Tips for creating a customer-centric quality management program.
When implemented well, a Quality Management program has the potential to revolutionize both the agent and the customer experience. The sad reality is that most QM programs do more harm than good. According to the “Best Practices in Quality Monitoring and Coaching” whitepaper by Dr. Jon Anton and Anita Rockwell agents expressed these feelings in regards to a poorly implemented QM process:
- I am being policed
- I feel like “big brother” is watching me
- They are only trying to catch me doing something wrong
It’s no wonder the turnover rate in service centers is so high if this is the typical environment. Alternatively, when QM programs were implemented well agents experienced the following:
- I respect my coach and appreciate it when she shows me examples of ways to do things better
- I look forward to my weekly coaching sessions because it shows that my supervisor really cares about my success
- I enjoy monitoring my own calls; it is amazing to see what I can improve
How much better is that!? Clearly, not all Quality Management programs are created equal. Avoiding these four common pitfalls will steer you away from “big brother” and create a process appreciated by agents, leaders, and customers alike.
Reason #1 – Leadership Built the Program in a Vacuum
A helpful quality program is designed to serve the agents and make them better. With this in mind, agents should be involved from the very beginning to actively participate in the design and objectives. It’s so easy as leaders to create a program to fit our needs, and then proceed to unveil the new mandatory accomplishment to a captive audience. Instead, create a “QM Committee” comprised of both leaders and front line representatives. Engagement will be much higher when agents have skin in the game.
Reason #2 – You Focus on Scores and not Behaviors
I knew we had a problem with our quality program when an agent was setting up his goals and said “I want to achieve ‘x’ score.” How does an agent achieving ‘x’ score help the customer? QM is all about coaching and enhancing behaviors. If you find that discussions about quality revolve around scores received and not about behaviors to improve, there is a major problem. Your scorecard is a big part of this. If you have a 10+ question scorecard with either pass/fail or a complicated grading scale, it’s going to be about the score no matter what you tell the agents. Alternatively, design your form to reflect what really matters; continual improvement. Check out the 3 question scorecard recommended by Jeremy Hyde in step 2 of this article. Whatever you do, be sure your forms and process honestly reflect the type of culture you are working to build. Mixed messages will only serve to confuse and frustrate. You will lose your credibility if you say QM is about positive coaching, but then it becomes all about the score in performance appraisals and leadership reports.
Reason #3 – You Left The Customer Out
I recently witnessed a presentation in which a quality team touted their massive improvement in QA metrics. What they failed to do, however, was associate the accomplishment to any customer impact. That’s fantastic to report a “200% increase in quality” based on your made-up internal scorecard, but have your customers even noticed a difference? If there was no meaningful change to NPS, CSAT, or CES then why does the internal quality score even matter? We tend to make assumptions about what the best customer experience looks like and measure to this ideal. The problem is we are often wrong. Put the customer in the driver’s seat of your quality program and measure accordingly. Check out how Jeremy Watkin does a “quality alignment check” which includes the voice of the customer.
Reason #4 – Your Coaches Can’t Coach
Many of us work hard on this concept of “calibration,” which in QM world is training people to give a similar score for recurring behaviors. While this has it’s place, how more critical is it that we train our leaders to have meaningful coaching conversations? One of the primary duties of the aforementioned QM Committee is to develop a “coach’s library.” This is a collection of trusted resources that coaches can use to have a robust dialog with the agents and extend real steps for improvement. Do you have an agent that’s struggling with writing effective emails to customers? “Writing Customer Service Emails with Leslie O’Flahavan” is for them. Have an agent who’s struggling to to read their audience and provide the right amount of information? DiSC Training is likely to help. The bottom line is you should spend less time focused on score consistency, and more time coaching your coaches.
We hope these tips will help you to avoid some of our past mistakes and build an amazing quality program! A big thanks to Jeremy Watkin, Jeremy Hyde, and Vickie Friece for providing mentorship in this area as we continue to evolve. Be sure to comment with your tips on how to make QM the very best it can be!