Inbound call centers are an integral part of the customer experience.
When your call center is working well, it helps you serve your customers better by providing real-time support whenever your customers need them. Ongoing support is how you make your customers successful, increasing the odds that they’ll stay with your company for the long-term.
But if you want your call center to be a valuable asset for your business, you need to make sure every agent is providing a consistently high-quality experience.
Call center monitoring is your key to doing that.
What is call center quality monitoring?
Call center quality monitoring is a way of assessing and improving agent performance, which in turn increases customer satisfaction. You may hear it referred to as quality monitoring (QM) or quality assurance monitoring (QA or QA monitoring).
We’ve all heard the pre-recorded “This call may be recorded for quality assurance” at one time or another. Any time you hear this, it’s an indicator that the company you’re calling is monitoring customer service calls to try and deliver you the best experience possible.
When first launching a QA monitoring program, the call center leadership team will usually create a QA evaluation form. This form defines the qualities they believe are important to delivering a high-quality customer experience, and it’s used to score each call that gets reviewed. These scored interactions determine if standards are being met and, if they aren’t, what corrective action is needed.
Quality monitoring can be done by a dedicated quality assurance team, call center leadership, an outsourced team, or a combination of all three.
What does call center quality monitoring measure?
Every company defines quality a little differently, so the specific behaviors on your quality scorecard will vary from others. That said, there are some basics that all good quality monitoring programs have. Most quality programs consider broad categories like communication skills, issue resolution, and adherence to internal processes.
Within these broad categories, each quality program breaks things down differently based upon what they consider priorities. Most QA scorecards include items like these:
- Skilled listening
- Empathetic tone of voice
- Communicating effectively to the customer
- Getting to the root of the issue
- Setting customer expectations
- Timely resolution of the case
Most of these quality standards can be used regardless of the type of interaction so they can form the basis of your quality monitoring program.
And while “call center quality monitoring” might sound like it only includes monitoring phone calls, that’s not the case. Your QA program can include many customer support channels, including things like phone calls, email interactions, chat conversations and social media exchanges.
Why quality monitoring is important to your call center
Monitoring customer service interactions is one of the best ways to find actionable feedback for improving your call center’s performance. It’s not hypothetical—you’re looking at real interactions between your team and your customers. Quality monitoring enables you to see how customers respond during interactions, what their sentiment toward your product is, and how you can better meet their needs.
Zippia’s research found that “60% of U.S. customers chose to do more business with a company after a positive customer service experience in 2020.” Consistently working to improve your customer service team is a key way to drive customer retention and revenue growth. Source
A Shep Hyken study found that only around 4% of customers wouldn’t switch to another company because of a poor customer service experience. Almost 30% of people willing to switch said they were “extremely willing to switch to have a better customer service experience.”
It’s clear that the quality of customer service is crucial to almost everyone and leads directly to higher customer satisfaction.
7 tips for call center quality monitoring
So how do you set up a call quality monitoring program that improves customer retention, growth, and all-around satisfaction?
Here are some tips for setting up your QM program, regardless of your industry or company size.
1. Set clear standards
If you don’t set standards, your team doesn’t know what’s expected of them. More importantly, you’ll never know how your team is performing.
Setting standards for your quality monitoring program involves defining what quality looks like for your organization. These standards should be informed by your company’s values, your team’s capabilities, and—most importantly—your customers’ expectations.
Your standards will dictate the items on your quality scorecard. Some questions you may want to ask on your scorecard include:
- Did the agent address the needs of the customer completely?
- Did the agent display empathy and offer an apology for the issue?
- Was communication tailored to the customer?
- Were clear next steps provided?
- Did the agent paraphrase the issue to the customer?
No matter what standards you decide on, help your call center team understand why you chose each behavior.
2. Pick quality standards that make sense
Your standards need to be clear, and they also need to make sense for your business. If something that’s considered “industry standard” doesn’t make sense for your business, don’t be afraid to tweak it or discard it entirely.
Here’s an example:
For some call centers, it may make sense to have a standard that verifies an agent copied all relevant parties on a confirmation email—like an enterprise customer with a customer success manager and account executive.
For others, like an ecommerce company, that doesn’t make any sense. Only the customer needs to get that email.
And for other companies or customer interactions, a confirmation email may not even be necessary at all.
Quality monitoring has the ability to make every customer feel unique, but you have to use quality standards that fit well with your customers and your business.
3. Create a quality assurance team
One of the best ways to gain and maintain any type of momentum with your quality monitoring program is to have a dedicated team performing evaluations. This allows for three things:
- It guarantees it gets done. Having people you hire for the sole purpose of evaluating quality means it won’t keep getting pushed aside in favor of other initiatives.
- You can hire specialists. There are many companies that have great quality assurance programs, which means plenty of experienced candidates for your QA team.
- Biases disappear. Because a quality monitoring team sees things from a distance, they can often be more objective than team leads or managers.
Focus on creating a quality monitoring team that’s integrated well into your company and wholeheartedly agrees with your definition of a quality interaction.
4. Use the evaluation data as a coaching tool
Effective coaching does more than just give your employees answers. Coaching guides employees towards finding answers themselves. It helps them think critically and prepares them for future interactions.
It takes time to continually coach employees, but the direct result is greater employee confidence and better performance. Coaching builds confidence in employees for two reasons:
- Most of the time they already know the answer. You just need to “coach” it out of them.
- They did the work to find the answer instead of someone else.
Quality monitoring evaluations are great at uncovering coaching opportunities for your team. Reviewing interactions will identify areas of improvement by highlighting trends for individual employees and across your support team as a whole.
One way to get started is to score an interaction live with each employee. Set up a meeting with them, and go through the QA scorecard together in real-time. Discuss how each of you would score each section and why.
5. Use a different evaluation form for each contact channel
Your QA program should be flexible enough to accommodate any channel your customers use to contact your support team.
For example, you may want to make sure your agents are using the correct tone of voice on a phone call. However, for text-based interactions like emails or live chat, tone is harder to measure. In these interactions, you’ll probably want to look closer at things like clarity.
That’s why it’s a good idea to create a different QA evaluation form for each support channel.
This doesn’t mean that there can’t be similarities between, say, an email contact evaluation and a phone call evaluation form. But the key is to create a form for each channel that highlights the key behaviors you want to see for that channel.
6. Save great interactions
As your call center quality monitoring team or leadership team performs call evaluations, they will come across great interactions between your support team and your customers. Save these interactions for future use as training examples.
One of the best ways to train new employees is to show them what great interactions with customers look like. For new hires, you can analyze the calls together and give more direction.
You can also use these saved calls as coaching tools. Listen to them live with struggling team members and analyze what makes each call exceptional. Try asking questions like “what do you think made this a great interaction?” or “what did the agent do to turn this call around?” These open-ended questions encourage them to identify the best parts of the call themselves.
7. Recognize and reinforce exemplary behaviors
Don’t stop at simply saving great interactions.
Recognize and reinforce good behaviors that you find during QA reviews. From shoutouts to extra PTO to awards or gift cards, recognizing good behavior encourages the responsible team member and sets up an example for others to follow.
Recognition is a powerful tool. If you’re not recognizing your customer service team regularly, you could be in for trouble.
Workhuman and Gallup partnered on an employee recognition study that found proper employee recognition resulted in employees feeling 73% less likely to feel burnt out, four times as likely to feel engaged, and five times as likely to feel connected to their workplace culture.
If you want to build a strong customer service team, recognizing and rewarding great behaviors when they occur should be a key part of your strategy.
Next steps in building your quality monitoring program
Quality monitoring is an important part of any call center or customer support team. It gives your team members the feedback they need to grow and develop in their careers, while also uncovering ongoing ways to improve the experience you’re giving your customers.
If you’re interested in building out a quality assurance team, the quickest way to get started is to partner with Peak Support. We can help you build and launch an outsourced QA team within days or weeks, while giving you the benefit of our years of experience working with dozens of quickly growing companies.
Contact us today to learn more.