Quality Assurance Optimization Requires Transformation

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Quality Assurance Optimization Requires Transformation

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CTA-quality-assurance-charts-graphics-button300x170Every company has a department, or several, that perform internal checks to ensure that the quality of the product, service, process, and technology meets or exceeds company-defined standards. Most people refer to these departments as Quality Assurance or QA. Contact centers have been a fertile hotbed for Quality activities for decades! But, have you ever feared that your contact center is merely assuring that you are achieving the common practice due to your quality assurance program? The unintentional industry standard is actually a huge gap between company and customer perceptions when it comes to quality. What contact centers deem to be high quality is misaligned with the customers’ perception. Study after study has reported this to be fact. If your Quality department’s objective is to generate a great customer experience when measuring quality, it must be separating the customer’s evaluation of quality from the company’s evaluation of quality? Quality assurance optimization requires that insights be captured from the correct source.

Quality Assurance Optimization Means Innovating

For the past few decades the main component of Quality Assurance in contact centers has primarily consisted of internally quality monitoring (iQM) calls for grading and coaching (we hope) purposes. Internal Quality Monitoring (iQM) is listening to calls and grading agents based on a standard set of criteria with monitoring forms. If the agent scored high on the call, high quality customer service was (perceived by the company to have been) delivered; if not, the agent was coached (we hope) on how to improve their performance going forward. But factually, how did the customer evaluate the quality about that high scoring call? (Review: Internal Quality Monitoring is Unable to Answer the Quality Question) Were their expectations met? Was the relationship strengthened? Would they agree that they received high quality customer service as well? Or would their evaluation be different? Of course it’s different! Remember…study after study has proven this gap to be fact. Quality assurance optimization would exist when the gap in evaluations is more understood and more actionable.

customers-grade-the-callsIn today’s highly competitive marketplace, companies must innovate and cannot afford to follow the common practice with their contact center Quality Assurance programs.  And despite what all of those marketing blasts from software vendors and their paid-to-promote industry analysts say, you don’t need the latest and greatest groundbreaking technological advancement to close this quality gap and capture benefits from quality assurance optimization. To deliver a great customer experience in your contact center and to stand out from the pack you must stop following the pack and innovate beyond the pack.

We have all read the studies that have shown customers will pay more for a product in order to get good customer service (and low customer effort). Senior-level leaders have read them too, so now they want to stop the erosion of their profit margins by focusing on improving the customer experience. So this is your impetus for ending the habit of following the pack. You must deliver – and prove – a better customer experience. Quality assurance optimization can be your accelerant or your barrier to do so. You choose.  The votes are in: superior customer service is the competitive differentiator.

Are you sick of hearing about Zappos, Nordstrom’s, Ritz Carlton, and Wegman’s customer experience prowess, thinking that it can never be you? Well, it will be you when you stop being a contact center Quality Assurance conformist.

Sure, it takes effort to change your behavior, but it’s worth it. When you undertake the Quality Assurance transformation process you will begin to implement leading activities instead of common activities. Do away with the common. You will experience what it really means to work smarter, not harder. It’s like Tony Robbins said, ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten’. In order to deliver exceptional customer experience in the contact center industry, you must change the way you (we) do things.

The first step of the transformation is to change the perspective of your Quality Assurance program. Instead of approaching everything from the company perspective, transform to separating the customer’s evaluation of service from your evaluation of service. By shifting your mindset, you can identify why some of the gaps exist, and how to eliminate them. For example, going from a transactional (company-centric) to an experiential (customer-centric) mindset enables you to view relationships better from the customers’ perspective; providing insight into the customer experience.

Quality assurance optimization with quality transformation

The traditional (company-centric) approach to contact center quality assurance delivers outcomes associated with the left side of the Transformation chart. You can easily check your customer-centric strength by judging if you are getting more right column or left column outcomes. Are you seeing more left column or right column outcomes? What if you stopped the behaviors that focuses on handle time (company-centric) and implemented behaviors that instead drive ‘handle it’ outcomes? Meaning that the Quality Assurance and coaching (we hope) support resolving the customer’s issue or answering their questions instead of rapidly moving on to the next interaction. Sure, some calls will run longer than average, but it’s cheaper in the long run to resolve issues than it is to have to service that same customer multiple times when they continue to call back because they were rushed off the phone. Oh, and they will be happier too.

In a customer-centric environment, Quality Assurance has been transformed and expanded beyond iQM to include the customer’s grading of the service experience. Instead of iQM, this is eQM, or external quality monitoring. Do not make the assumption that eQM is simply conducting surveys or is a voice of the customer program. True, eQM is targeted to yield results that you can leverage to take action at the company, contact center, and agent level. But more, it is adopting the customer evaluation mindset instead of the customer feedback mindset. Effective eQM will empower you to drive NPS, cSAT, and Customer Effort. Anything less leaves you right where you are currently; experiencing left column outcomes (review chart) while wishing desperately for right column outcomes.

The contact center quality transformation chart represents a new (customer-centric) strategy for contact center Quality Assurance. It is a reminder (tool) for organizations that are leading in customer experience and benefiting from quality assurance optimization, but also represents a choice made by the most successful leaders in contact centers today. So, who do you want to follow – the leaders or the pack? You choose.

The contact center quality transformation chart is part of the Impact Quality Assurance (iQA) methodology.  More details on iQA can be found here…

About Vicki Nihart

Six Sigma certified and more than 15 years experience in contact center operations. Vicki leverages contact center operations subject matter expertise and deep analytic capabilities to support clients and build relationships. Analyzing and interpreting data is a passion she converts into purpose.

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By | 2016-12-05T15:14:44+00:00 December 9th, 2013|Customer Experience, Quality Monitoring|1 Comment
  • Dan Enthoven

    “it’s cheaper in the long run to resolve issues than it is to have to service that same customer multiple times”

    You have to look at the long run when it comes to quality customer service. Short-cuts know will almost always bite you in the end and then you’re at negative square one. AHT means nothing if customers don’t hang up satisfied.