5 Mistakes to Avoid for Effective Quality Monitoring in the Contact Center


When I entered the contact center world nearly two decades ago, I can assure you that I wasn’t freshly equipped with a college degree in contact center management. Like many careers, my success and longevity have a lot to do with the ability to keep learning and continuously improving. And this learning comes in many forms including mentorship from others, books and articles, and the good ole school of hard knocks.

As I ponder the topic of effective quality monitoring in the contact center, I can’t help but recall mistakes I’ve either made firsthand or witnessed that have taught me some valuable lessons. It’s in that spirit that I present five mistakes and offer some recommendations to help you avoid them.

Mistake #1: Attempt to monitor customer interactions on a busy contact center floor

One of the primary functions of a supervisor or manager is to support the frontline agents as they support customers. And the difficulty of this responsibility is never more apparent than when new agents are present in the contact center, asking questions about seemingly every call. Any attempts on the part of a supervisor to monitor customer interactions while being constantly interrupted with questions from agents isn’t fair to the agents and leads to frustration and a lack of productivity for the supervisor.

Recommendation: Monitoring customer interactions is a priority so create a space away from the contact center floor with minimal distraction. Be sure to communicate your status to the team and let the agents know who to go to for help in your absence.

Mistake #2: Waiting for the perfect time to monitor customer interactions

As a manager there were days where I charged to my desk first thing in the morning, bound and determined to complete 5 quality monitors within the first hour of my shift. While I had great intentions I also spent much of the morning responding to email, handling escalations, and helping agents. By the time lunch rolled around I had only listened to one call and completed half of the quality form. While my intentions were good, I failed to schedule the time to focus on quality.

Recommendation: Similar to the first point, there will ALWAYS be other people, priorities and distractions vying for your attention. You must be intentional about scheduling time to focus on quality. This also means that leaders need to help run interference for their supervisors to ensure that they have time for this important task.

Mistake #3: Avoid the extra-long interactions

A common practice when selecting customer interactions to review, especially calls, is to review calls of average length. When supervisors are tasked with reviewing a large number of interactions each month, can you blame them for reviewing three 10 minute calls as opposed to one 30 minute call?

The problem with this approach is that we miss out on opportunities to improve the way agents handle those long interactions. Long customer interactions can indicate any number of things like inefficient use of tools and systems, excessively long hold times, and challenging issues that agents are not empowered to solve. In the case of newer agents, these calls are opportunities to continue their development toward full proficiency.

Recommendation: Make it a point to review some long interactions on a regular basis. With 8x8 Quality Management and Speech Analytics, the ability to see long hold times on the call, accelerate call playback by 1.5 or 2 times and use screen recording to see spot how agents are using their tools are some great ways for quality reviewers to more efficiently review long calls.

Mistake #4: Avoid the extra short interactions

On the other end of the spectrum, you might be tempted to skip over those short calls, which surface a whole different set of issues. In a past job we once had an agent with exceptionally short handle times — so much so that she may have been lauded for her efficiency. But not so fast. This particular agent was answering the phone and instantly muting the microphone on her headset. Everyone in the contact center would hear her say, “Thank you for calling ACME. This is Jane. How can I help you,” but the customer heard nothing and eventually had to hang up and call again. The alarming part was that the agent got away with this behavior for quite a while because we weren’t reviewing the short calls.

That was an extreme case of work avoidance by an agent but interactions that are too short can also reveal that agents are rushing customers off the phone, talking too fast, or not providing complete solutions.

Recommendation: Listen to short calls on a regular basis to ensure that customers are having a good experience. Ultimately, it’s best to review a good mix of interactions including some short, some long, and some in between.

Mistake #5: Allow rage to fuel quality monitoring

In my early days of reviewing customer interactions, there were times where agents gave customers completely wrong answers or missed on key compliance requirements. My response (after calling the customer to make it right) was to pour out my wrath on the quality form, documenting everything the agent did wrong.

While critical errors need to be corrected, the process of reviewing customer interactions and coaching agents to improve is core to quality management. When done in anger it can quickly put agents on the defensive, undermining any efforts to improve performance. Sure, if agents continue to make the same errors after being coached they should be held accountable, but that’s no reason to rage monitor calls.

Recommendation: Keep your cool when reviewing customer interactions, assume positive intent, and aim to give agents complete, balanced feedback. If you have hired the right people and respect them, they will respond to coaching and work to improve their performance.

There’s no doubt about it. Reviewing customer interactions in a busy contact center can be a challenge but it’s so critical to our success. I encourage you to be intentional about where and when you monitor, aim to review a good mix of interactions to get a complete picture of agent performance and keep your cool at all times. Do those things and you will avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made.

On that note, please share some of the mistakes you’ve made when reviewing customer interactions in your contact center and what you learned in the process. Tweet us @8x8.

Jeremy Watkin


Jeremy Watkin is a Product Marketing Manager at 8x8. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk [...] Read More >

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