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Effective Call Center Management: Call Quality


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Optimized call center performance requires the collection of data measuring four categories of equally important metrics: quality, responsiveness, productivity and costs. The below information discusses the measurement of quality in the call center as well as the metrics used to benchmark quality for comparison with other operations.

 

Defining Call Quality

Measuring the quality of the call requires a thorough assessment that includes the degree to which agents understand the needs and intentions of callers. Also, the accuracy with which agents record call details affects call quality along with the appropriateness of the responses provided to callers.

Global benchmarks for quality-related metrics include a first call resolution rate of 70 to 75%. Additionally, a customer satisfaction rate of 90% indicates parity with other call centers. The measurement of quality also includes some quality assurance metrics that have no convenient basis for global comparison. Such metrics include how well agents answer and close calls and the effort used to arrive at a resolution.

 

Evaluating Call Quality

Managers typically use manual methods for evaluating call quality such as live call monitoring and agent observation. Also, reviews of recorded calls can also contribute to quality assessments. During the course of the call, managers and supervisors often use form-based call scoring evaluation to ensure a consistent, thorough and objective performance appraisal.

Call quality often depends on how well agents adhere to scripts such as prescribed opening greetings to maintain the appropriateness of their speech. Additionally, agents get rated on how professional and courteous they are while interacting with callers. Agents also get quality points when they resolve calls during the first contact with customers.

Agents who accurately document calls provide valuable information that can help serve the same customer in the future. Additionally, call records contribute to databases that can improve the speed and accuracy of subsequent customer issues. Finally, grammar and spelling play a role in quality, especially in text, email and chat communications because they reflect on the professionalism of the company.

 

Improving Call Quality in the Call Center

High quality in the call center and effective call resolution go hand-in-hand. With this in mind, companies can act to resolve discrepancies uncovered through quality assessments. To begin with, managers should implement procedures for reviewing and scoring customer contacts. Additionally, they can implement the following tactics to improve quality.

Providing Individual and Group Training

A well-trained staff begins with effective hiring and onboarding processes and continues with a well-designed program for agent training. When agents understand applicable policies and procedures, they have a good chance of meeting quality standards.

Additionally, agents should receive product training so they can better understand customer issues. Although group training can improve call center quality scores, additional personalized coaching for poorly performing agents can also effect significant quality improvements.

Motivating Employees

Agents can become discouraged and complacent as barrages of complaints from customers and managers wear them down. In the light of human nature, call centers should implement strategies to strengthen morale and boost motivation.

Gamification in the workplace uses the same principles of intrinsic motivation that make video console games successful. By creating environments that include overcoming obstacles, earning badges and rising to higher levels, gamification can often motivate agents to improve their knowledge and capabilities while improving the quality of their performance.

Reducing Agent Retention

When agents quit, they take all their knowledge and experience with them. In their place, new recruits face daunting learning curves and operational challenges that, by definition, cause quality problems. As a result, call centers with “revolving doors” have persistent issues with their quality scores.

Agent retention often depends on factors other than salary. For example, call-center agents often quit because of high-stress levels. Managers can address these types of problems by improving agent training and encouraging open communications.

Looking for Improvement

Changing circumstances for customers and the business meaning that the call center environment is always fluid. Even after implementing successful strategies, managers cannot afford to stop monitoring performance and looking for ways to adapt. Failure to pursue continuous improvement can result in systemic failures that require periodic and disruptive overhauls.

Obtaining Quality Call Center Software

Call center solutions exist that can facilitate call monitoring and reporting and provide tools that managers and supervisors can use for real-time intervention in poor quality calls. The software can also help in the methodical and balanced scoring of calls to create a more accurate measurement of call quality at the agent and call center level.

Conducting Call Monitoring

A substantial portion of assessing call quality requires expensive human participation. Although call centers desire to control and reduce expenses, sometimes the results gained from call monitoring can easily cover the cost of the additional labor.

Rather than attempting to monitor every quality indicator, managers should learn which key performance indicators and their call require the most attention. By focusing available resources on the biggest problems, call centers can achieve the largest possible gains in the shortest amount of time.

Using Standardized Evaluation Process

Agents can become resentful if they feel that their peers receive preferential treatment and evaluations. Similarly, the accuracy of quality assessments can depend on the objectivity of the assessor. Consequently, all managers and supervisors should receive training so they can consistently and objectively score agents. Also, when a uniform standard is in place, managers have better quality information to act upon.

Engaging Agents

In light of the resource intensive nature of some quality assessment tactics, call centers can benefit by engaging agents in the assessment of call quality. Doing this makes improving quality a team effort and has the added benefit of ensuring that agents are fully aware of the performance indicators that affect quality.

Keeping the Lines of Communication Open

Rather than lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce on underperforming agents, managers should routinely interact with agents and provide immediate constructive feedback did can immediately improved performance rather than waiting for a formal evaluation. Additionally, agents should be encouraged to offer feedback to their supervisors and managers without fear of criticism or retribution.

 

Call quality is an essential component of call center performance. For this reason, effective call center management must involve the continuous monitoring and improvement of quality. By understanding the key performance indicators associated with call quality and by taking an active role in training, managers can improve customer satisfaction, reduce operational costs and give their company a competitive edge.

 

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