According to the Australian Contact Centre Survey 2011, Australian contact centres reported that they were meeting their quality objectives. Yet customer’s perceptions of quality during that same period were falling.
Why do internal measures differ so greatly from customer perceptions? And what can we do to bridge the gap?
The purpose of quality management practices
There are many reasons why businesses establish quality programs, but fundamentally it’s to ensure that people, processes and delivery provide a service that drives both customer satisfaction and efficiency. This, in turn facilitates a number of business goals:
- Enhance revenue opportunities through customer loyalty and advocacy – Loyal customers are more likely to spend again as well as advocate your products and services to prospects.
- Lower operational costs through efficient utilisation of agent resources – The goal of contact centres is to deliver a level of customer service at the smallest cost to the business.
- Improve quality and consistency of customer interactions – Ensure customer service is delivered at level that meets (or indeed exceeds) customer expectations, most of the time.
- Identify inefficient or broken practices and processes – As the main interface between a business and its customers, the contact centre is the first to be aware of inefficient or broken practices or processes that impact their customers’ experience.
Today’s quality practices
Most contact centre professionals will be familiar with the traditional approach to quality management:
- Quality Program Definition – Defines the objectives of the quality program. What should we measure, how often and with what measures?
- Call monitoring – Live listening or recording of agent calls.
- Call evaluation – Includes call assessment (the act of assessing calls against a pre-determined criteria, usually in the form of a quality scorecard) and calibration (ensuring consistent interpretation of quality criteria across the quality assurance team).
- Agent learning and development – Identify agent learning opportunities through call assessments and then develop and coach agents to ensure the consistent delivery of high customer service.
Common issues with the traditional approach
- Inside-out view – Quality measures traditionally present an ‘inside-out’ of customer experience, which often leads to waste. For example, among metrics that have a direct correlation to customer satisfaction, quality scorecards can also include KPIs that, in the customer’s eyes, add little to the service experience.
- Cost – The cost of establishing a dedicated quality team or at the very least, removing team leaders from their usual activities to partake in these activities imposes a significant cost to an already costly business unit.
- Consistency, not accuracy – Calibration answers the question “Are we measuring the same?” but not the question “Are we measuring the right things?”
- Feedback occurs long after the interaction – The cost for a team leader or quality assurance team member to monitor an agent’s live calls is significant. Call recording provides an alternative, however call assessments occur long after an interaction. Consequently the learning opportunities to correct sub-par customer experiences cannot be enacted in a timely manner (usually at the next one-on-one between an agent and team leader), potentially leading to repeat offences.
- Small sample sizes – Only a small sample of an agent’s total call volume is evaluated. Any anomalies observed from this data are more likely to be as a result of random chance rather than a representative sample.
How does a Voice of the Customer program overcome these issues?
- Identify and correct deficiencies in processes and structure that impact the customer experience – A Voice of the Customer program identifies root causes to customer issues, across the business and not just in the contact centre.
- Facilitate continuous service improvements in line with changing customer sentiment – Social media enables customers to share bad service experiences with a global audience. Voice of the Customer programs measure customer sentiment in real time, allowing you to enact service recovery activities before they become a problem.
Three key take-aways
- By asking customers, a Voice of the Customer program focusses quality management on the things that matter most to them.
- A Voice of the Customer program enables quality management to identify root causes more efficiently.
- Feedback closer to the ‘moment of truth’ enables a business to adjust more rapidly.
This post is from Centricity – a division of Global Speech Networks. More here: www.centricity.com.au.