There’s no doubt that in today’s business environment customer experience is the issue of the day.
Remember all those predictions that were being made in the 2010s that went something like ‘by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator’? Well, it’s 2020 now and they weren’t mistaken.
That’s because, in today’s business-customer relationship, the power lies clearly with the customer. With so much competition in the marketplace, it’s easy for dissatisfied consumers to simply walk away. 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of bad customer service.
On the other side of this coin though, lies opportunity. Companies that are able to provide a great customer experience that makes them stand out from their rivals can expect to see very real results in the form of increased revenue.
The Temkin Group found that companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to earn, on average, an additional $700 million within 3 years of investing in customer experience. And, research by Adobe has shown that 36% of companies on the forefront of customer experience said they exceeded their top business goal by a significant margin.
The term ‘customer experience’ encompasses so much. It can relate to anything from your app and website’s UI to your returns policy to your in-branch services if your business has brick-and-mortar locations.
However, there is no doubt that your contact center plays a huge role. And, with the perception still alive that contacting a company is too often a time-consuming and frustrating experience, there is a huge opportunity to defy customer expectations and generate a lot of goodwill. We all know the feeling of being pleasantly surprised by a friendly, efficient, and effective interaction with a company. These are the things that not only keep customers loyal, but can actually turn them into word of mouth advocates for your brand.
This is where we get to quality management. If you want to get serious about customer experience then you have to get serious about quality management.
The customer interactions that your agents are handling, whether on the phone or over digital channels, are hugely important. During that conversation, from the customer’s perspective, your agent is your business. Having robust, data-driven processes in place to effectively monitor, evaluate, and learn from these interactions is absolutely critical. This is what is going to allow you to establish a cycle of learning and improving that will drive up agent performance and ensure quality. Ultimately, the goal is to provide more delightful interactions that solve customer problems quickly.
However, this cycle, while simple in concept, is simply not a reality in many of today’s contact centers. A large proportion of quality managers are still reliant on slow, laborious, manual processes to monitor and score calls, and digital interactions involving things like:
- Manual, ‘random’ selection of calls and interaction transcripts to review by quality managers
- Downloading these calls and interactions locally to a desktop as audio files for playback
- Scoring calls and interactions manually using spread-sheet based scorecards
- Distributing recordings and scorecards as email attachments
- Using spreadsheet formulas or other resource-heavy means to aggregate and analyze results.
If this all sounds familiar, then don’t worry, you aren’t alone. However, an approach like this does have a lot of shortcomings, including but not limited to:
- Biased call selection by quality managers to make scoring their quota of interactions quicker and easier.
- Increased risk of customer data breaches as a result of moving around call recordings and interactions transcripts and more work as a result of having to encrypt and decrypt files.
- Huge use of quality managers’ resource giving them less time to work directly with agents
- Slow turnaround time in getting useful information back from the evaluation process
- Difficulty in conducting in-depth analysis of QM data to uncover important patterns and trends.
So then how to move on from this. These days, with the growing relevance and usability of AI and automation, there is a lot of talk of using speech analytics to fully automate the QM process.
While this is possible, it is not something that you’ll be able to turn on overnight. You will need to test, learn, and build towards it over time. That path is going to look something like this:
You may feel that a fully automated system is not necessary for the type or scale of operation that you’re running. However, this path is designed to deliver value at every stage, not just if you get to the end.
Rather than covering this whole journey in detail, in this blog, we just want to cover the key things you should be considering when starting to move away from manual QM.
1. Start recording everything
In order to get a more holistic picture of what is happening in your contact center you need to record everything. This means doing two key things beyond standard practice call recording:
Being able to access synchronized call and screen recordings will give quality managers the full story of the interaction when they come to review. They will be able to assess whether agents are following procedures effectively and compliantly and are not engaged in on-screen distractions. This can be particularly useful when managing a remote workforce.
Some solutions will also allow you to view speaker separated audio visualization as you play back. This can help to quickly identify problems like talk-over or excessive silent-time without having to review the entire call.
Speaker separated audio visualization can help you to quickly identify things like talk-over or excessive silent time without having to review the entire call
You can’t get the whole picture if you aren’t also recording your digital interactions in some way. At a minimum, this should be via transcripts, but screen recording can also be useful here too, especially if you want to playback the interaction in real-time.
2. Develop custom scorecards
Once you are set up to record all interactions, you need to be able to score them effectively. Rather than relying on spreadsheets, think about whether you are able to leverage a scorecard solution that is integrated into your contact center platform.
Different campaigns, channels, services etc. all have different associated compliance requirements that need to be monitored and assessed. These are also subject to change. Being able to create, edit, score, and automatically link these scorecards to relevant calls and digital interactions in one platform allows for a much smoother and more effective QM process.
3. Create intelligent workflows for quality managers
Recording everything is best practice, but it would be impossible to review and score every interaction. As we identified earlier, manual selection by managers can be biased, and certainly not effective at picking the most important interactions for review.
So, think about how you might create workflows that surface the most important calls and transcripts and generate lists of interactions for quality managers to review.
You can use metadata to search for calls that are more likely to be significant or problematic. For example:
- Calls from new or underperforming agents
- Calls for a new service, campaign or promotion
- Calls with a handle-time significantly above average
- Calls with specific disposition codes like promise-to-pay or refusal.
4. Leverage call and screen recordings alongside scorecards for agent feedback
Call scoring in and of itself is not particularly useful. It’s only if you can use completed scorecards to address issues that you can improve future performance. And, scorecards themselves are only really useful in context.
Therefore, to coach agents effectively, explore ways in which you can distribute synchronized call and screen recordings to them alongside completed scorecards. Some solutions will also allow you to tag the visualized audio of the call recording in order to leave targeted, unambiguous feedback notes.
5. Understand quality trends and how they affect your business outcomes and customer satisfaction
In order to understand performance and quality data more holistically, identify wider training and development opportunities, and see how QM scores affect other business areas, you need to dig deeper into the data.
Hopefully, if you start to create more robust monitoring and evaluation processes, then you will be able to start making your QM data more useful and accessible.
The next step will be to incorporate data into your wider business intelligence and performance analytics efforts. This should allow you to see how your agents’ performance, from an individual up to a whole contact center level, is affecting business outcomes, customer satisfaction, efficiency, and more.
By looking at these wider trends over time you will be able to identify broader training and development opportunities for your agents. It may also eventually be able to inform strategic business decisions, for example, matching specific contact types or customers to highly qualified agents.
And, by comparing directly against customer satisfaction survey data, you’ll be able to see how agent performance is affecting customer experience.
6. Support wider training and development
One-on-one coaching of agents is important, but once you have unlocked your QM data and can see broader performance trends, it’s likely that you’ll identify wider training and development needs.
Again, if you are relying on manual processes to deliver training, like resources attached via email, or sporadic, in-person sessions, then you might want to consider an upgrade.
There are a lot of eLearning solutions out there for contact centers that can make the delivery and tracking of training far more streamlined and less labor-intensive.
These will allow you to create a library of eLearning resources using almost any file type (you can often even include your own call and screen recordings as resources). This allows for a highly bespoke, targeted training strategy.
Assignments can be tracked by managers from their desktop, with agents providing acknowledgment of tasks received and notice of completion. This enables training that is easy to manage and track, especially if your workforce is operating remotely or from multiple locations.
Continue the cycle
So there are our first steps to help you begin to move on from a fully manual QM process. By going through these you should be able to establish an initial cycle of monitoring, evaluating, coaching, analyzing, and training in your contact center.
You’ll be able to develop this cycle as you continually learn from it, allowing you to improve processes, refine scorecards, and provide more effective coaching to your agents. Eventually, you may even want to start introducing technology like speech analytics to begin moving towards automation.
Look into what products and platforms are available to help you implement something like this. There are trade-offs between best-in-class products for individual elements like, for example, eLearning, and unified contact center software solutions that will allow you to create connected workflows more easily.
LiveVox is a next-generation contact center platform that powers more than 14 Billion interactions a year. We seamlessly integrate omnichannel communications, CRM, and WFO capabilities to deliver an exceptional agent and customer experience, while reducing compliance risk. Our reliable, easy-to-use technology enables effective engagement strategies on communication channels of choice to drive performance in your contact center. Our battle-tested risk mitigation and security tools help clients maximize their potential in an ever-changing business environment. With 20 years of pure cloud expertise LiveVox is at the forefront of cloud contact center innovation. Our more than 450 global employees are headquartered in San Francisco; with offices in Atlanta, Denver, New York City, St. Louis, Medellin, Colombia, and Bangalore, India.