Call center QA and monitoring teams are responsible for ensuring the quality of interactions between call center representatives and consumers. It goes without saying that this is an incredibly complex undertaking, particularly in large organizations with thousands of call center agents having many thousands of interactions with consumers every day.
The problems that plague the minds of QA and monitoring teams are many, but some are more prominent than others – and have a bigger impact on the company’s bottom line. To find out what these most pressing concerns are and how QA and monitoring teams can solve their biggest challenges, we reached out to a panel of call center leaders and QA professionals and asked them to weigh in on this question:
“What’s the one problem that should be keeping call center QA & monitoring teams up at night (and how can they solve it)?”
Meet Our Panel of Call Center Leaders and QA Pros:
Art Coombs is President and CEO of KomBea Corporation. Art has been developing and marketing tools that blend human intelligence and automation to improve call center phone interactions. KomBea Corporation, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been helping call centers become more compliant, secure, and efficient for over 12 years.
“The huge turnover rate of call centers means…”
Continuous hiring and training of new agents. Much of the responsibility of this falls on QA teams, who must ensure that agents adhere to policies, security, quality, and more. Ensuring all agents gather and deliver 100% accurate information to consumers is a top priority for any QA manager, and something they must take incredibly seriously. Inconsistency or inaccuracy can put a company at risk as, in many cases, the information agents deliver is a legally binding disclosure that needs to be read accurately 100% of the time.
Technology systems that provide pre-recorded disclosures and automated statement delivery that is integrated with each call can make onboarding processes much easier. They guarantee perfect delivery of information and legally binding statements on every call and enable agents to use a simple tool to follow complex conversational processes.
Technology like this can cut down on training time, saving call centers money and also eliminating human error, which reduces the risk of legal liabilities, fines, defects, and customer dissatisfaction.
Lindsey Havens is the Senior Marketing Manager for PhishLabs, with over 10 years of experience in Marketing, Communications, Public Relations, Lead Nurturing/Generation, and Analytics.
With a unique blend of marketing and communications experience coupled with a background in behavioral and situational analysis, she brings metrics-driven results and the ability to focus sales and marketing efforts in a direction that offers the highest potential for long-term, sustainable growth.
“Call centers face many pitfalls including…”
Understaffing, mandatory cost-cutting, and flat structures. Many times, call centers find themselves bogged down and overworked due to the inherently flat structures within the company. While the majority of call centers report the desire to train their agents and increase their skill levels over time, less than a third actually offer a clear career development path for staff. Basically, the problem is that organizations will likely lose their most qualified people, because call centers are flat structures with no possible career path. If they don’t leave, talented staff tend to become unmotivated and their work ethics tend to drop over time.
Nabahat Shanza is a professional content writer for the blog of Dialer360. Her articles are also published on other sites as a guest blogger. She has a command to write on call center software and new technologies used in contact centers. In her free time, she writes literature.
“Today in the era of complicated technical competition, quality monitoring is a big challenge…”
One of the major challenges in this context is that managers typically estimate their agent calls throughout the month. But when the whole month has a lot of calls which were of all different types, the quality report – which can identify potential gaps and required agent coaching or training – may be delayed by many days. Meanwhile, hundreds of other customer interactions may suffer.
Gene Caballero is the co-founder of GreenPal, which has been described as Uber for lawn care.
“What kept me up at night were bad reviews…”
Potential customers will read your reviews before using your product or service. Any bad reviews will have a direct impact on your business. Bad reviews will happen, but you have to have good ones to offset the people that are insatiable.
Lindsey Brown is the Director of Marketing and Sales at Port City Companies in Port Huron Michigan. Port City Companies started in 1961 as a full-service answering service and now has three divisions, including a shipping and fulfillment center as well as Acculor, a live, phone-based employee call-off line.
“One of the biggest reasons for keeping a call center up at night is…”
Wondering if the infrastructure in place is keeping up with the current customer demands and if the call center representatives are being trained properly to handle the numerous calls. Port City Communications has been around since 1961 and has much experience in understanding how important it is for technology to be up to date and top of the line. Call Center training is imperative for a company to succeed and continue to grow.
Nicholas is founder and CEO of Surfly. He believes that communicating with people over the Internet should be as simple an in-person interaction.
“The critical problem for call centers is remaining relevant…”
Are call centers becoming irrelevant and extinct?
Almost all products and services are purchased online these days. The current trend of website optimization through A/B testing, guiding users with AI chat bots, and creating communities and knowledge bases for self-help, leave a call center manager wondering whether customers still need human assistance at all.
Additionally, supporting the largest consumer group, the well-researched, impatient digital natives looking for quick and convenient solutions and hyper-personal experiences, is challenging. How can call centers make this interaction impactful for the business?
The only way to differentiate yourself from your competitors is to deliver outstanding service. But in order to do this, you need to be able to bridge the gap between your online presence and your call center. This means you need to be able to directly connect your call center agents to your website visitors. This is possible with co-browsing: an instant, real-time communication solution that lets an agent and customer browse a website together and show (not tell) them what’s the issue (customers), and how to solve it quickly and efficiently (agent).
Bottom Line: Make your call center relevant by bridging the gap between your brand’s online presence and your call center with a co-browsing solution that helps your agents stay irreplaceable in boosting the brand’s performance and improving customer experience.
Jack Barmby, 25, is Founder & CEO of Gnatta, a market leading customer technology platform. Jack is also Founder & CEO of FM Outsource, an award-winning digital customer service outsourcing solution. Jack founded his first business while studying at university in 2012 and led the team remotely until graduating in 2014, when he took on the role of fulltime CEO. Jack is a regular public speaker on customer service/experience, AI, and automation.
“The biggest problems keeping QA teams up at night are…”
Peak – In the weeks leading up to peak, the worry of onboarding, training, and preparing new employees for the deluge coming up is a big issue for many call center managers. Fortunately, technology is continuously evolving to mitigate previously human tasks (such as prioritization and assignation of contacts) leaving more and more operators free to deal with their most important job: speaking to customers.
Managing morale during busy periods – During brand crises or unexpectedly busy holiday periods, it’s not unusual to start to see staff absences rise as employees dread the negative onslaught of comms coming their way when they start their shift. The most important people in this regard aren’t actually the managers – but the supervisors. CS teams often revolve around tight-knit units, and it’s the heads of these units that have to be relied on to raise morale ahead of difficult shifts. This is the equivalent of centurions in the Roman army, in charge of 80 men each in the giant legions. They were often highlighted as the maintainers of general discipline, which allowed the squadron as a whole to operate effectively.
Dealing with change in the industry – We all know CS is changing; telephony is making way for an increasing number of digital options and what was new five years ago (social, instant messaging, cross channel experience) is now old hat in the face of the new revolution epitomized by AI. The answer to this is easier than some people seem to realize: the technology to deal with these changes is readily available and the proponents are well-suited to transformational efforts to bring businesses in line with cutting-edge methods of customer contact resolution. Those that don’t reach out and grasp this today will find the gap hard to make up further down the line.
Ty Givens is the founder of The Workforce Pro, Inc. which gives smaller companies access to executive level Contact Center & Customer Service Experts by the hour. Since 2000, she’s worked in Customer Care, starting with an expertise in Workforce Management and at her peak has run contact centers with upwards of 300 seats, with experience handling both onshore and offshore outsourcing partners. She currently resides in the Greater Los Angeles Area.
“There are several issues keeping QA teams up at night…”
Issue #1: Canned Replies
Call Center and QA Motoring teams should be mostly concerned with canned replies to common questions that do not address the problem, but still follow protocol. For example, I submitted a question to a company via email asking a specific question on how to address an issue I was experiencing. The person replied with the canned reply simply based on keywords, but the reply in no way resolved my issue.
However, if that contact were to be quality assured, there is a strong chance that the person would pass, as he/she used the proper response.
Canned replies make the response times faster and reduce queues quicker, but they can in fact cause repeat contacts (in some cases via other channels, i.e., a phone call). To overcome this challenge, it’s best to have canned replies that are based only on policy that are not intended to remove the personal response to the customer. The representative should have to think about what he/she is saying to address the issue and should be articulate enough to address it.
Too many times in contact centers, employees are taught what to say, but are not taught to understand. Even though contact center representatives are hired to be subject-matter experts, they are often times unaware of how to resolve the issue… they just know what to say.
Issue #2: Unbiased Results
QA teams should be outsourced from an organization to avoid any chances of favoritism. Having a team whose job is to simply assess whether or not the contact was handled appropriately from an outside perspective is always best.
In many cases, the QA team is home grown and is often plucked from the larger population where friendships or enemies exist. Simply based on interpersonal relationships, employees may not get a fair shake, and their results can be skewed.
Issue #3: Offshore QA Companies usually cannot QA written correspondence
This is closely tied to issue #1. A business can get phone calls QA’d for a couple of dollars each, but the written communication costs much more to review and assess. The recommendation is to have an onshore QA partner to help review the messaging for grammar, process, policy, and content. These can run the business easily upwards of $30 an hour.
Angela Megasko is CEO and President of Market Viewpoint, LLC, a market research firm specializing in mystery shopping. As the “Jane Bond” of the mystery shopping world, Angela helps clients ‘see their business through their customers’ eyes.’
“Since phones are used so infrequently for communication (text and emails are a ‘go-to’ standard these days), we should be worried if…”
We are forgetting the basics. How are their reps representing the brand?
Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul.
“Focus on the game, not the score…”
Your customer does not care what you get on your internal scorecard. It’s easy to get lost in the numbers — to worry about getting the scores just right or to spend calibration time arguing about the point value. Instead, stay focused on the one or two Most Important Things (in Winning Well, we call this the MIT). MIT examples: Does the customer know how much you care? Was there a “wow” factor on this call? Did you resolve the customer’s issue?
Billie Jean Bateson
Billie Jean Bateson is a fashionista and loves fashion marketing. Her career started in 2011 as an online marketing analyst, blogger & fashion expert @ Amazing Wristbands. In the mean time, she also loves writing articles in various inspiring categories for popular websites, forums, and e-magazines.
“Night shifts are naturally difficult, so it is important to monitor…”
If you notice a problem, the best way to solve it is to involve agents in the evaluation process. The managers should ask the agents about their confusion and issues. They also should ask for agents’ feedback about the practices that the team follows.
It is very important for agents to receive feedback on time, and it will help the agents to monitor their progress and observe results.
It is also very important to allow the agents to analyze their performances on the basis of the quality of service and customer satisfaction. This way, they will learn from their own mistakes and will improve communication and service skills in order to serve the customers better.
Nick’s career in the call center industry started in 1986 as a call center agent in New York City. Since founding CustomerServ in 2006, Nick’s vision and commitment to finding the perfect-match BPO vendors has led to over $1.1 billion in successful outsourcing partnerships.
“The biggest concern for QA teams should be…”
Who is monitoring the call center QA, monitoring teams, and overall process?
Who is coaching the coaches? Quality and monitoring methodologies can become stale and ineffectual if they are not constantly fine-tuned. The monitoring form alone should not be used as the measuring stick for call quality. Effectiveness of QA and monitoring efforts have to be tested and measured. Continuing education and skills enhancement for QA and monitoring teams is absolutely essential.
Katy serves as Director of Call Center Operations at LawnStarter Lawn Care and has scaled the call center operations of several successful tech companies in the past including Mainstreet Hub and Ownlocal. She is based in Austin, TX.
“I think the one problem that should be keeping call center QA teams up at night is…”
How good is your team at making your customer successful? People buy for the product, but stay for the service, and service is the one thing you can always control – and it should be impeccable.
Even though it seems so simple, making your phone reps sound like the expert, keeping their tone on point, and empathizing is key to great customer service.
One bad customer experience can hurt your company’s reputation, outweighing dozens of positive interactions. Constant QA, coaching, and accountability is how you ensure all interactions are positive.
Kalani Thomas is the Principal of Help Desk Sales.
“The biggest problem we had when I worked at a large call center that recently sold to web.com was…”
The team seemed to be most concerned about the people that knew the QA team couldn’t monitor every sale every time. A salesperson that knows the company can’t catch them breaking a rule can cost the company lots of money in undeserved commission, and even more money in a bruised reputation from being misled by a salesperson that set up the account to fail. We live in an age where software can scan calls and look for keywords that are related to breaking rules. This can set a QA team up to put a little fear in the team to do the right thing. That is necessary to have a successful QA strategy.
Nancy Friedman is the President of The Telephone Doctor in St Louis, MO. a company that improves customer relations by helping businesses learn to communicate better with their consumers.
“Having trained dozens of call centers around the country and working with the ‘team’ – the Customer Service Representatives….”
The Quality Assurance and monitoring folks have shared their biggest challenges with me over the years. It’s not rocket science; it’s not brain surgery. It’s the plain old common-sense syndrome.
All managers have a list if key items needed from their agents to provide the very best customer service. And the list covers the gamut – from engaging the customers, to finding out if there’s anything else they can do to help the caller.
And while most if not all QA managers have a monitoring sheet where they are able to ‘rate’ the CSR when on a call… there are two skills that seem to rise to the top of that list at all call centers. And the ratings for the CSR/Agents aren’t real high in that area.
This skill comes up in most call centers I’ve visited. Asking customers to repeat themselves, answering questions that weren’t asked, or not having the right answers – all because the agent/CSR isn’t a good listener. They’re possibly multitasking, not paying attention, and most important – probably didn’t take NOTES.
SOLUTION – A simple pencil and paper. Write as people talk. Jot notes, not sentences. That’s the secret in listening. Or, If they choose to type notes on their Customer Relation Management folder on the computer, they should let the customer know they’re typing. We usually can hear the click-click, and even if we aren’t able to hear the keyboard taps, letting the customer know that they are taking notes to be sure they have everything ‘right’ is the ‘right’ thing to do. It’s a class act. It shows you care. You’re listening!
Tone of Voice.
SOLUTION: Listening skills and Tone of Voice are a very, very close tie. Did you know it’s difficult to sound friendly and happy without a smile? And YES, we can hear a smile. Do not ever doubt that. Talking without a smile when you’re helping customers frustrates callers.
BIGGER SOLUTION: During the interview, record the applicant talking with you. It’s sad that some companies do not do this. They’d avoid a lot of problems.
A high-tech way to train the CSR better is a program called Service Skills, an online learning platform that helps small- and mid-sized businesses raise customer satisfaction levels, improve productivity, and reduce costly employee turnover.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation, an online document filing service working with business owners and entrepreneurs for all legal filings.
“Our biggest problem that keeps our monitoring teams up at night is…”
Not often related directly to what people say, but rather what they don’t say. Our biggest issue is follow-up and remembering to be responsive to clients who call within the call center. Follow-up is critical, and absent a great strategy with diligent team members, it can significantly impact sales and the business. The strategy we use is calendaring and engaged leadership. We also cross-share outbound lists so as to ensure that if a lead is missed by one rep, we have other teams over the course of a month following up until clients can be reached and outstanding questions answered.
Mark Paetz is the Director of Quality Assurance at Higher Ed Growth. Higher Ed Growth (HEG) is a full-service marketing agency specializing in post-secondary education. HEG uses proprietary technology, like EduMaximizer, to deliver targeted enrollment leads to for-profit and nonprofit education clients.
“All call center Quality Assurance (QA) & monitoring teams would likely agree…”
That it’s compliance keeping them up at night. How it’s changing. How to stay ahead of it. How to be more transparent.
Teams should always be thinking about how to increase real-time quality assurance in order to stay ahead of compliance violations and guideline infractions. It’s critical to monitor and manage lead interactions while they are occurring in the present. To be able to analyze and act right
away. Having the information after the fact only does so much and places QA teams – and consequently, their clients – at a disadvantage.
How to solve this? A good first step is to implement data mining and quality software that scans call recordings in real time. It means QA teams have near-instant alerts of potential compliance issues – and can certainly sleep more soundly at night.
Kent Liao is the CEO of HANSUN, a leading ISO/TS 16949 window regulator manufacturer dedicated to providing premium quality products and exceptional customer service for over 26 years.
“The one problem that should be keeping QA monitor teams up at night is…”
How can their team add more value to the customers they serve?
As an example, customer relations, value, and service are priorities for our customers. To constantly improve our processes and systems, we have a huge database of potential questions our customers may ask. The database allows us to look up challenges quickly and efficiently and offer an immediate solution to an inquiry.
Nick Sawinyh is the Product Manager at Seomator. He is a proud father, husband, and corgi-owner. He has been working in the software industry for more than ten years now.
“The biggest problem for call center QA monitoring teams is absenteeism…”
Because most call centers are abroad, the call center agents are working at night and sleeping during the day. You also have to consider that it’s a difficult job, handling a large quantity of calls during nighttime shifts.
The percentage of absenteeism is about 11%, which does not sound extremely high, but if you only have 100 and 11 are absent, that puts a huge strain on those remaining, which lowers the quality of service.
Provide adequate breaks, and create a clean and pleasant work environment. That means comfortable and adjustable office chairs, comfortable headsets, and good quality equipment.
Some ideas to consider… Consider bonuses for those that have the least amount of absent days during a three-month period, or whatever is appropriate. If they ask for a day off for medical reasons, ask for a Dr.’s note. Try asking the local gym or a favorite restaurant hang out, as they tend to hang out together after work, for company discounts. Any clever ideas such as these will help them to be happy and healthy, thus taking fewer days off during the year.
Gregory Golinski is the digital marketing executive for YourParkingSpace.co.uk, the number one parking space sharing platform in the UK.
“What keeps us up at night is…”
The need to deliver quality customer service tailored to each client. What this means is that we’re striving to give every single one of our customers 100% of our time and energy to help them out. Our goal is to listen to them, understand what they need, and provide the best possible service, all the while maintaining a balance between speed and efficiency.
What problems are keeping your call center QA and monitoring teams up at night, and how do you overcome them?