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We often talk about the importance of recording calls in the call center to ensure that agents are properly following scripts, to measure customer satisfaction and to assist in proper coaching and training of call center agents. Additionally, most call centers use call recording solutions to determine agents’ and groups’ performance for the purpose of merit raises or promotions. Increasingly, companies are using call recording in combination with analytics to draw out the most information possible from the interactions in order to determine what it is their customers are asking for and how they can better be served, and how call center operations procedures can be streamlined to save time and money. But one of the most critical functions of call recording/quality monitoring solutions is to identify those agents who are hurting the company overall, sometimes with just a single call.

Recently contacted the call center of a business-to-consumer technology company, as the wireless router that I had recently purchased from the company was not properly connecting to my system. I needed help and the information provided by the company clearly stated that if customer assistance was needed, the company’s trained support staff was available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Fat chance. My first clue that the experience was not going to be as bright and shiny as promised was the frustrating trip through the IVR to try and get to an agent. This was my third time calling in, and I had already tried the suggestions provided by the various IVR menu choices I had selected. The warning that call waits were exceeding 20 minutes was not enough to deter me, as I was unable to find help at any of their other suggested locations – such as the company Web site.

Now, conventional wisdom would suggest that after waiting for a good 30 minutes to finally speak with a human customer service agent, I should be the frustrated one on the phone. Instead, I was greeted by a call center agent who was clearly annoyed that I had dared to call in and bother him on the job.

While I cannot say for certain that the company this individual was representing would cringe at the attitude its agent took with a customer on the phone, a recording of the call would have quickly identified the curt responses, impatient questions and complete lack of common courtesy.

In this situation, that is not all that a call center recording solution would have captured. When I had to ask this particular call center agent to slow down when he was providing me with an alternate number that I had to call (after waiting the aforementioned 30 minutes), I was actually hung up on.

I was flabbergasted. My response was somewhat delayed; I could not believe that any call center agent would actually hang up on a customer when it was (ostensibly) his job to provide quality customer service each and every time.
A robust call recording solution would have identified the problem with this agent and quickly enabled the call center manager to resolve the situation. And here is why this is essential for the call center: once I recovered from my surprise, I put the router back into its original packaging and immediately sent it back to the retailer from whom I had purchased it.
That company just lost a customer. Forever. Given the call center agent’s disposition, I am quite sure I am not the first customer treated in this manner and likely not the first customer to be lost because of this “service.”

The proper use of a modern call center recording/quality monitoring solution would have quickly identified this agent as extremely problematic and probably best suited for a position that does not require interaction with the customer base. (Buried deep in the company’s mail room, perhaps.)

I, of course, have told many people about my experience. Will it make them less likely to do business with this company? Maybe. Will this one customer loss put the company out of business? Probably not. But unless this agent spoke to no one else but me all day (not a far-fetched proposition considering his miserable work ethic), the damage was far more widespread than just my account.

In years past, we’ve been busy telling call centers that do outbound telemarketing work that, given the fines they can incur for calling people on do-not-call lists, one rogue agent could cost them millions in just a few days.

The new conventional wisdom is that, if you’re in a competitive business (and who isn’t?) and you are not using quality monitoring solutions to be 100 percent sure that your agents are doing the best they can, that “one rogue agent” can sweep a trail of destruction across your valuable customer relationships.

Guess what? Your best customer is calling. Is your worst agent about to take the call? CiS


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