Learn About Quality Monitoring for Call Centers

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Companies invest large sums of money in their call centers so they want to make sure that they are operating as effectively as possible and that the customers are satisfied with the speed and quality of the service they receive. They do this through quality monitoring of the call centers and their employees.

The majority of these facilities with dedicated equipment and staff respond to incoming calls, but some make outgoing sales calls. The incoming call centers also handle sales calls but also are used for customer service and customer support. If you purchase a product or service from a large company, or if you need help with that product, you will most likely deal with a customer service representative at a call center. These call center agents are often the "face" of the company to its customers.

Purposes Of Call Center Monitoring

Call center managers monitor call centers with respect to performance and to quality and set Key Performance Indicator (KPI) metrics for them. Performance issues include metrics like how quickly the caller can reach a call center and how quickly they can reach an agent, how quickly their issue can be resolved and the call closed, and how long they wait on hold during a call. These metrics are typically measured by an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) phone system and are discussed elsewhere. Quality issues that call center managers set KPI metrics for include agent courtesy and ability to follow procedures.

These are typically measured by call center quality monitoring programs and these are explained in detail below.

Call Center Quality Monitoring

Most call center quality monitoring is done by people rather than software. Speech recognition software is improving but has not yet reached the point where it is preferred over human monitors.

Some companies set up their call centers without including a quality monitoring program. This is short-sighted. The information captured by the metrics of a call center monitoring program is essential to the cost-effective operation of the call center and the capturing of vital customer feedback on quality, performance, and service.

Quality Monitoring Choices

A company has to decide whether to monitor the quality performance of their call center representatives using their own staff or hiring an outside firm to do the monitoring. Even when a company has an internal Quality Department to supplement the team managers in the call center it is preferable to hire a third-party firm to do quality monitoring. This outside monitoring provides additional data that the team managers just don't have the time to produce.

An outside firm doing the quality monitoring of your call center is preferred because the outside firm is perceived as more objective, they are specialists, they provide the staffing to capture statistically significant measurements quicker, and they bring a third-party perspective.

  • Objectivity - when the monitoring is done by an internal quality group or by the team leader, the call center representatives wonder whether the score they receive from that company member might be biased by other interactions within the company. They worry, for example, that the quality monitor might give them lower marks because of the disagreement they had in the lunch room last week. Or that their supervisor has favorites to whom he or she gives higher marks. When the monitoring and grading are done by anonymous outsiders, none of those possible biases influence the scores.
  • Faster - when the supervisors are responsible for monitoring the calls their employees take, they often monitor as few as two or three calls a month. An outside quality monitoring firm is able to meet service level agreements (SLA) that monitor four to eight calls per employee each week. This produces more accurate metrics more quickly.
  • Perspective - an outside firm often can provide insight into the underlying issues and problems that the quality monitoring reveals that the internal quality team can't see because they are too close to the problems.

    Quality Monitoring Process

    1. Develop a "scorecard" that will be used to measure the subjective metrics, such as customer courtesy. Make sure you get input from all stakeholders, including the employees who will be handling the calls.
    2. Listen to the calls. Typically the calls are recorded in case there is any difference of opinion on the scoring or to reinforce training points. The quality monitor can listen to the calls live, as they happen, or listen later to the recorded calls. The former is preferred.
    3. Score the call based on the scorecard developed at the beginning of the program. These scores are then made available to the company management to see if they are meeting their goals (KPI) and so they can take appropriate action.
    1. Data analysis of the scores tells management how well they are doing, what's going well, and where further training is needed. It also can highlight where changes need to be made to the scripts the sales team follows or to the procedures the service team uses. Done right, it provides excellent information on the "Voice of the Customer" that is critical to the company's customer satisfaction program.
    2. Select a sample of calls to use to calibrate your scoring. Everyone involved in scoring needs to periodically evaluate the same call and compare scores to make sure scoring is standardized.

      Bottom Line

      By monitoring a statistically significant number of calls, scoring them against a calibrated scorecard, and providing those data to everyone involved, a company can maximize the value of its call center and call center employees.