DSC Tech Library
Customer Call Centers
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to Call Center technology and Best Practices plus software and products.
Since the Company's inception in 1978, DSC has specialized in the development of communications software and systems. Beginning with our CRM and call center applications, DSC has developed computer telephony integration software and PC based phone systems. These products have been developed to run on a wide variety of telecom computer systems and environments.
The following article presents product or service information relating to call centers and customer service help desks.
Changes are required for quality assurance monitoring when rating the performance of call center agents.
In the aricle "It's Time For A Monitoring Makeover" by Matt Hoffman, he states:
"The traditional model of call center monitoring needs a major overhaul. While call centers want to ensure that customer requests are handled politely, knowledgeably and to the customer’s satisfaction, too often call center managers use an inadequate system to measure the reps’ performance. Realize that you can’t measure all aspects of a call simply by checking off a box or assigning a number value. Other factors that are just as important exist. So, it’s time to make a few changes.
A quality monitoring program allows supervisors to measure the performance of their customer service representatives (CSRs), ensuring they are providing service according to the standards established for your company. It will also confirm that your CSRs have the necessary skills to perform their jobs and will identify any areas where additional training is needed. It also evaluates the overall quality of the customer service provided, but importantly, it also helps identify customer expectations and where your policies and procedures can change.
WHY TRADITIONAL SYSTEMS FALL SHORT
Many contact centers use a “tick box” sheet listing specific criteria, checking off whether the CSR performed the various functions correctly and adding up their points. While “tick boxes” can measure the quality of interactions to some degree, many factors go overlooked.
This type of monitoring does not accurately measure quality or complete the goals of an interactive, “think outside the box” monitoring program. Tick box mentality only looks at the specific criteria listed and does not always allow your quality team to really listen to the entire interaction between your CSR and your customer. Such a system has a number of shortfalls. For example, you cannot predict every scenario on the evaluation form. Also, not all questions will apply to the various departments within the call center. While an appropriate evaluation question for sales may be “Did the CSR offer additional merchandise?” it will not apply to someone in the tech support or billing department.
It is easy to isolate the observations from the interaction into a limited perspective while losing sight of the big picture. The CSR might exhibit some nuances -- both positive and negative -- that you cannot accurately measure with a number value or a “yes/no” question. Monitoring in this fashion does not provide a springboard for the CSR to understand and improve his or her behaviors, which is the ultimate goal of monitoring.
THE NEW METHOD YIELDS BETTER RESULTS
When assessing the CSR’s tone of voice, the normal choices on a tick sheet would be either “Yes, No, N/A,” or a number from one to five. But just how would you assess whether the CSR is speaking too slowly? Or too rapidly? Was curt with the caller? Or whether the CSR just seems disinterested? You can’t measure such qualities on a numerical scale.
A better way to monitor involves evaluating the CSR’s behavior and skill set. Rather than isolating single actions, you take the entire interaction into account and focus on high-level behaviors, such as overall rapport with the caller or whether the CSR did what they said they were going to do. Such an approach coaches to specific areas rather than relying on specific point values. Ultimately, it is a method that encourages CSRs and their supervisors to think outside the “check” box. This new philosophy involves three distinct elements:
Let’s examine these various elements and the part they play in the overall success of this new monitoring system.
- New evaluation categories: Program Knowledge, Systems Knowledge, Connection with the Caller, and Accountability;
- New scoring values; and
- Incorporating customer sentiment.
NEW EVALUATION CATEGORIES
1. Program knowledge: This means that the CSR understands the company’s various offerings, policies, and procedures, and is capable of conveying them to the caller. It also indicates that the CSR demonstrates appropriate decision-making skills to best aid customers.
2. Systems knowledge: This refers to the CSR’s knowledge of when and how to effectively use various system tools, how to navigate within the system, and how to use help resources.
3. Connection with the caller: This is one of the most important categories and involves treating the caller with care, sincerity, compassion and empathy. It also means conveying information, at the right time, in easy-to-understand terms without a language barrier.
4. Accountability: This involves displaying ownership by actions and word choice when resolving the customer’s issues. Additionally, it means ensuring that the customer is left with a complete understanding of what happened during the call and the next steps to be taken, if any.
When employees are monitored in these four categories, CSRs and their supervisors will have a comprehensive picture of how well CSRs are interacting with customers and in what areas they can improve.
NEW SCORING VALUES
Just as call center managers need a new way to monitor CSR performance, they also need a new way to grade that performance. Rather than using numbers to assess a CSR’s worth, a more subjective scale will be far more revealing. A rating system like the following would be ideal:
These ratings will give CSRs a clear picture of how well they handle customer calls. This is something that can’t be conveyed as well using a number score.
- Excellent – The CSR did everything possible to assist and went “above and beyond” in assisting the caller.
- Satisfactory – The CSR exhibited most of the desired attributes and handled the caller’s inquiry well.
- Development Opportunity – The CSR exhibited only some of the desired category attributes and didn’t handle the caller’s inquiry to a satisfactory level.
- Unacceptable – The CSR failed to meet the basic behavior attributes and the caller’s needs.
INCORPORATING CUSTOMER SENTIMENT
While monitoring your CSRs is a valuable exercise, is it really enough? To complete the monitoring picture, you need to add customer sentiment. While you should not use this information as part of your overall assessment of your CSRs performance, it is very useful in making certain that customers receive the best possible service. Monitoring your callers’ attitudes identifies how they responded and if they enjoyed interacting with your organization. It also serves to confirm that your CSRs are resolving issues and utilizing the correct tools while conveying sincerity, empathy, and a positive attitude.
In evaluating the caller’s sentiment, be sure to answer questions such as:
Customer loyalty is a big predictor of a company’s success. Make sure that your customers are having satisfying interactions with your CSRs so they have another reason to stay loyal to your company.
- How did the caller respond?
- What was his or her attitude at the beginning and close of the call?
- What key comments did the caller emphasize?
- What did the caller not say but subtly express in his or her interaction with the CSR?
- In the end, was the caller happy to interact with your company?
TIME FOR A CHANGE
Monitoring the customer by this new method provides contact center supervisors with a wealth of information on many levels. On the CSR level, it provides feedback that is more individualized and specific to each CSR. On the customer level, you will find out what they are really saying. And on a company level, you will gain feedback that will allow you to determine whether you are truly providing customers with what they really want or need.
So while you may think your current system is doing an adequate job of monitoring your employees’ calls, adequate isn’t enough anymore. Competition is tough today. You need to have every edge you can. Helping your CSRs better satisfy your customers is the ultimate goal of monitoring and the lifeline of your company’s future success."
Matthew Hoffman is a Consultant and Quality Assurance Manager at Kowal Associates, Inc. a customer service consulting firm located in Boston, MA. Working with Fortune 500 companies, they focus on customer service strategy, quality monitoring, IVR, security, and speech recognition technology implementation. For more information visit www.kowalassociates.com or call 617-892-9000.