This article was originally published on the ICMI Blog on July 18, 2019. Click here to read the original post.
When I took a job where I would direct quality efforts for an organization almost exactly four years ago, I must confess that I knew I had a lot to learn. While I was (and am) deeply passionate about awesome customer service, the act of creating a quality form and randomly monitoring a set of customer interactions was still a necessary evil when it comes to running a contact center.
It wasn’t until my boss helped me connect quality with the customer experience that I began to find purpose and meaning in the work. It was then that I saw the critical role quality assurance plays in achieving the desired customer experience. In this article, I’ll share six things to consider when creating a quality scorecard. Hopefully, these tips will help you build your card with more intentionality and connect with deeper purpose and meaning in the process.
It’s about beginning with the end in mind
I’m going to steal this wonderful concept from Stephen Covey and apply it to quality assurance. It’s so easy when designing a quality scorecard to jump right into the weeds and begin adding everything about a customer interaction that we think our agents should be doing. Before you do so, back up just a bit and think about what really matters to the customer. What’s going to result in higher customer satisfaction? If you’ve ever completed a customer journey map, what are the critical points in the customer journey that are dependent on your contact center agents?
When you approach your quality scorecard this way, perhaps you think twice about that canned greeting that isn’t engaging the customer in the slightest. Or that nine times out of ten when you ask the customer, “Is there anything else I can help you with” they respond with, “I already told you that was all I needed.” If your quality scorecard isn’t helping you achieve higher customer satisfaction, and perhaps is instead aggravating your customers, it might be time to rethink it.
It’s about a standard of excellence
When I was first introduced to quality assurance early in my career we spent entirely too much time on elaborate points systems and making sure everything added up to 100%. Some questions might be graded on a ten-point scale where an agent could earn anything from a 1 to a 10. If we’re talking about a question to rate the quality of the information provided to a customer, what’s the difference between a 5 and an 8? Defining what each of these numbers means takes a lot of time and effort.
In recent years I’ve moved to a simple yes/no system. With yes/no we define what a yes looks like for each of our questions, and for anything that’s not a yes, it’s a no. Isn’t quality about setting a standard of excellence, defining it well, and making sure we hit that standard every time? I’m not sure a system of partial credit helps up achieve this standard.
It’s about coaching and development
This is a critical point to think about before designing your quality scorecard. If you don’t see the value in, or have the time to coach and develop your agents as part of your quality process, don’t bother creating a scorecard. It’s a waste of time. Sure, you might be able to gauge the quality of your team, but you’re never going to move the needle in meaningful ways.
After observing and scoring an interaction, it’s critical that you take the time to review that interaction with the agent. Talk about what they did well and discuss their opportunities for improvement. This might require listening to a call with them, practicing the desired behavior that meets your standard, and setting some goals with them before they return to the production floor.
While you’re at it, you might want to reconsider whether or not they need to see a quality score or if the presence of a score might be a crutch, when what they really need is feedback about their performance. Here’s an article worth reading on this topic.
It’s about meaningful connection
If you’ve made it this far and you still plan on proceeding with a quality scorecard, the next three points address what I’ve found to be the three essential ingredients to any customer interaction. You might break some of these behaviors out a bit but if you do these three things well, you’ll succeed more times than not.
The first is connecting meaningfully with customers and here as some of the key aspects to making those connections:
- Greeting them with a friendly, welcoming tone of voice.
- Listening intently to their issue and repeating back what they said in a way that lets them know you were listening.
- Responding to their tone appropriately. This means being positive when they’re positive and empathizing when they’re upset. This shows genuine interest in their issue.
- Demonstrating a clear willingness to help them and taking ownership of the situation — not relinquishing that ownership until their issue is resolved.
The look and feel of this could vary a bit based on your brand, product, and the sorts of customers you’re supporting, but where these behaviors exist, you’re likely making meaningful connections with customers.
It’s about getting it right the first time
The next critical ingredient in a customer interaction, and one could argue the most important to the success of the interaction, is giving the customer correct information. Think about it, if we give a customer wrong answers or incomplete answers, they’re either going to have to contact us again, or they’re going to become upset and never contact us again. Either way, the interaction has been a complete waste of both time and money.
Also, in the spirit of getting it right the first time, this is where the communication of the message comes in. When discussing quality assurance, the quality of writing and speaking often comes up. While misspellings, poorly written sentences, and such can certainly make the company we’re representing look unprofessional, I’m most concerned about where it completely detracts from or alters the message we’re trying to communicate. Again, poor communication could render the whole interaction pointless.
It’s about upholding the immense trust our customers have placed in us
The final ingredient in customer interactions, and certainly the most costly if missed, is the importance of gaining and keeping the customer’s trust. I’m talking about the security and compliance stuff and this varies widely by industry. Perhaps you’re working in financial services and agents are required to verify three pieces of information before discussing an account with a customer. Or perhaps you’re placing outbound calls and need to inform a customer that the call is being recorded.
While this might seem like a hassle and make us unpopular with some customers, we know all too well the dangers of fraud and the severe penalties for failing to comply with some of these policies and procedures. And at the end of the day, we also must remember that for so many customers, we’re supporting their livelihood. They’ve placed an immense amount of trust in our company and we mustn’t let them down.
Realizing this might date me a bit, there’s a scene at the end of the movie City Slickers where Mitch (played by Billy Crystal) has figured out what his “one thing” issue and decides not to quit on his job, family, and life. He instead vows to do it better. Before you consider scrapping your quality assurance program, I invite you to consider these six things and hopefully approach it with a bit more intentionality. At the end of the day, you may find that your quality assurance efforts become less of a necessary evil and more of a means for achieving a better customer experience.
On that note, let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.