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Quality Management

Practical information about call center recording software, call monitoring and quality assurance for contact centers

Call Scoring Hints, Tips & Best Practices

What is call scoring? Isn’t it enough to record calls and review them with the agent?

Recording calls is important, but it’s only the first step. Additional benefits can be derived from efforts to analyze recorded calls for information that can benefit customers, agents and company sales and marketing plans.

Call scoring provides a systematic means to conduct these reviews. Scoring furnishes a means to identify the weakest areas of agent performance and, combined with a review of call recordings, paints a more precise picture of where agents need to improve, and the steps necessary to get there.

The following blogs and articles offer more information on call scoring. Still have questions? Search for answers here. Or, contact us for more information on Monet solutions that maximize the impact of call scoring.

Content or Emotion: How Do you Route Calls?

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Routing calls to the agent best suited to handling them is a proven strategy for boosting service levels and customer satisfaction. But how do you determine which agent is the right one? 

Most contact centers employ a content-based approach. If a caller has a highly technical question, there should be an agent with the product insight necessary to understand the problem. If a customer wants more information about a seasonal promotion, agents trained on the details would be the appropriate recipients of these queries. 

However, emotion can be an equally pivotal consideration when routing agent calls. Customers who want to conduct their business as quickly as possible without a lot of chit-chat will be happier with an agent who moves the call along more efficiently. Senior citizens, who remember a less-hurried time and may enjoy some pleasant conversation during their calls, will prefer an agent with a more genial personality. 

Behavioral analytics studies suggest that emotions might be a more important factor than content in call routing. Given that most calls will consist of basic questions and transactions, pairing a customer with a like-minded agent is a strategy that may deliver better results. 

To do this, of course, it would help if a call center had speech analytics and other related tools available to quickly identify they type of a caller by their reactions or emotions. It would also need to know which agents are more naturally empathetic to problems, which are able to maintain a calm demeanor when confronted with anger, and which have the patience to deal with customers that do not express themselves in a concise manner. 



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Fine-Tuning Your Quality Assurance Program

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Quality Assurance (QA) provides the bridge between call monitoring and quality monitoring. It introduces a critical grading component into the call monitoring process, so captured calls can be measured against call center guidelines and procedures. Indeed, the process of quality monitoring begins with the creation of a quality assurance scorecard used to measure agent demeanor and performance as related to KPIs. 

It’s an easy term to define, but a more difficult one to put into practice. Unfortunately, too many contact centers view quality assurance like it was one of those rotisserie ovens that used to be advertised on late-night informercials, where the pitchman says all you have to do is “set it, and forget it.” 

That won’t work here – QA is a program that requires frequent monitoring and adjustment. It’s also a company-wide process where agents, coaches, customer input and technology must be coordinated to achieve optimal results. 

If your contact center is not getting the most from its Quality Assurance efforts, here are some fine-tuning tips that may help identify and resolve any issues. 

The Role of Agents

If your agents have not bought into the goals of the QA program, its chance of success has already been compromised. It is vital for managers to create the perception that QA is a program that requires their participation, and not a program created just to catch them making mistakes. This is often a problem with new agents, or when QA evaluation is first considered.

The more managers can solicit agent input, the more they will feel like part of a process, rather than being singled out as the cause of service issues. Toward that end, keep the lines of communication open on the call selection process, and ask for agents’ help in writing the best questions to rate each call. It’s also helpful to encourage self-evaluation of each agent’s recorded calls. 

Another approach that works, especially with millennials, is to present aspects of the QA program as a game or company-wide contest. Offer prizes to agents for flagging their best calls, worst calls, funniest calls, and most unusual customer engagements. Not only will this make agents more attentive to QA during their shifts, it often collects the calls that will be most helpful in training current and future agents. 

One more tip – give agents the opportunity to view QA from the reviewer’s perspective. For agents accustomed to the receiving end of QA evaluation, this provides a chance to review the performances of their peers, and perhaps learn something in the process. Those that are most perceptive should be considered candidates for your permanent QA team. 

The Role of Customers

Customers provide the raw data used in Quality Assurance measurement. It’s essential to know what they’re telling you, in some cases what they are not telling you, and to make sure that customer survey scores are correlated with QA scores. If they are not, it’s possible you are not measuring what is most important to your customers.

When you are setting up your call selection criteria and creating QA forms, focus on the most significant type of customer feedback for this exercise, which is the content of their conversation with agents. The contact center can do little about other types of customer complaints (such as faulty products or confusing advertising) outside of noting patterns and passing that data on to other departments. For quality assurance purposes, only the conversation between the agent and the customer should be analyzed. 

The Role of Coaching 

Many contact centers schedule one coaching session per agent per month – then fall behind and wind up rushing through the last few on the 30th and 31st. Set up a reasonable schedule of weekly sessions that covers the full agent roster, and provides consistent feedback. This also makes it easier for proper advance planning prior to each session, which should include granting agents advance access to their QA evaluation and recorded calls. That gives them time to review the data and provide feedback, which results in a more productive session.

Some other helpful coaching tips:

Follow-up with under-performing agents to confirm that recommendations from the last evaluation is being implemented

Recruit consistently high-scoring agents to conduct peer-to-peer coaching 

Provide regular “job well done” feedback between evaluations to celebrate successful calls that stand out

Finally, and this should be obvious, coach agents that really need the coaching more frequently than those who deliver consistently. 

The Tools of the Trade – and How to Use Them

Start with the QA form: confirm that the qualities that constitute a successful call are clear and well defined. Provide definitions and examples so there is no uncertainty.  Make sure each part of the form is linked to a specific business goal or objective. Also keep in mind that there is something to be said for brevity – a form with 50 questions is not using anyone’s time efficiently. Like the express lane at the supermarket, keep it to 15 items or less. 

Evaluating a random selection of calls will deliver valuable results, but the more you can target specific types of calls for review (by tagging them), the more insight you will gain into how these calls are being handled. 

From a technology standpoint, analytics can increase the effectiveness of any Quality Assurance program. Speech analytics and desktop analytics can reveal problems that may otherwise go unnoticed, identify trends, and uncover solutions to better serve high value customers and high value accounts. 

Should every call be monitored with speech analytics? Why not? As long as every call consists of the same components – greeting, closing, information verification, upsell opportunity, etc., it provides a way to analyze customer responses for a variety of factors, and further analyze agent performance on product knowledge, empathy and adherence to script. 

Conclusion

For call centers, a Workforce Optimization solution that incorporates Quality Assurance, speech analytics and desktop analytics can play a significant role in boosting customer satisfaction and productivity, while reducing costs. But as the old song says, it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it. Make sure your QA program and its personnel are striving toward the same goals. 



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You Record Calls, but Do You also Score them?

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Recording calls is important, but it’s only the first step. Additional benefits from this technology can be derived from the efforts made to review and analyze recorded calls for information that can benefit customers, agents and company sales and marketing plans. 

Call scoring provides a systematic means to conduct these reviews, so they can be optimally used to improve quality management, agent performance and training.  

Scoring furnishes a means to identify the weakest areas of agent performance and, combined with a review of call recordings, paints a more precise picture of where agents need to improve, and the steps necessary to get there. 

The first step is to determine what elements are important in each customer engagement, and how each effort should be scored against these pre-determined criteria.

Most scorecard elements are fairly standard, and are derived from dividing a call into segments. Many contact centers use a basic open-middle-close format (how is the customer greeted, how is the problem or question resolved, how does the call end). Of course, most of the action takes place in the middle segment, so additional scrutiny here may be helpful – was the agent able to answer all questions? Was the agent friendly when the caller was hostile? Were any upsell opportunities missed? 

Calls can be scored on a 1-10 scale, or with the type of A-F letter grades we used to receive in school. Once grading is complete, the results can be shared with each agent, and additional training scheduled if needed. 

Of course, it is also beneficial to have a unified call recording/call scoring WFO solution that will automate the review and evaluation process. That means faster results, more accurate results in the form of reports and statistics, and a reliable blueprint for necessary revisions and updates based on the data provided. 


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Exploring Trends in Quality Assurance and Quality Monitoring

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Recently, we’ve been speaking to some contact center managers about what is happening in their centers. This feedback is important to us as we develop new products and services, and upgrade our existing solutions. 

Quality Monitoring (QM) and Quality Assurance (QA) are two of the challenges that clients have mentioned most frequently. We have covered these topics in several previous blogs and articles, as well as the white paper Seven Strategies for Effective Quality Assurance.  

“Yes, this is helpful,” they responded. “But is anything new going on in this field?” Are there any new ideas or trends that are working that we could try?”

The answer is yes – and no. Here we will cover some of the most recent developments in the quality monitoring and quality assurance field; however, these should not be implemented in a way that replaces the proven tools and techniques that have worked for more than a decade. The best solution would be to incorporate the new methods as an enhancement to your current strategy – assuming it is based on solid ideas and principles. More...


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Is Call Quality Scoring on your Holiday Wish List?

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Do you have call recording in place at your contact center? Great. You’ve already discovered the multitude of benefits it provides so there’s no need to list them here again.

But does your call recording solution also support integrated call scoring? If not, the call center has not been reaping all of the dividends of this important technology, including those that encompass quality management, agent performance and training. 

Call scoring requires a cooperative effort among managers, agents and even customers (through feedback and survey results) to determine what elements are important in each customer engagement, and how each effort should be scored.

Once you have chosen the standards that work best for your call center, a unified call recording/call scoring Workforce Optimization solution will automate the review and evaluation process. That means faster results, more accurate results in the form of reports and statistics, and a reliable blueprint for necessary revisions and updates based on the data provided.

Call Scoring and Training
Call scoring provides a means to turbo-charge your training efforts that already incorporate recorded calls. Scoring furnishes a means to identify the weakest areas of agent performance, and combined with a review of call recordings paints a more precise picture of where agents need to improve, and the steps necessary to get there.

Please get our whitepaper about quality management to learn more about call scoring and to improve performance almost immediately.



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Call Center Training Tip: Self-evaluation of Call Quality

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Agents should learn the general practice of proper customer interaction, and the specific approaches and preferences of their call center, through training and coaching sessions. However, recorded calls allow agents to also review their own performances, and learn from their mistakes without the involvement of a manager.

One might think that self-evaluation could take place without recorded calls – after all, the agent was certainly present for each of these engagements and knows how he or she handled specific questions and occasionally difficult customers. But usually the agent is so engaged in the conversation that certain behavior can go unnoticed.

Let’s say an agent encountered a customer who asked more than the typical number of questions about a basic transaction. Following the call, that agent might be certain he answered every question and thus fulfilled his obligation. By reviewing the call recording, that agent might detect exasperation or impatience in his voice that may have been communicated to the customer. 

There may even be lessons that can be learned from call recordings where everything went well. Perhaps the agent will identify an area where a question could have been answered more quickly, or an opportunity for an upsell was missed.

Such self-evaluation should be encouraged, as it not only allows every agent to improve without supervision, it frees up managers to address other issues.

The best agents will realize where they need help and make corrections before being informed to do so by their employers. For more tips on this, please also check out our call quality management whitepaper.



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Angry Calls vs. Abusive Calls

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Is it ever acceptable to hang up on a customer call? Believe it or not, the answer is yes. While the first goal of a call center agent is to respond courteously to all customer questions and complaints, there will be instances where there is simply no possibility of a successful resolution.

The challenge is separating angry calls, which may be turned around by a sympathetic agent, from abusive calls, in which an agent may have no choice but to terminate the conversation.

Angry Calls

Most angry calls are the result of a previous product or service experience that went awry. The caller is angry with the company and is ready to vent that anger on the first company representative they reach – the call center agent. There should be best practices in place at the call center for dealing with such situations, which typically include a clear and direct apology for the customer’s inconvenience, and a steady, calm delivery that may diffuse the raised emotions on the other side of the call. If the agent can offer fair compensation, most angry callers will be satisfied.

Abusive Calls

The main dividing line between anger and abuse is the nature of the verbal attack. An abusive caller will personally attack the agent, through derogatory comments and profanity. The challenge for the agent is to remain calm and try to reduce the caller’s hostility level. A reminder that the call is being recorded may change their attitude, but if it doesn’t it should be permissible for the agent to tell the abusive caller that their call will be terminated if he or she does not calm down. The agent should then inform that manager of what has happened.

Analyzing Negative Encounters with Call Recording

Recorded examples of angry and abusive calls can be valuable tools in training. Coach agents on the difference between the two, and review how the agents on those calls handled the situation. Exposure to “the dark side” of the call center agent job can only help agents with they are faced with similar situations.



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What is Call Quality Scoring and Evaluation?

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All call centers should be rating agent performance. But for companies with more than one call center, or companies that experience management turnover, there may be a question of whether evaluation standards remain consistent from center to center, or manager to manager.

Call scoring is a way to measure agent performance against a uniform standard. Used correctly it should eliminate any personal biases from call evaluation and improve quality management.

The call scoring process should begin with defining the criteria that denotes a successful customer service engagement. This is a process that can involve managers, agents and even customers (through responses to surveys and other feedback channels). Call recording software will also play a key role. Reviewing recorded transactions, and discussing them with those involved in the call scoring process, will make it much easier to set goals, and assign scores based on different aspects of the call (greeting, adherence to script, conflict resolution etc.).

Chances are there won’t be consensus on many points right away. Encourage discussion and ask participants to explain the scores they have given. But once standards for call scoring have been set, keep them consistent for all future evaluations.

Compliance to call scoring evaluation should be enforced through regular contact and assessment with agents, making sure they are aware of the desired standard.

Call Recording and Quality Management Software for Call Scoring
Choose a call recording system with a built-in quality assurance tool for call scoring. All of the required functions can be automated into a single integrated solution. Functionality should include the creation of evaluation forms with configurable sections, the ability to share forms among agents and management, the assigning of calls to be assessed and the ability to generate reports based on call evaluations and statistics. For more information, please also download our whitepaper about call recording and quality assurance that provides an overview and discusses the need for an integrated solution.



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What is Call Quality Scoring and Evaluation?

Posted: by:

All call centers should be rating agent performance. But for companies with more than one call center, or companies that experience management turnover, there may be a question of whether evaluation standards remain consistent from center to center, or manager to manager.

Call scoring is a way to measure agent performance against a uniform standard. Used correctly it should eliminate any personal biases from call evaluation and improve quality management.

The call scoring process should begin with defining the criteria that denotes a successful customer service engagement. This is a process that can involve managers, agents and even customers (through responses to surveys and other feedback channels). Call recording software will also play a key role. Reviewing recorded transactions, and discussing them with those involved in the call scoring process, will make it much easier to set goals, and assign scores based on different aspects of the call (greeting, adherence to script, conflict resolution etc.).

Chances are there won’t be consensus on many points right away. Encourage discussion and ask participants to explain the scores they have given. But once standards for call scoring have been set, keep them consistent for all future evaluations.

Compliance to call scoring evaluation should be enforced through regular contact and assessment with agents, making sure they are aware of the desired standard.

Call Recording and Quality Management Software for Call Scoring
Choose a call recording system with a built-in quality assurance tool for call scoring. All of the required functions can be automated into a single integrated solution. Functionality should include the creation of evaluation forms with configurable sections, the ability to share forms among agents and management, the assigning of calls to be assessed and the ability to generate reports based on call evaluations and statistics. For more information, please also download our whitepaper about call recording and quality assurance that provides an overview and discusses the need for an integrated solution.



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