If you’ve ever worked in a contact center, then you know that quality assurance is a time-consuming task that is often the bain of any evaluator’s existence. If you’ve never had that pleasure, imagine being in the shoes of a busy contact center supervisor tasked with reviewing the quality of calls for her team. First, she has to find a call to review which, without the aid of speech analytics to efficiently identify calls that are strategically important, is much more time consuming than it should be.

Just as she begins to listen to a call eight minutes in length, an agent interrupts her with a question. Meanwhile, she forgets to pause the recording, completely losing her place. Starting again from the beginning she realizes it’s almost lunchtime, begins feeling “hangry” (hungry + angry), her mind wanders, and again loses her place in the call. And, for good measure, she listens to the call one more time to determine if the agent demonstrated all 30 behaviors correctly on the extensive 30-question quality form she must complete.

How long does this process of reviewing a call take? Let’s chart out the steps:

Activity Duration
Select a call to review (without Speech Analytics) 8 minutes
Listen to the 8-minute call 8 minutes
Listen to the call again because you daydreamed and got hangry 8 minutes
Listen to the call a third time to track 30 behaviors 8 minutes

Complete the 30-question quality form

8 minutes


40 minutes

Admittedly, I’ve been this supervisor and can attest to the fact that, on a busy contact center floor, it’s not outlandish to spend upwards of 40 minutes reviewing a call. And that’s just one call. Consider the supervisor who is tasked with reviewing three calls per agent per week for all 15 of her agents. Doing that math, that’s 45 calls to review each week that could take as much as 30 hours out of a 40-hour workweek to complete.

Essential to quality management is the time supervisors spend reviewing interactions and coaching their agents. Without that, it’s awfully difficult to make a marked improvement to the customer service we provide. To maximize effectiveness, there are three problems to solve to make the most of this finite resource of supervisor time.

  • Problem #1- Not reviewing the right interactions.
  • Problem #2- Not reviewing the right behaviors on the interactions.
  • Problem #3- Not reviewing enough interactions.

Now let’s solve these problems in order.

Solution #1: Select customer interactions with coaching and customer experience in mind.

Let’s assume the supervisor selected a call that was 8 minutes in length because that was the average call length. Your average calls are typically the easy, routine calls and if you only review those you’ll quickly develop blind spots. Instead, I recommend varying the duration of the interactions you review and going for both longer and shorter than your average.

Longer interactions often reveal inefficiencies in the way agents navigate their tools and systems and inordinately long customer hold times that can be rectified with training and coaching. Sitting with agents on the contact center floor and listening to calls live, or adopting a quality management platform that records the agent’s screen along with the audio are great techniques for spotting efficiency gaps. On the flip side, shorter calls may reveal instances where agents aren’t giving customers enough information, leading to repeat calls.

As we select interactions with the customer experience in mind, the ability to pair quality management with speech analytics to find interactions about specific topics can be invaluable. Perhaps you just trained your agents on a new process and want to review calls about that process. Or perhaps your agents should be making an attempt at retaining customers who wish to cancel. Speech analytics can quickly identify those calls for review and coaching, adding focus to the selection process.

Solution #2: Simplify your quality form and scoring

I’ve seen many quality forms — some short and concise and some very long. I have three practical pieces of advice when creating your quality form.

First, the longer the form, the longer it will take to complete the form, and the more likely a supervisor will have to review an interaction multiple times. Somewhere between 6 and 12 questions for the form should be plenty.

This leads to the second piece of advice which is to include only those things on the form that you truly wish to track and report at the individual and team level. Chances are that you can combine multiple questions into one and still track the right behaviors. For example, you might be tempted to have four individual questions like:

  • Did the agent use the appropriately branded greeting at the start of the call?
  • Did the agent introduce themselves by name?
  • Did the agent get the customer’s name and use it naturally?
  • Did the agent greet the customer with a warm and friendly tone?

Given that all four of these items occur in the first 30 seconds of a call, they can easily be combined into one question. Here’s an example:

  • Did the agent use the appropriately branded greeting with a warm and friendly tone and did they introduce themselves by name and use the customer’s name naturally during the interaction?

The final piece of advice goes to those who have created elaborate systems of scoring, perhaps using a 1-10 scale where the reviewer has to figure out the difference between a 4 and a 6 and then justify it to the agent. This can be incredibly time consuming and subjective and reduce quality coaching sessions to haggling matches. Instead, I recommend setting a standard of excellence using a yes/no scale or a simpler 3 or 5-point scale to place more focus on the standard than earning a number.

Solution #3: Review more interactions for lower performers and spend more time coaching

All of that great work you did in the first couple of solutions (reviewing the right interactions using a simplified form) should shorten the time it takes to review customer interactions. This is great news because it gives you more time to review more customer interactions. But don’t simply increase your weekly target from 3 to 4 interactions per week per agent. Instead, use the time you’ve gained to review more interactions for your lower performers and for the newest members on the team. Also be sure to spend time with each agent reviewing interactions, coaching and modeling the right behaviors, and setting goals for future improvement.

Let’s go back to that hangry supervisor struggling to get all of her quality monitors done in a given week. Rather than struggling to meet a quota, you’ve helped her find some much-needed efficiency in the process and these solutions will connect her to a vital role in developing agents and improving the customer experience. This sounds like a great solution for me!

Want to learn more about quality management and 8x8 Contact Center? Attend our weekly live demo on Tuesdays or Thursdays.