As The Most Interesting Contact Center Manager in the World once said, “I don’t always monitor the quality of our customer interactions, but when I do, I prefer to use a Quality Management (QM) Definitions Guide.”

OK, I’m not sure any manager has ever said those words, but I am willing to bet that more than one contact center leader has joined a customer service team and not known where or how to get started with quality management. This is where a QM definitions guide is an invaluable resource for any contact center. In this post, I will talk about what a QM definition guide is, why it is important, what should be included, who needs access and how to keep it up to date.

What is a Quality Management Definitions Guide?

A QM definitions guide is a living, breathing document that outlines and defines, in reasonable detail, the complete contact center quality process.

Why is this important?

As you begin putting this guide together, think about every aspect of your quality process that you would want someone to know in order to monitor a customer interaction. Perhaps you are a part of a small team and are the only person monitoring quality. Like many jobs, this guide ensures that someone else can step into your role if and when you advance to your next position. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are part of a large group of people monitoring quality, this guide makes it easier to add new members to the team, ensuring that everyone is working off the same playbook.

What should be included?

As you think about your process, here is an outline of what to include to help you start your QM definitions guide:

  • Overview of the process - Why is the quality management process important to the success of the team? How does it align with the customer service philosophy and key organizational goals? This is a great place to reinforce your customer service vision and philosophy.
  • Coaching and delivery to agents - Talk about the coaching and delivery process and philosophy. For example, I encourage quality teams to coach agents in person whenever possible and within 24 hours so the interaction is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
  • Frequency and type of monitoring - How many quality monitors per channel does the team complete on a daily/weekly/monthly basis per agent? How many do you complete for brand new hires? Do you always listen to recorded calls or do supervisors sometimes sit side by side with agents? Share links to any reports, documents or trackers in use to track agent progress.
  • Scoring philosophy and system - Whether you reveal the score to the agent or track one at all, or use a yes/no system, or a numerical scale, there will be many differences of opinion as people come and go from the quality team. Be sure to outline why you have selected this model and clearly define how agents can earn each rating. For example, if using yes/no, talk about what behaviors earn a yes versus no.
  • How to find the right customer interactions to score - Be specific as to the types of customer interactions the team should be scoring. This might include things like listening to calls of varying lengths or, if you have Speech Analytics, looking for calls with certain speech patterns or keywords and phrases, or for calls where required dialog is NOT included. Another consideration is to ensure that for cases that span multiple support channels, the entire conversation is reviewed.
  • Using the Quality Management tool - While some contact centers use a robust Quality Management tool many still use some combination of forms and spreadsheets. Either way, give reviewers instructions and links to help them access and use the system.
  • Overview of the quality form(s) - Include the latest version of your quality form. I prefer to keep this to a 1-page matrix view of the quality form that can be easily referenced. If you still need to create a quality form, check out our tips for building a quality form to get started.
  • Detailed breakdown of the quality form(s) - Even in a contact center environment that handles multiple channels, I aim, wherever possible, to have a single quality form and then use this section to go into greater detail about how each question on the form applies to each support channel. For example, communication skills apply to all support channels but have some significant differences in a phone conversation versus text-based conversation.
  • Calibration process - This is a process where everyone on the team monitoring quality practices scoring the same set of interactions and then meets together to discuss their differences in scoring. The goal is for the team to be aligned in their scoring so agents are trained to deliver a consistent customer support experience. This becomes all the more important as your operation scales, spans multiple sites, and works with outsourcers.
  • Key quality metrics - Outline the metrics that are most important to the quality process and where these can be found. In many contact centers, these metrics include:
    • Total customer interaction reviews required
    • Total customer interaction reviews completed
    • Average quality score
    • Percentage of the team meeting or exceeding the goal
    • Results of calibration sessions
    • Percentage of quality monitors delivered to agents (should always be 100%)
    • Customer metrics like Customer Satisfaction, Net Promoter Score, and Customer Effort Score
    • A breakdown of key areas of opportunity for the team and individuals
    • The success rate for key security and compliance items like authentication, PCI, HIPAA, call recording notification laws, and more

Who needs access?

There are a variety of stakeholders who have an interest in your quality program. Their levels of interest will vary depending on their role. But let’s talk about who needs access and why.

  • Frontline Agents - The people serving customers and being evaluated on the quality of the service they provide should understand what’s expected of them. They want to know what they can do to be successful in their role.
  • Supervisors and Leads - Anyone who monitors quality will use this guide as their bible for everything they need to know about the process. This will also be a valuable resource as you promote people into these roles.
  • Trainers - The new hire training classroom is a fantastic time to introduce agents to the quality process. Helping new hires understand what’s expected of them right when they hit the contact center production floor can only increase their chances of success.
  • Managers and Directors - These are often the people setting the tone and casting the vision for the contact center. They are the people signing off on the quality form and process. While they might not regularly monitor quality, this document allows them to periodically join calibration sessions and check in on the process.
  • Customer Experience and Marketing Leaders - For those who want to take quality to the next level, take the time to align with key customer experience objectives and work with the marketing team to ensure that customer service agents use a voice and style consistent with the brand.

How to keep it up to date?

I’m sure we can all point to folders and folders of documents that have been created with good intentions but have grown stale over time. This guide must not become one of those documents. Your QM definitions guide should be a living, breathing document.

There are a few easy ways to keep this document fresh. First of all, as the team calibrates, use it as a reference. It is common for uncertainty and ambiguity to arise during the discussions and this is a good indicator that something needs to be clarified in the document. Second, empower the folks regularly monitoring quality to submit questions and feedback for continuous improvement. They know the process inside and out and can work to keep it up to date. Finally, when changes are proposed and made to the quality form, use this document as the area for collaborating on those changes.

Having a current QM definitions guide is a best practice for ensuring that everyone in the contact center is aligned in consistently delivering the expected level of service. This applies to both the agents providing the support themselves and the leaders supporting and monitoring the agents providing the support,

My hope is that this is a solid template to help you get started, but if you have any questions as you create your own QM definitions guide, feel free to reach out to us at any time.