Call center quality assurance (QA) is crucial for the success of any contact center, no matter its size or industry.
Implementing call center QA criteria offers many benefits, including improved customer service and satisfaction, reduced employee churn, better agent effectiveness, and increased customer engagement and retention.
On the other hand, failing to implement QA criteria often results in inconsistent customer service, uneven agent quality, and a lack of clear metrics and goals—all of which can lower your overall customer experience and lead to unreliable agent performance throughout your call center.
With that in mind, it’s important to create a call center QA framework for your live agents as a way to ensure consistent quality throughout the customer journey. Of course, this can sometimes result in some agent pushback, but the risk of doing nothing is typically too great for any call center.
The best way to ensure consistent call center QA is to implement clear criteria for your live agents to follow during and after customer calls. Here are nine important criteria to follow:
1. Active Listening
Active listening is paying full attention to someone speaking, showing that you’re listening, refraining from judgment, and giving feedback after the person is done talking.
This skill is vital for call center agents because it shows attention to detail and care when trying to solve customer problems. Examples include using tracking statements like “I understand” and “Okay” to show customers that you’re actively following what they’re saying, repeating and rephrasing customer statements, asking open-ended and probing questions, and recalling information that was previously shared by the customer later on in the conversation.
Call center agents who don’t use active listening techniques risk failing to understand the caller’s needs and being unable to solve their issue or deliver a strong customer service experience. This can be identified by a live agent’s interruptions of a customer they’re talking to, lack of a first call resolution, the inability to solve a customer’s issue altogether, and negative customer feedback.
If your agents struggle with active listening, there are plenty of tips and strategies to help them. These include coaching them to:
- Focus better and give the caller their undivided attention
- Paraphrase and repeat what the customer says
- Validate the customer’s concerns with tracking statements
- Ask follow-up questions and confirm that all of the information they have is correct.
2. Account Verification
Verifying a caller’s account is also crucial to ensuring for call center QA. This process entails getting account information from the caller to confirm their identity and ownership of the account.
Account information varies by company and organization, but it typically includes a customer’s name, phone number, email address, and physical address. Additional information—such as the account owner’s birthday and personal security questions—may also be used.
Account verification is very important because it protects against unauthorized account access, which can result in everything from legal (and therefore financial) risk to poor customer service reputation.
Account verification is typically done by asking security and identity verification questions at the start of each call. Failing to do so exposes both your business and customers to data breaches and even identity theft.
To ensure proper account verification with every customer action, call centers should implement standard procedures for every agent to verify account owners without fail. This should include getting the name and other important account credentials of a caller at the start of every call and making sure there’s an escalation protocol in place for callers who fail to verify their identity.
3. Escalation Procedures
Depending on a given customer’s issue, your live agent may not always be equipped to provide a direct resolution. Therefore, it’s important for agents to understand how to escalate a call to the right department or team to ensure that the customer’s issue is addressed promptly with the best customer service possible.
For example, if a customer has a question about the status of a return and the agent handling the call does not have access to the information the caller needs, the agent would have to escalate the issue to someone in the customer service department who does. Without proper escalation procedures and a clear plan for communications in place, businesses and organizations risk failing to resolve issues effectively—and potentially harming their customer service reputation as a result.
To ensure that all agents understand how to escalate a call to the right department, make it an important part of call flow and management training so that your call agents know exactly when and where to direct calls that they can’t resolve on their own. Agents struggling with escalation will likely need extra coaching in this area and should spend extra time studying the company’s organizational chart as well.
4. Upsell Opportunities
If done well, your call center can also be used as an opportunity to upsell certain products and services.
Upselling while on a customer call can be a quick and effective way to make more sales to an existing customer, increasing their customer lifetime value (CLV), and boosting your company’s bottom line. An example could be offering an upgraded service plan to a caller who inquires about issues with their current plan.
Failing to upsell is a missed opportunity for any business, though it’s important to avoid being too pushy or aggressive with an upsell pitch, as this could turn callers off and negatively impact their experience. Instead, upselling should be worked into the call script for all of your agents to recognize when an opportunity comes up.
Lastly, keep in mind that some of your agents may not have sales experience, so they may need some extra coaching in this area to make sure that their upsell pitches are subtle, effective, and don’t interfere with the overall customer service experience.
5. Additional Concerns
Making sure your call center agents know how to handle the additional concerns of your customers is also important for QA.
When wrapping up a customer call, it’s important for your agents to see if there’s anything else they can help the caller with. This is an overlooked but important aspect of call center QA, as it ensures that the customer’s needs are fully addressed, even if it’s not what they called about.
Call centers that don’t address the additional concerns of their callers risk failing to provide the best customer service possible. Make sure that following up with additional concerns after a call resolution is part of your call center script to offer top-notch customer service—even if it’s just adding a final question to the script.
6. Call Management
Implementing proper call management criteria ensures that your agents know when to take action and how to proceed with all kinds of customer calls.
Knowing how to manage a call is a crucial QA criteria, as it helps guide the customer towards a prompt and successful resolution. A key metric in this area is first call or first contact resolution (FCR), although other KPIs like call length and the number of escalations are also important.
Successful call management involves knowing what to do and when to do it. If a customer has an inquiry about the status of a new order, for example, the process could include asking the caller to wait temporarily, looking up the relevant information in your customer relationship management (CRM), and promptly informing the customer of the status of their order.
Failure to manage calls properly can lead to unnecessarily long and confusing calls that don’t resolve a customer’s issue, hurting your customer service reputation and creating a negative customer experience.
To make sure that agents know how to manage calls effectively, train them to look for the actions they can take to help, how to use your company’s CRM quickly and successfully, and how to interact with customers who appear impatient or annoyed on a call by reassuring and sympathizing with them.
7. Call Flow
Making sure your call center agents are sticking to the script and following proper customer call procedures is another key part of call center QA.
Call flow can best be described as a road map for agents to follow while they’re on a customer call. It provides agents with prompts on what they should say, do, and ask depending on the customer’s needs and issue at hand. It also includes which tools to use and how to use them, if necessary.
Keeping a good call flow is vital for call center QA because it helps guide agents to successful call resolutions by reducing mistakes, boosting agent efficiency, and ensuring a smoother customer experience overall.
Alternatively, agents who are not trained in proper call flow procedures can be aimless, inattentive, and ultimately ineffective during calls. To avoid this, provide your agents with a detailed script and train them with mock calls that require the use of your CRM and other necessary tools.
Proper documentation of customer calls and interactions generally includes call recording, text transcripts, and notes taken in CRM software.
Documenting customer calls is critical because it provides a paper trail for all customer issues, holds agents accountable, ensures proper customer service, and even provides training material for new agents. Meanwhile, improper documentation creates a lack of accountability and makes it harder to follow up with customers.
To ensure that all calls are properly documented, use call recording technology and train your agents to keep track of the customer interaction in your CRM, noting the customer’s issue with key information, including whether or not the issue was resolved. Agents who struggle with call documentation may need extra coaching in areas like CRM navigation and how to take notes effectively.
9. Sharing Data and Customer Feedback
Finally, sharing data and customer feedback can play a key role in making sure your call center is delivering the best service possible.
This includes sharing customer call KPIs and metrics among agents as well as post-call customer surveys with callers. Gathering, analyzing, and obtaining insights from these sources can help give you the information you need to optimize your call center’s QA standards, set goals, understand your customer base better, and hold everyone accountable.
For example, agents can ask customers if they’d like to take a brief post-call survey to obtain feedback and gauge the call center’s customer service quality. Likewise, important metrics such as first call resolution, call abandonment rate, and the like can be tracked with call center technology and compiled into monthly reports to better understand how agents are performing—both individually and collectively.
Failing to collect, analyze, and gain insights from data leaves call centers flying blind and unable to identify problems, implement best practices, and ensure proper QA and customer service going forward.
Thus, implementing post-call surveys for customer calls and monthly KPI reports can ensure that your call center is armed with the data it needs to make adjustments in the future.
Improve Quality Assurance at Your Call Center Today
Running a successful call center can be tough work, but by implementing quality assurance criteria at your call center, you can ensure that your live agents are offering the best customer service possible.
As a result, you can improve your first call resolution rates and make sure that your agents have all the tools and techniques they need to enjoy their work and improve your company’s overall customer service experience.