A quality assurance program helps call center managers deliver the right level of response and service to customers. To implement the program, set objectives for the call center, draw up standards and policies, develop training to ensure understanding and monitor agents’ performance.
Establish Call Center Objectives
The quality assurance program must match your call center objectives. If call centers handle incoming customer service or support calls, set objectives and quality standards for speed and accuracy of response. An example of an objective is "to provide customers with a first-time resolution of their inquiries within an average time frame of 20 minutes." Call centers operating telemarketing programs require objectives focused on results and compliance with legislation. An example is "to maximize sales of our products by phone, while maintaining compliance with the Telemarketing Sales Rule enforced by the Federal Trade Commission."
Set Quality Standards
By establishing metrics for different aspects of call center performance, you can monitor quality and ensure agents are meeting objectives. Metrics such as average time to handle a call, number of customers who call back with the same inquiry or number of times agents transfer calls to obtain information provide an indication of the efficiency and effectiveness of different team members. Metrics on queue waiting times or numbers of abandoned calls highlight problems in call center capacity or staffing levels.
Balance Quality and Operational Needs
Balance operational needs with quality policies. Setting rigid targets for call-handling times, for example, can limit an agent’s ability to fully resolve a customer’s inquiry. The customer may get an incomplete response, with a subsequent impact on satisfaction levels. The policies should allow supervisors to use discretion when assessing the time agents spend on individual calls.
Publish Quality Policies
Provide agents with a guide to the metrics and methods you use to monitor their performance. The quality policy should articulate the standards for handling different types of calls and include guidelines on complying with any relevant legislation, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act or the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
To ensure agents understand quality policies, provide training for new recruits and existing agents. Explain the aims of the quality program, and run sessions to demonstrate techniques for improving quality during calls. Provide individual coaching to new hires or agents unable to meet the standards.
Call center management software and call recording equipment allow you to monitor the content and duration of individual calls as well as operational metrics such as queuing times and numbers of abandoned calls. By analyzing the results, you can identify problems and take remedial action. Share the results with agents and implement a recognition and reward program to encourage improvement in individual and team quality performance.
Based in the United Kingdom, Ian Linton has been a professional writer since 1990. His articles on marketing, technology and distance running have appeared in magazines such as “Marketing” and “Runner's World.” Linton has also authored more than 20 published books and is a copywriter for global companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from Bristol University.