you discuss your expectations, make sure to update the scorecard to clarify and/or add more detail until you arrive at consensus. We call this ‘calibration’, and this should be an ongoing exercise (e.g. monthly). Also see Best Practice: Managing a QA Calibration Session.


7. Define Conditions Where Auto-Fail Is Used


There will be times when a standard is so important that a failure to demonstrate it has serious consequences. Compliance-related standards or unprofessional conduct often fall into this category. Typically, when an Auto-Fail is used, the evaluation would be assigned 0% or zero and would dramatically affect the agent’s overall average score. [Check to make sure your QA system accommodates this.]


8. Define Conditions Where Not Applicable (N/A) Is Used


There will be times when a standard simply does not apply to an interaction. For example, if the customer is irate and has just spent the last 15 minutes with an agent trying to resolve a problem, it would not be appropriate to attempt to cross-sell a new service. Typically, when an N/A is used, the total % or total # of points is reduced by that amount which would affect the agent’s overall score. If we are using the above example, if ‘Problem Solving’ was N/A then the total possible score would be 80 points and the score would be 83% : 75 divided by 80 (not 100). [Check to make sure your QA system accommodates this.]


Managing the QA Process


If you have more than 25 agents, the task of keeping track of which agents need to be evaluated when, how many, and what type can be an administrative nightmare. It is important to make sure that there is as short a timeframe as possible between when the interaction occurs and when the QA evaluation takes place. Timely feedback is very important to agent development. Afterall, you do not want agents repeating the same poor behavior all month while they wait for their QA assessments.


For a true picture of performance, you will also want to make sure that evaluations are spread out throughout the month (and not just on one day). Agents who are on vacation, out of the office, or are on a specialized queue can wreak havoc with your scheduling.


Check out VQ Online™ Quota Management Support for a solution to this scheduling challenge.


Choosing the Right QA System for your Needs


It’s not impossible to do QA on a spreadsheet – but it is challenging. The biggest shortcoming is the ability to generate real-time reports. It is difficult to get a sense of how an agent or team is performing beyond a single interaction. For coaching to be effective, it is important to watch the trends and so timely reporting plays a key role.


There are a number of robust, cost-effective QA systems available (see VereQuest's VQ Online™) that can help take care of some of the arduous QA reporting needs. Before you settle on the least expensive option, here are 5 key questions to ask:

  1. Does the system contain the features that you need to host and manage a robust Quality Assurance program?

  2. How arduous is it to complete an evaluation? Is the scorecard presented on one screen or will the QA Analyst need to scroll back/forth to complete an evaluation? How much typing is involved or are there numerous (easily edited) drop-downs to provide greater detail in a shorter amount of time? (Importantly, the use of drop-downs also means you will be able to capture and report much more specific insight.)

  3. Does the system allow you to capture insight related to the overall customer experience (in addition to agent behavior)?

  4. Do you need to pay for each agent and/or user or is it a flat monthly rate? If you would like to provide others outside of the call center with access to the site to be able to review customer interactions (which we highly recommend), then you do not want to have to pay for each user.

  5. Is your information (which may contain personal, private customer information) hosted in a secure facility?


One Final Thought


It’s been said that ‘People need goals to direct them towards specific outcomes. When people reach those outcomes, they know when they have achieved success.’ When you have defined, documented and gained consensus around your goals and expectations, there is a significantly greater likelihood your agents will take responsibility for their own performance.


However, Quality Assurance without relevant education and timely coaching is only taking things halfway:


  1. Does your training support the expectations you have of your agents as you have documented them? Do agents know HOW to deliver the standards you have defined? [Check out VereQuest’s customizable e-learning program to help augment and/or build an e-learning program that supports your agents in meeting your expectations.]

  2. Once you have evaluated an agent's performance and identified the trends, timely coaching is vital. If you don’t have time to conduct QA and coach, then consider outsourcing your QA effort so you can focus your valuable internal resources on frontline support and coaching.

VereQuest has been helping companies of all sizes develop, manage and support Quality Assurance programs since 2002. Leverage our vast knowledgebase to build a QA program that sustains agent performance and supports agent engagement. Get in touch for a no-obligation discussion about what is possible at 1-866-920-2011 or contact us!