3rd Party Remote Call Monitoring Feature
Managing Quality in a Fast-Growing Organization
Clearly, maintaining quality is critical in every aspect of a company’s operation, but in few areas is it more important than in the call center. The reason is simple: because it is often the initial customer “touch point” – that is, one of the first areas of a business with which a customer makes contact. Accordingly, the call center carries the burden of providing a company’s first impression. Whether that impression is positive or negative can help advance the relationship with the customer or prospect – or end it before it ever really begins. Consequently, managing quality in the call center has to be considered a Top priority.
While developing and sustaining a high level of quality is difficult enough in the call center of an established company, it can be exponentially more challenging in a company that finds itself in an expansion phase. Indeed, businesses that are growing at rapid rates have their hands full when trying to ensure that their call center meets the quality standards that customers and potential customers expect. Let’s examine some of the obstacles that impede rapidly growing companies from attaining the call-center quality they so desperately need in order to thrive and how these pitfalls can be avoided.
At the (Call) Center of It All
It’s not unreasonable to concentrate heavily on the areas that helped generate the growth period in which your business might currently find itself. But, to do so while ignoring the more minute yet essential transactions that define the call center can be commercial suicide. It really won’t matter how well your computers perform if the prospect’s interaction with your call center is off-putting, uninformative and downright forgettable.
Agents and Their Roles
Staffing your call center with quality people is a critical key to success. The demographics of the population, including education levels, literacy, unemployment rates and wage costs are all factors that must be accorded high priority.
Before any hiring is done, however, it is crucial to define the exact roles that the people will play in your call center operation. The role of your call center agents also varies sharply depending on what you’re selling. When your product is actually a service (such as phone, cable, electric, etc.), your call center agents can’t just answer the phones and take orders; they have to provide a more consultative and empathetic interaction.
Creating empathy starts with call center agents putting themselves in the customers’ shoes to understand every type of transaction and how to respond. By understanding how the customer feels, agents can respond with muscle memory when the situation arises.
The Quality Footprint
The truth is, a surprisingly large percentage of companies still do not perform this critical function. And because resources are often stretched thin, this vital aspect of call center success can sometimes be overlooked. This is a huge mistake, mainly because the success of any call center relies heavily on measurable “metrics,” which can only be garnered through effective call monitoring and evaluation.
Many companies try to perform call monitoring using internal resources, but this approach, in many cases, is doomed to go awry. The prevailing reason is that the monitors are generally call center supervisors who, in times of high call volume, are pulled away from their monitoring to perform other tasks or even to help answer phones. As a result, the monitoring program is essentially “cannibalized” in order to meet the business need of the moment. In a rapidly expanding business, where call volume is likely to increase at a much faster rate than in companies experiencing more stable or flat growth, this problem is greatly exacerbated. |
The alternative? Outsourcing the call monitoring function. There are three overarching reasons that outsourcing is a sound business strategy. The first, quite simply, is that it gets done; there is no need to rely on supervisors whose primary function is to supervise, as well as handle phones when the need arises. Secondly, it is, generally speaking, not part of a company’s core competency and should be left to the “professionals.” Thirdly, a comprehensive program can be set up quickly - far more quickly than an internal program of comparable quality.
Other reasons to go outside for this task include:
--Monitoring is a tedious and burnout job
What Are You Monitoring?
It’s also imperative that the criteria being measured are actually important to the customer transaction, thus ensuring that it relates back to the primary goal: quality. Many companies, particularly growing ones, measure certain parameters that aren’t relevant to the quality of the agent/customer interaction. Rather, these parameters are intended to produce data requested by the marketing department for future ad campaigns, or the company is trying to confirm that the agent repeats the customer’s name a certain number of times. While this information is useful in due course, it should ideally be put on hold, at least temporarily, in the early stages of a growing company’s monitoring effort.
There are various media through which to deliver this information: small process changes can be communicated via a standardized format e-mail. Another method is through desk site e-learning – i.e., multimedia, which allows agents to see and hear and interact with the training environment at their desk. This helps increase comprehension and the ability to repeat the desired skill.
Organizations can underestimate the value of off-the-phone time for training. One of the bigger challenges outside of quality monitoring is getting the operational team to spend the money to take an agent off the phone in order to do refresher or ongoing training. In the call center business, there is always competition between answering the phone and educating an associate on a new product launch.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi