When it comes to customer service, having just one poor experience from your call center can chase your customers away. That’s why it’s crucial to provide nothing but exceptional service to your customers.
Fortunately, implementing a call center quality assurance program can help you out here.
Call center quality assurance (QA) ensures your call center performs according to industry standards and customer expectations.
In this article, we’ll explore what call center QA is and the three frameworks you can use to analyze agent performance data.
This article contains:
(Click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
- What is Call Center Quality Assurance?
- 3 Call Center Quality Assurance Frameworks
- 3 Key Software Components for Call Center Quality Assurance
- 10 Simple Ways to Improve Your Call Center Quality Assurance Scores
What is call center quality assurance?
Call center quality assurance (QA) is the continuous observation and analysis of your agents’ interactions with customers to ensure smooth and consistent customer service.
A robust customer service quality assurance process helps you:
- Identify areas for agent training.
- Increase employee engagement.
- Maintain call quality standards.
- Boost customer experience.
- Increase customer retention.
Call center QA involves recording and screening customer calls. Companies typically use quality management software for this.
However, the human touch of a quality analyst is invaluable when it comes to analyzing qualities such as professionalism, positivity, and courtesy.
A human can rate these qualities in a QA scorecard for each agent and each customer interaction. They can then discuss these scores and suggestions for improving the overall customer experience through regular calibration sessions.
What is a calibration session?
In a call center calibration session, agents, their team leaders, and the quality assurance specialist come together to discuss how agents handled customer calls, and the analyst evaluated their performance.
It’s a critical system to ensure everyone is on the same page.
However, keeping the QA process in-house can lead to biases. So, you may consider outsourcing QA instead.
In outsourcing, the quality assurance analyst can provide an objective point of view and give unbiased quality program recommendations. These recommendations can show you how to improve key call center metrics while avoiding past mistakes.
3 call center quality assurance frameworks
A QA framework acts as a guideline to help you monitor and analyze agent performance data based on specific criteria.
While there are three common frameworks, they’re not mutually exclusive.
For ideal QA management, we recommend using a combination of all three at different levels of your call center operations.
1. Operational QA
As the simplest way to start measuring your day-to-day processes, the operational framework is where most companies begin their QA program.
The operational QA framework is all about consistency, which includes:
- Measuring call center agent performance as a daily process.
- Using QA to identify which agents need further training.
- Meeting a quota of scores per month.
- Performing monthly evaluations.
However, this is only on a micro-level, making long-term improvement challenging to achieve.
2. Tactical QA
The tactical framework analyzes monthly or yearly data to look at the bigger picture.
With a focus on growth and scalability, this mid-level process prioritizes:
- Improving customer retention.
- Reducing churn by investing in agent coaching.
- Looking for the root causes of poor customer service.
- Highlighting knowledge gaps.
- Identifying broken workflows.
It requires more bigger-picture thinking and foresight so your QA team can offer a better quality of service. The solutions may involve restructuring or even retraining agents, and the effects might not be instantly noticeable.
3. Strategic QA
The highest level of quality assurance, a strategic framework looks at how to achieve long-term company-wide goals.
Using a top-down approach, this framework ensures your QA team is aligned with your overarching business goals.
The focus here is to:
- Increase customer loyalty.
- Utilize QA as a differentiator.
- Understand the relationship between customer service, customer sentiment, and QA to improve your Net Promoter Score (NPS).
- Use predictive behavior models to increase purchasing.
It encourages call center managers to develop a culture of respect and mutual understanding by listening to agent feedback and avoiding micromanaging.
All these factors contribute to overall employee satisfaction.
Systematically adopting the three frameworks will help grow your call center. But you’ll need the right QA software to analyze the raw data and make the necessary changes.
Let’s look at the three essential components of any call center QA software.
3 key software components for call center quality assurance
There are many types of customer service tracking software on the market to help you evaluate QA.
Most of these solutions will provide end-to-end tracking, but that isn’t the only feature you should look for in a QA solution. It’s best for you to choose one with most of the components below.
1. Call recording
The most common method of QA evaluation, the majority of call center recording software can record all phone calls — inbound and outbound.
The system allows you to playback these recordings at a later time for research and analysis.
Modern call recording software doesn’t just capture voice calls but also provides screen recording solutions.
Before using this software, ensure your company’s and the call center’s compliance with regulatory bodies such as the PCI DSS, especially when dealing with sensitive banking information.
2. Data-driven quality control
AI-driven automation and analytic tools can provide actionable insight into customer behavior.
These analytics also help add layers to the QA process, allowing you to evaluate an agent’s performance.
A) Desktop monitoring
Monitoring an agent’s desktop can help you understand how they utilize their time and improve agent productivity.
Most screen monitoring software allows you to track which sites the individual agent visits and tag specific sites as approved or unapproved for work.
For instance, if your contact center provides social media support, Facebook and Instagram might need to be on the approved list.
You can specify these approved sites and help increase employee productivity using tools like Time Doctor. Trusted by small as well as big businesses alike, Time Doctor allows you to track the time agents spend on tasks and other key performance metrics.
B) Live monitoring
Live monitoring can include both desktop and audio call monitoring.
It’s handy for keeping an eye on new agents. Supervisors can monitor the live customer call to ensure their training is paying off.
Supervisors should also routinely monitor agents’ calls to ensure they follow the necessary procedures and stay on script.
You can also utilize live call monitoring to lend your agent support during a difficult customer call through call whispering. It allows you to give real-time verbal advice and facilitate positive interactions.
C) Speech analytics
Speech analytics can help you decipher and analyze these calls for specific phrases and keywords relevant to your business.
Speech analytics also help you capture the Voice of the Customer (VoC) by turning raw recording into data with actionable insights.
By automating this process, you can make sure that all customer calls are analyzed and identified as relevant or not.
D) Sentiment analysis
Call centers frequently use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure their progress and success.
One of these is customer sentiment.
It’s an automated process where the software looks at specific word utterances and the context of those words.
For instance, if most inbound calls feature a negative sentiment like “too expensive,” maybe you need to offer discounts. However, the same expression may be used as a comparison to say your products/services are better priced.
So, the context of the conversation is equally important.
For meaningful insights into the overall customer experience, you should consider running the sentiment analysis on both the customer’s and the agent’s voice.
E) Metadata integration
Every call comes with its metadata or additional data, which is automatically attached to the call.
Typically, you’ll find post-interaction surveys attached with the whole call recording and transcription.
3. Post-call customer survey
Surveys are the best way of gaining insight into your customers’ perceptions of your brand and their experiences with your customer service team.
Customers often give suggestions for improvement, and implementing them can go a long way towards customer retention. These surveys can also provide a different dimension to agent evaluations.
By collecting and utilizing surveys, you can get a 360-degree view of each customer interaction from all points of view.
You can then easily measure and find out your call center QA scores.
But what if they’re low?
No problem, we’ll cover some ways you can improve your QA scores all across the board.
10 simple ways to improve your call center quality assurance scores
Improving quality assurance in a call center is a constant process rather than a one-and-done approach.
Let’s explore ten easy ways you can improve your call center’s QA.
1. Have a clear QA strategy
You can’t accurately measure your agents’ performance without specific benchmarks and quality standards in place.
Define what great customer service means and how you’ll measure it through specific metrics.
Some commonly used call center metrics are:
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT).
- Average Handling Time (AHT).
- First Call Resolution (FCR).
- Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Ideally, you should review these stats weekly to ensure continuous improvement.
2. Assign a QA evaluator
Once you’ve decided on a strategy, you should assign a quality assurance manager who can specifically manage your QA.
If roles are undefined, it could lead to confusion and a lack of accountability.
However, making a person or team in charge of the quality assurance process can help everything go smoothly.
3. Monitor all customer support channels
If you offer omnichannel support, you probably have agents dedicated to social media, phone support, live chat, etc.
All these dimensions require their own quality assurance program.
As customer expectations and, in turn, the experience will differ across channels, the QA metrics you use will vary accordingly.
Quality monitoring of all support channels also allows you to gain a birds-eye view of the situation. If the quality of service is inequal on any channel, you can offer agent coaching sessions.
4. Involve agents in creating your QA checklist
Involving your agents in the QA process helps them feel a sense of ownership about it.
Additionally, since they’re on the frontline, they might have suggestions about tracking their work quality and novel QA practices.
Creating a process together also fosters a sense of teamwork and camaraderie, leading to a positive work environment.
5. Hire well and train regularly
The best way to optimize your call center performance is by hiring people committed to continuous improvement.
Starting with supervisors and managers, they need to be equipped with the appropriate skill sets to help agents improve.
You also need to ensure that all agents receive constant and consistent training to handle real-life customer interactions. For this, you can use previously recorded customer calls.
You should periodically revamp your training programs with suggestions from a QA specialist to provide high-quality customer service.
6. Promote self-monitoring and encourage collaboration
Self–evaluations are a trusted form of performance management. It allows agents to review the day without external pressure.
You can encourage them to conduct a self-review at the end of the day while the calls are still fresh in their minds. These small changes can help agents be proactive about improving their productivity.
You can also ask agents to practice calls with each other. This will allow them to bond and share tips about handling certain situations.
7. Let agents dispute evaluations
There will be times when customer feedback about an individual agent is negative.
However, rather than simply taking it at face value, allow your agent to discuss the feedback with you.
Maybe they were dealing with a demanding customer who has often left negative feedback. Perhaps it was a tricky situation, and your agent didn’t have the necessary training to help the customer.
You can corroborate the same by reviewing the call recordings.
Regardless, allowing your agent to dispute their feedback creates an open and honest environment, making them feel truly heard in the company.
8. Share real-time statistics with your team
Aim to be transparent with your customer support team — about their evaluations, the methods for said evaluations, and how they’re improving.
When your employees see that all their efforts lead to measurable change, they’ll feel more engaged with the company.
Since employee engagement is directly linked to higher employee productivity, it’ll lead to better customer service and higher CSAT scores.
9. Focus on constructive feedback
Employees often leave companies as they feel overly criticized and put under a microscope. An easy way to lower agent attrition is by focusing on positive and constructive feedback.
When you frame the feedback as constructive, the agent knows where they’re going wrong and how to improve. Giving positive feedback also makes employees more open to constructive feedback.
10. Reward your agents
Another way you can motivate agents is by incentivizing their performance. These programs can help agents feel appreciated and improve their performance.
You can create bonuses or prizes around quality assurance areas where the team could use a boost. These improvements can also go into the employee’s evaluation form, and if they keep it consistent, they can receive a bonus or paid time off.
By doing so, you can foster healthy competition, recognize your agents’ performance, and improve customer satisfaction.
Check out our call center best practices guide for more ideas.
Call center QA focuses on improving customer experience by analyzing your agent’s performance.
But depending on the communication channel, the metrics, evaluation process, and recommendations will differ. As a result, you can gain valuable insight into every aspect of your call center’s performance.
Use the information and tips we covered here to maintain the quality standards your customers ask for, keep your employees happy, and increase your profit margins.
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.