Remember traveling? I went to Greece with a friend. We saw a lot of different places on that trip, from the Parthenon in Athens to the cave houses in Santorini, wineries, museums, and of course beautiful beaches and places to eat.

Much like the way there was so much to see on that trip, there is a lot I’d like to share about developing a quality program. So, this will be a two-part post. Think of this as seeing multiple ports of call on a trip!

In this post, I’ll define quality management and outline the setting up of a program. In the next blog post, I’ll walk through the ‘who’s and how’s’ of a program.

Now, much like the beaches in Greece - let's dive in.

To start us from the same place, I’ll first define quality management. Contact center quality management is the continuous process of evaluating agent behaviors and coaching them to achieve desired outcomes consistently. In many contact centers, it has evolved to evaluating various competencies such as compliance, process, and even brand and empathy as the employee interacts with a customer.

What is the goal?

I defined quality management as a continuous process; however, often the process itself isn’t continuously evaluated. The status quo for many contact centers is to do quality management “the way we’ve always done it.” I encourage you, however, to step back and think about why you do what you do; does it still work? Make a list of what you want to evaluate, measure, and why.

Here are some ideas:

  • We want our customers to be satisfied.
  • We want customer issues to be resolved on the first interaction with support.
  • We want agents to be knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful.
  • We want to capitalize on more cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
  • We want to retain more customers.

The good news is that quality management can absolutely help drive all of these outcomes. Keep these goals in mind as you move through the next steps.

Track the right metrics

I’ve seen contact centers that have amazing scorecards. They gather metrics and data from all kinds of data. Data means nothing if nothing is done with it.

Go back to your list above, and now make a sub-list of measurable ways to achieve those goals. For example, “we want customers to be satisfied.” How would you measure that? The agent might simply ask the customer at the end of the call, or there may be moments during the call that are opportunities to be clear about what the customer should expect from the interaction or help with their question.

In the next step, we will discuss how to build a quality form because those questions will be the components that help you to measure what matters. If there are other metrics, such as surveys or audits that can be correlated, then you’ll be able to make your quality process even more holistic and achieve greater insights into the metrics you use.

The metrics you choose need to be coached or trained; if they’re not done to standard, then what will be the process to enable employee success? Metrics are meant to give focus to coaching and training efforts. Trend the metrics and ensure that you aren’t just measuring, but that you are actually managing and changing behaviors to achieve the goals you set out to achieve.

Build and define a form

A quality form is your tool for evaluating customer interactions. These forms can range from a few items to a few dozen. But remember that the longer the form, the longer it takes to complete an evaluation — and time isn’t typically a luxury for contact centers.

As you build your form, make a list of the agent behaviors essential to achieving the goals listed above. I tend to group them into three subheadings.

  • Communication Skills - conveying the message effectively
  • Job Knowledge - conveying an accurate message
  • Security - keeping the customer and the company safe

Once the form is established, create a definitions guide documenting the entire quality process from start to finish. Agents should be able to read it and understand what’s expected of them, and leaders should be able to use it as a reference when evaluating customer interactions.

Establish the number of interactions to evaluate

The number of interactions to evaluate in a given time period will vary by industry, personal preference, channel, and the amount of time required and available. As you come up with this number, think about the roles and who in your centers should also review and hear samples. For example, trainers, marketing, and IT. This is a great opportunity to make the whole company better.

For supervisors and team leads, I typically see teams evaluate somewhere in the realm of six to ten interactions per month or two to three per week, ensuring that agents receive constant feedback about their performance.