Imagine if every customer interaction you have could make you better at your job. Imagine if you could track and measure the quality of your service and identify the areas where you can improve. Imagine if you could deliver the best customer experience possible and boost your customer satisfaction and loyalty. This is what call center quality assurance can do with you.
Call center quality assurance is a process that monitors and evaluates the performance of your contact center, using the right tools and methods. It helps you to understand your strengths and weaknesses, and to take action to enhance your service quality. With call center quality assurance, every customer interaction is an opportunity to learn and grow
This guide will walk you through the basics of Quality Assurance, Automatic Quality Assurance, its importance, and how to use it in your organization.
What is quality assurance?
Your contact center is how your business is visible to your customers. How your company responds, when a customer reaches out through one of its various touchpoints, determines their perception of their company. According to Forrester, a customer could switch providers 83% of the time just because of a single bad customer experience.
Just the way Software Quality Assurance tests the software through all the common and edge use cases, call center quality assurance allows one to improve the processes behind how the customer calls are handled. This eventually leads to better customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers are more likely to talk good about you and recommend you to their friends and family.
That measure of how likely they are to recommend you is called the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which is an important metric to keep track of as it’s an important indicator of the future growth of the company.
Call center quality assurance is not something new. It has been in place ever since call centers have been. However, the workflows have improved over time, including more recently, the availability of automated quality assurance (auto QA), which makes the task of quality assurance easier.
Call center quality assurance: Focus Areas
Quality assurance programs primarily measure agent interactions with customers in the following areas:
- Verification: For most customer service, particularly in the financial industry, the agent needs to verify who the customer is before providing the service. The authentication rules can be different from call to call, with some customers using a secret PIN or password, some opting for voice biometrics, while others answer questions directly posed by the agent on the line. Whatever the means be, if the protocol requires verification, then the call center quality assurance needs to make sure that it happens.
- Call Flow: Every type of call shall have certain best practices about how it’s to be handled. A certain script needs to be followed.
- Soft Skills: That reflects the attitude with which the agent is interacting with customers. Automated Contact Center Quality Assurance Software would generally look for certain technical parameters such as Silence before responding, Speaking rate, sentiment, and presence of overtalk over the customer. However manual quality assurance may also look for specific other body language cues that reflect empathy and desire to help.
- Call Handling – Checks whether the agent demonstrated call control and acted with urgency, addressing the right issues correctly.
- First Call Resolution – Confirm whether a customer’s issue was resolved in the first call itself and not left for a follow-up call.
- Call Drivers – It is important to keep track of the various different call drivers so that the contact center managers can recommend optimized call flows for each one of those, and track that each of those is being addressed correctly.
The actual metrics can vary based on the situation for which the contact center quality assurance is being performed such as outbound sales calls, billing queries, or customer support.
Automated call center quality assurance
Automated call center quality assurance is software-based quality assurance. It’s designed to automatically assess a call against various evaluation criteria that apply to that call. For example, in the case of verification, the system will first identify what verification protocol needs to be enforced, and then evaluate if the application is correct.
Automated call center quality assurance makes it possible to develop quick insights into the performance of your contact center. Various advantages of automated QA software include:
- Training: It can be used for fresh agent training. Since the feedback is available live, even fresh agents can monitor their areas of weakness and work on that interaction after interaction. A library of analyzed and annotated call analysis can guide the agents on best practices and expectations.
- Performance Improvement: Quantifiable metrics allow one to track the performance of call centers and identify ways to improve the performance. Day-to-day performance graphing that’s accessible per agent and also aggregates across supervisors and departments creates insights that allow the management to pinpoint exact issues and address those.
- Rapid discovery of new call drivers: Topic tracking allows rapid discovery of new issues or topic trends that may need attention. Consider the situation if you are an airline and all of a sudden you start receiving calls to rebook tickets due to bad weather at a certain airport. If the supervisor notices that trend quickly, they can develop a script on how to handle the situation and distribute that to the agents. Automated Quality Assurance software allows for such topic discovery.
- Overall customer satisfaction: Improvements in quality assurance (QA) metrics are leading indicators of improvements in customer satisfaction.
- Problem Research: It’s often necessary to research certain customer interactions in greater depth. Some of the common reasons are:
- A customer had a complaint
- The category of calls has a low first-call resolution (FCR) and needs better scripts
- It was an escalation and the objective is to minimize escalations.
No matter what the reason is, a good automated call center quality assurance software allows you to search calls based on their metadata such as the day of the call, agent name, customer name, or some other identifying criterion in combination with certain keywords, to help you quickly investigate the details and estimate the extent and prevalence of the issue.
- Market insights: Customized charts for competitor mentions and product feature mentions, combined with sentiment analysis can provide the marketing and product management teams with actionable insights.
Importance of automated call center quality assurance
Phone support continues to be the preferred method of contact for most American customers. While 44% of people choose phone support instead of chat, email, or self-service, surveys indicate that 69% of the customers would prefer to talk to a live agent on the phone.
Customer calls are often the most challenging and rewarding part of your business. Unlike chat logs and emails, you can’t easily review and analyze what happened during a call. This means that you might miss out on important insights and feedback from your customers, or risk losing their trust and loyalty.
But it also gives you a unique opportunity to connect with your customers, understand their needs and emotions, and provide them with the best service possible.
This is where automated QA software can convert all the speech to text and also analyze the speaking rate and sentiment, to provide deep insights into the activities.
As the auto QA software performs most of the routine tasks, the analyst could focus on the problem areas, coaching guidelines, and standard scripts. Today’s QA combines real-time call monitoring, conversational AI optimization, customer satisfaction surveys, market research, and product management.
A few ways that automated quality assurance improves call center performance are:
- Quality Monitoring: Automated call center quality assurance can help you monitor the quality of your calls and agents in real time or retrospectively. You can use quality monitoring to listen to live or recorded calls, review transcripts or chat logs, and score the calls based on quality metrics and checklists. You can use quality monitoring to identify issues, provide feedback, and take corrective actions.
- Quality Assurance Automation: Automated call center quality assurance can help you automate the quality assurance process and reduce manual work. You can use quality assurance automation to set up rules and triggers for scoring, flagging, and routing calls based on quality metrics and checklists. You can also use quality assurance automation to generate reports and dashboards to display the quality scores and trends.
- Quality Improvement: Automated call center quality assurance can help you improve the quality of your calls and agents over time. You can use quality improvement to set goals and targets for your quality metrics and checklists, track your progress and performance, and reward your agents for achieving or exceeding the standards. You can also use quality improvement to implement best practices and continuous learning across your organization.
- Provide feedback on how to improve training programs: Automated call center quality assurance can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your agents and provide them with constructive feedback on how to improve their performance. You can use the data from the quality metrics and checklists to assess the training needs of your agents and design effective training programs that address their gaps. For example, you can provide feedback on how to improve communication skills, product knowledge, or problem-solving skills.
- Analyze data from call center software to report on metrics like the speed of answer (ASA) and handle time (AHT): Automated call center quality assurance can help you monitor and analyze the data from your call center software to report on key operational metrics that affect your service level and efficiency. You can use the data to track metrics such as speed of answer (ASA), which is the average time it takes for an agent to answer a call, and handle time (AHT), which is the average time it takes for an agent to complete a call. You can use these metrics to evaluate the productivity and availability of your agents and optimize your staffing and scheduling decisions.
- Use sentiment analysis to track how customers feel along the customer journey: Automated call center quality assurance can help you understand how customers feel about your service and products by using sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis is a technique that uses natural language processing (NLP) to analyze the tone and emotion of the customers’ speech or text. You can use sentiment analysis to track how customers feel along the customer journey, such as before, during, and after a call. You can use this information to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.
- Use historical trends to track team performance and optimize your call center strategy: Automated call center quality assurance can help you leverage historical data to track the performance of your team and optimize your call center strategy. You can use historical data to compare the performance of different agents, teams, or campaigns over time and identify best practices or areas for improvement. You can also use historical data to forecast future demand and trends and adjust your strategy accordingly.
QA is not only a way to enhance your call center performance, but also a way to protect your business from potential legal risks. This is especially crucial if you operate in a regulated industry, such as banking or trading, where you have to comply with strict laws and rules. QA can help you document and monitor your calls for compliance, quality, and accuracy.
It can also help you identify and resolve any issues or disputes that might arise from your calls, such as customer complaints, fraud, or litigation. By using QA, you can reduce the chances of facing legal penalties, fines, or lawsuits that could harm your reputation and profitability.
Main benefits of automatic call center quality assurance software
Beyond ensuring compliance, QA programs lower costs, simplify hiring and boost revenue. Here are several noteworthy benefits of a call center quality assurance program:
- Improves customer engagement and retention Customer engagement is now the number one priority for most businesses. Recent studies reconfirm that customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. In the hospitality industry, 31% of customers will pay up to 10% more, and 10% of customers are willing to spend over 30% more for a great customer experience. In contrast, 67% of customer churn is preventable if you can resolve issues right away.
- Improved Customer Satisfaction Quality assurance metrics are objective and quantitative measures that reflect the quality of service delivery, such as speed, accuracy, resolution, and compliance. Quality assurance metrics can help contact centers monitor and improve their performance, identify issues and opportunities, and align their goals and strategies with customer needs and expectations. When combined with customer satisfaction surveys, they become a powerful tool to improve and assure customer satisfaction.
- Objective standards for your entire team Auto QA software gathers and provides insights into call center operations. Performance metrics like AHT and FCR, and specific like verification, script compliance, and proper opening and closing, offer specific targets to achieve. These key performance indicators (KPIs) serve as a benchmark to evaluate team member performance.
- Employee engagement Call centers often face high turnover rates among their employees. However, a fair and transparent quality assurance process can improve the experience for both employees and customers. A good QA manager communicates the purpose and benefits of the program, not just the metrics that are measured. Quality assurance sets clear and achievable goals and fosters a culture of trust where everyone is treated equally. When calls become difficult, QA programs can support agents with escalation options. Call monitoring can also reward high-performing agents or protect them from abusive customers. Moreover, quality assurance can enhance agent performance and customer satisfaction by resolving issues faster.
- Fast onboarding Automatic QA software can help new employees get up to speed quickly and effectively. Instead of facing a steep learning curve, new agents can access proven scripts and benchmark KPIs that guide them through the best practices. They can also review a library of ideal customer interactions and learn from the success factors and pitfalls. They can analyze calls with high average handle time or social media escalation and understand how to avoid or resolve them. By breaking down the specific call center QA metrics, automatic QA software can equip new agents with the skills and knowledge they need to excel on day one.
- Reduce Agent Churn Employees want to find meaning in their work. However, call center agents often deal with repetitive and mundane customer interactions. This pain point makes them feel detached from your company’s larger goals. A proper Quality Assurance program can help your agents connect their daily tasks to a bigger vision. For example, by prioritizing the customer’s issue above handling times, you can help your agents focus on the quality and impact of their service. Connecting call center KPIs to a deeper purpose can have a lasting and measurable effect on your agents’ motivation and retention.
How to deploy an automated call center quality assurance framework
With thousands of interactions to examine daily, call center quality assurance initiatives need focus. This focus is achieved by defining some guidelines and focus areas for your QA program, such as:
- Key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics you want to measure: Choosing the right metrics for your needs is the first step to improving your call center quality. For example, you might want to focus on customer satisfaction (CSAT) or first-call resolution (FCR), depending on your business objectives and customer expectations. To measure these metrics, you need to have a reliable and consistent method of data collection and analysis.
Different metrics require different approaches. For instance, some industries might use the absence of a callback within one week as an indicator of FCR, while others might need a more direct confirmation from the customer. You can use various techniques to obtain customer feedback, such as asking them to rate their satisfaction at the end of the call, sending them a follow-up survey via email or SMS, or using automatic sentiment analysis to gauge their emotions. By using these techniques, you can track and improve your metrics over time.
- Action plan to improve the customer experience: Collecting and analyzing data is not enough to improve the customer experience. You also need to have a process in place for turning insights into action. This means that you need to use the data to make changes or improvements in your call center operations or policies. For example, you might need to update your agent scripts to reflect the customer feedback or preferences. Or you might need to create a Quality Standard Definition Document (QSDD), which is a document that outlines the criteria and expectations for evaluating the quality of your calls and agents. A QSDD can help you standardize and communicate your quality assurance goals and methods across your team.
If you are starting fresh, you should first focus on the operational quality assurance framework.
An operational QA approach focuses on measuring the real-time quality of service. You will focus on immediate concerns like:
- Were the agents following the specified protocols and procedures?
- Where are your agents struggling?
- Who are your lowest performers?
- What are the areas of focus for agent training?
- How are the quality benchmarks changing over time?
If you are using the CallAI framework, the protocols and scripts will be all programmed into a dashboard, that you can manage routinely. That would allow you to pinpoint the specific procedures or protocols that are not being completely followed, or who the lowest performers are.
The operational approach puts the spotlight on your agents and supervisors. You should be able to leverage your auto QA framework to improve and optimize the performance of your agents and their coaches.
Periodically review the performance data with your agents. Auto QA software such as CallAI gives agents access to a performance dashboard that they can already use to monitor most of their metrics. You should deep dive into a subset of calls and provide more subtle feedback also on a frequent periodic basis to ensure constant quality improvement.
A tactical approach skips individual issues to focus on the underlying root causes and solutions to improve the quality of service. For example, a tactical approach will tackle issues like:
- Where are workflows being blocked?
- Can you change scripts or update processes to free up your caller flow?
- Is your team struggling with knowledge gaps?
- How do reassign resources or incorporate focused training to better align the skills with the needs of the organisation?
- Are there organizational issues that need to be addressed?
- What are the key drivers for agent churn?
- What are the rough edges in an employee’s journey from recruitment to training to providing service?
Tactical questions require a dashboard that can aggregate your research insights and data across numerous calls to help you analyze specific trends. You could use the Call research feature of the auto QA software to test your hypothesis, and then validate by observing trends over time. For example, the custom charts feature of CallAI allows you to focus on specific aspects (such as escalation requests, product or feature mentions and competitor mentions) and obtain a quantitative and holistic view of those aspects.
A tactical approach requires deeper analysis but it can have a bigger impact on the quality of service at your contact center.
The strategic QA approach aims to ensure your call center aligns with your organization’s vision.
It’s very much oriented to the big-picture analysis to introduce structural and cultural shifts that address solutions such as:
- Ways to transform customer support and improve account retention.
- identify and fill gaps that would convert my otherwise satisfied customers into champions for the organization.
The strategic framework is a long-term and high-level approach to quality assurance that aims to improve your customer experience. It focuses on the overall satisfaction and loyalty of your customers, as well as the alignment of your service with your business vision and values. Example measures that you can use to assess your customer experience are:
• Net Promoter Score (NPS): This is a measure of how likely your customers are to recommend your service to others. It is calculated by asking your customers to rate on a scale of 0 to 10 how likely they are to refer your service to a friend or colleague. You can then subtract the percentage of detractors (those who rate 0 to 6) from the percentage of promoters (those who rate 9 or 10) to get your NPS score. A higher NPS score indicates a higher level of customer loyalty and advocacy.
• Customer Effort Score (CES): This is a measure of how easy or difficult it is for your customers to get their issues resolved or their needs met by your service. It is calculated by asking your customers to rate on a scale of 1 to 7 how much effort they had to put in to interact with your service. A lower CES score indicates a lower level of customer frustration and a higher level of customer retention.
The strategic framework is different from the tactical and operational frameworks, which are more short-term and low-level approaches to quality assurance. The tactical framework focuses on the quality of individual interactions and agents, such as speed, accuracy, resolution, and compliance. The operational framework focuses on the efficiency and effectiveness of your service delivery and processes, such as staffing, scheduling, scripting, and escalation. These frameworks are more concerned with the performance and productivity of your service, rather than the perception and emotion of your customers.
However, It’s important to focus on operational first, then tactical before jumping to the strategic approach. The most successful call centers leverage all of the QA frameworks at any given time.
Call center quality management best practices
Regardless of which QA approach you are focusing on, there are a few common best practices that can drive a successful QA program. These best practices form the universal principles that are applicable regardless of whether your organization delivers products or services, and is small or large.
Establish QA criteria early and revise them often
To provide a better experience, your team needs to understand what ‘better’ means. Your QA program should clearly define and communicate the metrics and KPIs that matter most for your business and your customers. Your metrics should be visible and consistent across your team and updated regularly. But metrics are not enough.
You also need to provide guidance and support for your agents on how to handle difficult callers and comply with regulations like the Do Not Call (DNC) registry. You can use consistent greetings and scripts to structure your interactions and ensure quality standards. You can also use a Quality Standards Definition Document (QSDD) to share the criteria that you use to measure and evaluate your agents’ performance.
Choose the right software
The contact center quality assurance software makes all the difference with ease of analyzing and acting on the calls your agents make throughout the day. For example, CallAI allows you to:
- Set up and monitor your custom performance dashboard that gives you views at the agent level, supervisor level, and a whole host of other group levels that can be customized for your organization.
- Conduct call research, allowing you to address concerns and complaints, and to verify your concerns or queries about certain conversation trends.
- Define and track your own call drivers.
- Track various performance indicators such as speaking rate, sentiment, overtalk, unusual language, and prohibited words.
- Define your own custom charts.
- Drill down all the way to individual call levels from any chart.
With the right software, quality assurance is no longer about the mechanics, but more about the insight and right management.
Assign a person (or a team) to manage QA
Quality assurance is a vital function that requires dedicated attention and expertise. Call center managers and team leaders may not have the time or resources to handle quality assurance effectively. Therefore, it may be beneficial to hire a quality assurance manager or a team of QA specialists who can oversee and improve the QA process. QA managers or specialists can monitor and evaluate calls, provide feedback and coaching, and update training materials. If budget is a constraint, you can also consider outsourcing your QA process to a professional service provider.
Create a schedule
QA scheduling involves two aspects: the schedule of the QA process and the schedule of the agents. The schedule of the QA process determines when the QA team will perform various activities, such as evaluations, calibrations, and data analysis. A consistent QA schedule ensures that you are covering a sufficient and representative sample of calls. It also helps to increase employee engagement and performance by providing regular and constructive feedback.
The schedule of the agents determines how well they follow their assigned shifts and remain available for calls. A low schedule adherence can lead to a high rate of abandoned calls and customer dissatisfaction. However, you cannot expect your agents to be available 100% of the time. You need to set realistic and flexible schedules that account for their breaks, training, and personal needs. You also need to align your schedules with your peak hours to ensure that you have enough agents to handle the demand
Give agents qualitative and quantitative feedback
You can use CallAI auto QA scorecards and give agents direct access to their scorecards so that they can easily track their progress. For any metric that is not covered by that QA scoresheet, you should plan to have routine meetings with your agents to update them on those criteria. Remember to provide constant feedback on your use of the automatic call center QA software. Such feedback allows the QA company to focus on your needs and add new features to address those.
Don’t ignore the power of manual reviews
Once your automated call center quality monitoring software has been set up, you may get into the mode of just reviewing the metrics there. Don’t! Auto QA is great for operational management but you will get the tactical and strategic QA advantage only when you are diving a little deeper with the manual review on some calls.
Call research and keywords features of CallAI provide great tools to perform your research and find conversations of interest. Once you have an idea of what you want to improve, one possibility is to create a custom dashboard where you pull out your ideas into a metric that can be tracked in the QA software, and then correlate that with the KPIs that are important to your organization.
Automatic call center quality assurance is a powerful tool to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. By using automatic QA software, you can monitor and evaluate the quality of your calls and agents, provide feedback and training, and improve your service delivery and efficiency. You can also gain valuable insights into your customers’ needs, preferences, and sentiments, as well as your products’ strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. You can use these insights to refine your marketing strategies, product development, and competitive advantage. Automatic call center quality assurance can help you retain your existing customers and attract new ones, leading to increased revenue and growth for your company.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Nagendra Kumar Goel is the founder and CEO of GoVivace Inc., a company that provides speech and language technology solutions for various domains and applications. He established GoVivace in 2009 with a vision to create innovative and user-friendly products that leverage the power of artificial intelligence and natural language processing. He has over 20 years of experience in the research and development of speech recognition, speech synthesis, speaker identification, and natural language understanding systems.
Dr. Goel has a strong academic background and a passion for science and technology. He graduated with a B.Tech degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, one of the most prestigious engineering institutes in India. He then pursued his Ph.D. degree from The Johns Hopkins University, where he specialized in speech recognition and language technology under the guidance of Professor Frederick Jelinek, a pioneer in the field. He has published several papers and patents on various topics related to speech and language processing.
Dr. Goel is not only a successful entrepreneur and scientist but also a man of diverse interests and hobbies. He enjoys listening to Indian classical music, especially the sitar and the tabla. He is also fond of photography and likes to capture the beauty of nature and culture. He is an adventurous person who loves to explore new places and experiences. He has a glider pilot license and has flown over the scenic landscapes of Maryland and Virginia. However, he admits that he has not been able to indulge his gliding interest in recent years due to his busy work schedule.
Dr. Goel is a visionary leader who inspires his team with his scientific expertise and customer-oriented approach. He is always looking for new challenges and opportunities to improve and expand his products and services. He believes that speech and language technology can make a positive impact on the world by enhancing communication, education, entertainment, and accessibility. He strives to make GoVivace a leading company in the field of speech and language technology