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Ben Hawkins

Sr. Manager, Consulting Services, CMQ/OE
February 07, 2019

Are you familiar with the message, “This call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes”? I think all of us have been on this end of the line, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself what it really means?

Quality assurance is a documented collection of policies and procedures and is a powerful way to enhance the results of your CX strategy. However, more often than not, CX leaders and organizations approach quality assurance utilizing outdated methods along with misinterpreting metrics. This has an abominable domino effect on your overall operations and is the reason why your quality assurance program is failing.

Debunking the Myth: Transaction Monitoring Forms Always Lead to Business Success

Traditionally, customer service departments review a sample size of support transactions and assess them by checking off a box that meets criteria such as:

  • Was the issue resolved?
  • Was their dead air on the call?
  • Did the agent follow all processes?
  • Did the agent use the customer’s name at least three times during the transaction?
  • Were grammatical rules followed in this email?
  • Did the customer feel delighted with the agent’s response?

These questions are often not what drives the businesses internal metrics or truly capture the customers perspective. Although you can still achieve minor improvements with this micro set of data, you will never see major long-term results by looking at these questions in isolation. Any modern business must expand their scope.

Customer experience is not something that can be checked off in boxes; these experiences are milestones and journeys that your customers have when interacting with your brand. Instead of asking the rudimentary questions above, your team should be looking at more important components such as customer effort, defect rate, likelihood to repurchase, and customer lifetime value.

 

How We Fail Our Employees

When attempting to improve customer service teams, overworked supervisors or undertrained analysts are tasked with providing feedback to agents who handled a support transaction they sampled. This feedback is often not constructive or tailored to develop the individual’s needs and most importantly, they often occur after several dozen more transactions have occurred. This makes it difficult for the agent to recall what transaction is being reviewed.

Due to time, budget, and competing priorities, management coaching sessions with agents often do not allow for a formal plan to be developed and executed. This results in the development of frontline agents being delayed to the point of where their performance starts to go backward. As a consequence of poor monitoring forms and a lack of proper coaching, employees more often than not are terminated as a result of inadequate processes and support.

 

Analysis Paralysis

There is one element that plagues every industry and almost every business: data. Analysis paralysis is a real thing. Kalpana Chandrasekhar, from HotelTonight points out on the famous CXYZ podcast that, “Most people don’t realize that it is possible to make good decisions based on imperfect data — just be aware of when to be confident and when to question the data and dig in more.” You can tune in to the episode here.

Analysis paralysis usually occurs for two main reasons:

#1 Insufficient Data Points Are Being Gathered Or Measured

This is a common issue among startups. Most do not understand data sampling or fail to collect the right pieces of data. More often than not, these shortcomings make the data no better than a guess and negatively impact the organization.

For example, an entertainment subscription service was not gathering insights on how its subscribers contacted support. There was no analysis done to track the impact of marketing promotions on support volume or how often customers contacted support, the amount of time it took to a resolve an inquiry, or if the support services helped to retain the customer for another month. This resulted in the company self-inflating their ticket backlog in the tens of thousands while simultaneously missing opportunities for revenue and customer growth. The critical mistake was failing to measure the relationship between their marketing initiative and its impact on support volume.

 

#2 Too Much Data To Be Analyzed

This problem often impacts organizations in the early stages of digital transformation as they have realized that data is essential to proactive innovation. The challenge arises when the data is collected for the sake of having it, and not for the sake of improvement. Eventually, this leads to an excess of data that when put together, is incomprehensible and stifles their ability to be innovative.

For instance, a major telecom company once held its frontline agents accountable for 17 different metrics. With so many different data points being managed on a daily basis, they were not able to make significant gains with their customer experience strategy because only a handful of those 17 metrics actually mattered. For example, when you couple customer effort and average handling time (AHT) together, you might think that these are two metrics that go hand in hand and that as AHT goes up, so does customer effort. However, customer effort has less to do with how long a single transaction takes and more to do with how helpful your knowledge base is, easy access to contact information, number of times they had to contact the company, and how quickly the issue was resolved.

 

Modern Approaches to Quality Assurance

A successful quality assurance program is composed of a collection of policies and procedures that embraces the duality of quality: proactive and reactive approaches. This empowers an organization to differentiate their customer experience by leveraging both proactive and reactive approaches to delivering quality.

The Impact on Customer Service Departments

When organizations don’t utilize both proactive and reactive approaches to quality assurance, it has a domino effect on customer service departments.

While some organizations see the value that customer service departments can provide, too few organizations have empowered their customer service departments to be successful. Perhaps even worse, customer service departments are viewed as a silo and are not considered as a central part of the overall success of the business.

But, what does this actually look like in the real world?

Take a look at your data and ask yourself these four questions:

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, your organization is probably focused on reactive approaches to quality and is in need of more employee empowerment.

Customer service should be at the center of any organizations decision-making process that is related to marketing, product development, channel strategy, sales, global growth, IT, and business intelligence. Decisions that occur within these departments impact the effectiveness and efficiency of a customer service department. Without it, customer service teams have to mitigate the impacts of those decisions and as a result, the customer experience suffers.

 

How A True Quality Assurance Program Empowers Teams to Remedy Issues

A fully functioning and well-designed quality assurance framework is a foundational element for any business to scale and grow sustainably while maintaining their culture and providing a world-class CX. Some of the benefits of a quality management framework are:

A study by Dimension Data found that 84% of organizations who are working to improve their customer experience see an increase in revenue, and building a quality assurance framework is the best place to start. Check out how you can implement this in your 2019 strategy here.

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