Call Calibration for Consistent Scoring and Coaching

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This is the third post in a series on iden­ti­fy­ing per­for­mance gaps in call cen­ter agents. The first post focused on how to cre­ate a bullet-proof mon­i­tor­ing form, the sec­ond on how to develop a com­pan­ion Call Qual­ity Guide. Once these two tools are cre­ated and tested, ongo­ing call cal­i­bra­tion will be the key to your success.

In a call cal­i­bra­tion ses­sion, par­tic­i­pants lis­ten to calls—either before or dur­ing the cal­i­bra­tion session—and score them accord­ing to the Mon­i­tor­ing Form and Call Qual­ity Guide. Scores are shared and any dis­crep­an­cies are rec­on­ciled, either by refin­ing the forms if they’re newly cre­ated, or pro­vid­ing addi­tional train­ing for par­tic­i­pants. The goal of call cal­i­bra­tion is to assure that those respon­si­ble for scor­ing calls do so in a con­sis­tent manner.

If you’ve recently cre­ated or changed your Mon­i­tor­ing Form and Call Qual­ity Guide, hold­ing a cal­i­bra­tion ses­sion will help you fine-tune the forms.

If every­one doesn’t agree that a Stan­dard has been met, per­haps the Stan­dard doesn’t have a yes/no answer and either may not be a Stan­dard, or it needs fur­ther def­i­n­i­tion. If not every­one scores an Objec­tive the same way, ask­ing why will help you be more spe­cific in how you state the behav­iors that com­prise each score. If your team doesn’t score calls the same way imme­di­ately, don’t despair! It often takes sev­eral hour-long ses­sions before every­one will begin to score a call in a uni­form way.

Once your forms are fine-tuned and those lis­ten­ing to calls are scor­ing them the same, ongo­ing cal­i­bra­tion ses­sions are cru­cial to hold—every week is not too fre­quent. Ongo­ing cal­i­bra­tion ses­sions pro­vide the fol­low­ing benefits:

  • They assure that every­one who mon­i­tors and scores calls has a thor­ough under­stand­ing of the per­for­mance stan­dards and objections
  • Super­vi­sors and QA mon­i­tors apply stan­dards of eval­u­a­tion uniformly
  • Behav­ior is mea­sured consistently—no mat­ter which call is mon­i­tored or which per­son scores the call
  • Agent sat­is­fac­tion is improved as they get con­sis­tent feed­back no mat­ter which super­vi­sor or QA mon­i­tor pro­vides it.
  • Because everyone—agents and lead­ers alike—know what is expected, coach­ing can focus on rec­og­niz­ing good per­for­mance and iden­ti­fy­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for improvement.

How to Con­duct a Call Cal­i­bra­tion Session

Fol­low­ing are some best prac­tices for hold­ing call cal­i­bra­tion sessions:

  • Sched­ule an hour for each session.
  • Select calls that are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the major­ity of the calls you receive, or calls to illus­trate a par­tic­u­lar issue. For some cal­i­bra­tion ses­sions, lis­ten to calls at random.
  • Deter­mine an accept­able vari­ance in scor­ing. If you’re scor­ing newly cre­ated forms, if you’re scor­ing with newly hired super­vi­sors or QAs, or if you’ve recently changed your forms, you can accept a wider variance—perhaps 10 points. Once you’ve held a few cal­i­bra­tion ses­sions and fine-tuned under­stand­ing, 5 points might be the accept­able range. Don’t expect to achieve per­fect cal­i­bra­tion imme­di­ately! It may take sev­eral ses­sions before you’ll achieve a small vari­ance. Focus first on cal­i­brat­ing Stan­dards, as those are the behav­iors most crit­i­cal for job success.
  • If calls are recorded, send them to the peo­ple attend­ing the ses­sion, ask them to score them inde­pen­dently before com­ing to the cal­i­bra­tion ses­sion, and record their scores, either in call mon­i­tor­ing soft­ware or by send­ing their mon­i­tor­ing form to you. This will allow you to see which par­tic­i­pants may need indi­vid­ual help.
  • Review the Call Qual­ity Guide at the begin­ning of each ses­sion to be sure that every­one under­stands what makes up a suc­cess­ful call.
  • If you sent recorded calls, post scores flip-chart or white board so that you can see the vari­ance. If you didn’t send recorded calls, play the selected calls (or lis­ten to live calls) and ask par­tic­i­pants to score them one at a time. Dis­cuss after each call.
  • Ask one per­son to sum­ma­rize the call.
  • Review each Stan­dard and ask par­tic­i­pants whether the Stan­dard was met, or not met. Dis­cuss until each mem­ber under­stands why the Stan­dard was met, or not met.
  • Review each Objec­tive and dis­cuss the scor­ing vari­ances and ask par­tic­i­pants to explain why scored as they did.
  • Do the same with the next call until you’re close to the end of the hour.
  • At the end of the ses­sion, sum­ma­rize lessons learned.
  • Cre­ate notes from the ses­sion and dis­trib­ute to par­tic­i­pants for future reference.

Expect a lively dis­cus­sion dur­ing your cal­i­bra­tion ses­sions. Be sure to cre­ate a non-confrontational envi­ron­ment where every­one feels safe shar­ing his or her opin­ion. The goal of the ses­sion is not to prove who’s right or wrong, but instead, to be sure every­one under­stands the cri­te­ria for eval­u­at­ing whether there are gaps in employee per­for­mance so that good per­for­mance can be praised, and per­for­mance gaps can be addressed.

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