Sarah-Jane Heber-Hall - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
In September, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) issued new guidelines relating to staff that are incentivised on sales. Their concerns were focused on incentive schemes with high-risk features, where advisors can earn significant bonuses for the sale. The FSA’s concerns were that most organisations do not have effective systems in place to control the potential risk of mis-selling arising from these incentives.
The result of this announcement has led to companies such as Lloyds TSB, Barclays and British Gas looking at alternative schemes, including recognition and rewards for good customer service.
Products like Quality Evaluation and Dashboard tools will help create an alternative method of fair and impartial recognition and rewards decision-making, based on performance and customer service qualities that match the standards and core values of the organisation.
Planning what you want out of the activity is the primary focus. Make sure that both the company and the employee understand how the process of performance measurement will work and how it will affect them. Set clear and defined objectives and expectations and try to involve them in the process as much as possible. Manage these tasks to occur at a regular time and make sure that they are considered important and a priority, by both parties.
By monitoring performance throughout the company, it is possible to compare and contrast individuals, teams and departments and produce reports and statistics, based around the performance results. The benefits of these findings not only ensure that the company is operating effectively, but it can also be directly fed back to employees, for motivational purposes, through introducing performance related bonus schemes, reward and recognition schemes and best practice libraries, where examples of agents good performance is made available to all, for coaching and training purposes, subsequently acting as a powerful motivational tool.
Making it an interactive experience also helps. One leading contact centre, allowed their staff to listen to the intended calls that they were going to be appraised on, prior to the session. This allowed the agent to be more scathing in their interpretation of these specific highlighted performance snapshots, than the team leader carrying out the appraisals would ever be. This made the appraisals more focused and productive, and the agents felt more prepared and less defensive, as a result. They had already anticipated what the feedback was likely to be, and were prepared to look at ways to improve, or adapt their specific skills, where necessary. Hearing good aspects of their performance and being praised for it was also motivational and positive.
Offering a transparent, impartial and consistent way of rewarding and incentivising staff that also allows measurement and management reporting to occur regarding staff performance, must be a proactive and positive method of management.
Publish Date: November 23, 2012 3:11 PM
Look closely at your business
- Understanding how your employees are performing is vital for your business
- Understanding what your customers think and listening to their feedback is vital for your business growth
- But how do you do this consistently and impartially?
Best Practice in Quality Monitoring
Most contact centres today use quality management processes, but by becoming a voyeur of your own organisation or department and, in effect, monitoring your quality monitoring, you begin to see and understand where areas of improvement are with a fresh understanding of where the contact centre team can deliver real business value.
While many companies operate a quality program, performance spikes will probably occur at implementation but will then quickly flat line over time, making the objective a process that is adding little value in its current format.
Understand the Purpose of your Quality Monitoring Program
Many contact centres have never changed their quality process since it was first implemented, perhaps many years ago. At the time it was implemented it likely had an important strategic focus and its objective and purpose was clearly defined. But is the process you implemented years ago, still aligned with the current corporate objectives?
- An effective quality monitoring program should be an iterative multi-step process designed to:
- Measure agent adherence to internal policies and procedures.
- Improve consistency and quality of customer interactions across all channels, not just the telephone channel.
- Assess business execution – detect and fix broken or inefficient processes or operational issues throughout --the company.
- Improve agent performance.
- Identify agent training needs.
- Pinpoint policies or processes that frustrate and alienate customers.
- Maximize every customer interaction.
- Identify business trends.
- Improve the customer experience.
If your current quality program is not delivering value in all of these areas today, then it’s time to step back and reassess.
Think about Data Inputting Elements of Quality too
Agents spend large periods inputting data during and after calls, so monitoring and assessing these tasks are also vital to provide a truly holistic visual aid to agent performance.
By implementing technology like screen capture onto agent PC’s, managers can obtain impartial means of checking that data inputting processes are being performed properly and accurately.
Screen Capture also offers an insight into whether current processes are illogical, complex, longwinded or problematic, so that better methods can be reviewed and realised. It also provides an alternative means of providing comprehensive audit and Quality Assessment (QA) feedback.
Understand the Results of your Quality Monitoring Program
Once you have agreed on the objectives and desired value outcomes from your quality monitoring program, you need to be able to measure and articulate the results of the process you have in place against all the areas described previously.
Whilst publishing a weekly quality score on a performance dashboard seems to be a common method of assessing and articulating the results of the quality program, it is common that quality scores do flat line over time, distorting the true value the process can deliver.
Many call centre professionals admit that their quality assurance personnel don’t always receive the time and resources they need to lead an effective quality program. Weaknesses occur from the lack of key data being uncovered during monitoring with the enterprise as a whole, preventing the true value of the quality monitoring process being revealed.
Results of the quality process should be measured in real terms and shared across the organisation, including:
- Improvements in advisor productivity
- Enhancements in customer loyalty, satisfaction and customer experience
- Improvements in inefficient and broken operating procedures
- Increased sales and service performance
- Reduced operating costs
- Improved employee satisfaction
- Reduced attrition
Ensure your quality monitoring program has comprehensive reporting capabilities for capturing, measuring and reporting the results in each of these areas on an on-going basis.
Consider who is Responsible for Monitoring Calls and Why
Once you’ve decided why you are listening to calls, you need to think about who is the appropriate and most relevant person or group of people to evaluate the calls. For most value, it may be worth considering whether different groups should be responsible for evaluating either the same or different areas.
Quality and customer experience is often measured from an internal perspective. Can a team leader really judge whether a particular call delivered a great customer experience? Does your quality process and technology enable you to have customers evaluate calls?
Often, evaluating calls is the sole responsibility of the team leader. The team leader should be responsible for agent performance and development, but consider having a separate quality assurance (QA) team that is responsible for monitoring strategic initiatives on an enterprise wide basis. QA teams should also monitor the final transaction disposition in the back office, back office trends and root cause analysis to get to the bottom of problems and process improvements.
The training and education team could also be part of the call evaluation process to measure the impact of the training courses they are developing and delivering and to identify opportunities for improvements in their area.
Bring advisors into the process and have them evaluate their own calls, as well as their peers. Engaging advisors in the process will foster motivation and empowerment in addition to enhancing their perception of the credibility of the program. It is also usual that they will be more scathing on their performance and therefore more receptive to work towards suggestions for improvement.
Determine the Optimum Frequency and Number of Evaluations
In order to have confidence in the results of the program, you will need to ensure that the results are based on a statistically significant analysis of service delivery and quality. What do the number and type of calls you are evaluating per month represent as a percentage of the total call volume and does that percentage represent a statistically relevant sample?
Most contact centre’s do not have resources to conduct a statistically valid sample because listening to calls and evaluating them is a labour intensive and time consuming process and therefore the most common criteria is to evaluate three to five calls per agent per month. Unfortunately this criterion is not always the more effective.
Consider moving away from this approach or adapting it for audit purposes or “spot checks”. Look towards a more strategic approach to the challenge, such as performance-based monitoring. Heavily monitor your best performers to understand what it is they are doing that makes them the top performers and identify ways to start driving this best practice through the organisation.
Advisor-led monitoring enables advisors to flag calls where they feel they need more training, when they did a great job or to bring a potential customer or process issue to management’s attention. This also engages them in the process and can impact employee satisfaction and attrition.
In addition, you may want to consider automating call evaluation through speech analytics technology. Speech analytics allows you to automatically listen to 100 percent of your call recordings and automatically analyse them for content and context that matches the criteria you choose to index and analyse. This enables contact centres to focus their limited quality resources on high impact calls. Additionally, speech analytics can automatically categorize every recorded call so that quality efforts can incorporate all types of calls received and also designate calls for review by different departments, such as training or a cross functional business team, if a process improvement opportunity is identified. The Indesit company has calculated that they have increased their productivity by 45%, through the use of this technology.
Review Your Scorecards on a Regular Basis
Many contact centres spend a lot of time developing scorecards when the quality monitoring program is first implemented, but while the business focus and the contact centre objectives may change over the years, the scorecards tend to remain untouched and therefore are often no longer aligned to the corporate objectives. Scorecards should be reviewed and assessed at least every 9 – 12 months.
As more and more companies are embracing customer-focused quality, the scorecard should become less about metrics and more about improving value from a customer’s perspective.
Quality programs that focus on behaviours and use scorecards as a trigger to identify opportunities for developing critical skills and knowledge provide agents with the tools and feedback needed to truly improve the customer interaction. In turn, this allows team leaders to arrange specific and useful coaching and training sessions.
Many organisations evaluate and score calls in isolation from other performance data. Consider incorporating the quality scoring into a performance management solution to provide a holistic view of performance. A performance management solution will enable you to recreate scorecards and also embed additional performance data, graphs and trends to ensure that the process remains
It’s important that you do not just review the questions and sections on the scorecard, but ensure that you also review the scoring ranges on a regular basis too. The ranges should be high enough so that an excellent transaction is clearly identifiable, but not so high that few agents can attain an excellent rating. Plus, be sure to tighten the ranges over time to ensure that the scores do not flat line. When a quality monitoring program is first implemented for example, excellence might be represented by any score over 85 percent. Most customers are unlikely to think that 85 percent is excellent and so over time the range needs to be narrowed to 90 percent and above.
Ensure Your Coaching Process is Effective and is Taking Place
Lack of coaching is the primary reason why most quality monitoring programs fail. Most organizations have a process whereby quality coaching sessions should be conducted on the back of calls being evaluated and scored, to provide feedback and mentoring to improve performance. However, too often these sessions don’t take place as often as they ought to because of team leader time constraints. Listening to calls without providing the feedback not only does not provide any value, but the quality process then becomes a waste process.
Coaching is the most important part of the QA process and is the delivery mechanism for improving performance and providing value. Advisors and team leaders should both be as prepared as possible for such sessions. Advisors should have had the opportunity to listen to the call and consider what was good and what could be improved, so that coaching sessions are as effective as possible.
All too often, coaching sessions take place with no output / actions. Feedback alone may be enough for some advisors to up their game, but for most people some additional actions, such as setting incremental goals, attending additional training, etc is required if performance improvements and value is to be derived from the process.
Most companies have no visibility into this part of the QA process and they assume that because the procedure says five coaching sessions per week, then these sessions will be conducted and that they will be conducted well.
Consider how you can track the number of coaching sessions that need to take place, time to action, time spent in coaching and the effectiveness of that coaching session. You may be surprised at the results and certainly would then be able to identify opportunities to improve this process and deliver more value out of the quality process. Integrating a performance management solution into your quality process would allow you to track these coaching sessions in terms of timeliness and value and then report on how effectively this part of the process is being managed. In addition, incorporating the quality process into the performance management solution would enable an organisation to capture, monitor, identify and implement or improve best practice into all coaching sessions.
Ensure You Have a Complete Training Process
Developing a comprehensive training process is a significant part of a quality monitoring program. Use knowledge gleaned from the quality process to identify trends and training opportunities and measure the effectiveness of the training deliveries and methods. Include a process for sharing recommendations to the training department, or ideally have them be part of the evaluation process itself. Ensure all training, reference materials, along with policies and procedures are accurate and up-to-date. The training department and quality team should hold monthly meetings to assess the effectiveness of training and identify new opportunities.
Utilise actual calls into the learning process. Great calls can be transformed into best practice training clips and sent via email or shared on a central server for the whole team / contact centre to listen to. This can prove an unbiased and positive way to show people what a good call sounds like and a great motivational tool for those advisors whose calls are utilised.
Don’t Forget Reward and Recognition
Some contact centres use the quality monitoring process simply to identify opportunities for performance improvement. It can also be a powerful tool for motivating advisors and as such, a rewards and recognition element of the process is fundamental. Recognition can be as simple as sharing a great call amongst peers or inviting top performers to take part in department activities, such as mentoring new hires, gaining an “expert” status in a specific subject matter or even including them in an up-skilling session or workshop.
However, recognition must be done in a way that ensures it is not always the top performers being recognized – remember the most improved advisors and the ones that add value by flagging calls that identify broken processes. This helps to promote empowerment and “buy-in” by the whole department or team.
It is never too late to evaluate your quality process and it’s important to recognise whether your organisation is servicing a process or adding value. Your quality process needs to be assessed regularly to ensure it is delivering results – if it’s not adding value then make changes now. Implementing best practice and evaluating the entire customer experience will deliver business benefits that go beyond agent productivity. It will ensure that you make significant steps in advancing the perception of the contact centre’s value within the entire organisation.
What should I consider regarding monitoring of staff?
New technologies make it possible for employers to monitor many aspects of their employees’ jobs, especially on telephones, computer terminals, through electronic and voice mail, and when employees are using the internet. A specific white paper regarding telephone call recording in the UK covers the topic more comprehensively, but the main theme is that where recording/monitoring takes place in the course of a business (as opposed to detect a crime) staff should be notified which phone lines/types of calls will be monitored and should be asked to consent to this happening. Therefore, unless company policy specifically states otherwise (and even this is not assured), your employer may listen, watch and read most of your workplace communications.
Managers have an obligation to their company and staff to monitor activities and ensure compliance with applicable codes of practice, policies or legal obligations. As long as it is done fairly, consistently and transparently and companies ensure that employees are aware that they are being monitored, this appears to be sufficient.
Create a policy, add the information to employment contracts or staff handbooks to inform them of this procedure. Let them what is being monitored and for what purposes. Inform them of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour with regards to the use of computers, the internet, email and voice mail and monitor in the same manner as for other compliance and best practice matter within the company.
Finally, ensure that customers and other parties who may contact the organisation is also aware that “their calls may be recorded, for quality and training purposes”.
Publish Date: November 21, 2012 12:44 PM