20 Call Center Quality Assurance Considerations – the Big Picture

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  1. Define goal:  Map your QA process to business goals
  2. Build a QA quality culture and behavior framework:  framework centered around improving the customer experience by focusing on the effort the customer makes, minimizing conduct risk and providing the most positive customer outcomes
  3. Remove the perception of QA evaluation as being a punitive process
  4. Pay close attention to correlation between QA scores and customer survey scores – note:  Only 20-25% of customer satisfaction with a call is determined by the content of their conversation with agents
  5. Progressive businesses are moving on from tick box, features and benefits format to customer engagement / active listening, matching and outcomes
  6. The QA team should be regarded as experts in driving the customer experience agenda across the organization and be regarded as an integral part of the company value chain
  7. Business Intelligence Team uses the data gathered through quality process for providing the business with performance insight & predictive analytics
  8. QA should inform product and product governance:   Undertake product reviews / what do customers like, dislike
  9. The QA and compliance teams need to work hand-in-glove; ensuring compliant customer interactions for both new and existing customers: regulatory rules are now given
  10. Red flag process vigorously enforced
  11. Senior Executives need visibility:  Customer experience, product / marketing / managing risk
  12. Build processes and systems to share information across the business:  Share Voice of the Customer feedback with other departments
  13. Hold regular round tables with Product, Marketing, Sales:  highlight trends, risks, feedback
  14. Influence the organization:  don’t operate in a silo
  15. Include agents and team leads in the calibration process
  16. Calibrate based on expertise, not deviation from average or arbitrary targets
  17. Use Calibrations to refine QA forms and remove ambiguity
  18. Look to your teams to identify and share anecdotal feedback:  sometimes it is OK to work in the grey
  19. Keep your QA forms fresh and relevant
  20. Deep-dive analysis of the data to identify trends, insight and areas that require greater focus

Adventures in Speech Analytics – An Introduction

A lot of people in the contact center scene have heard about Speech Analytics (SA) but do not know the purpose of the technology. Researching the topic can be overwhelming so let’s start with the basics.

What is Speech Analytics?

Speech Analytics is the technique of taking calls that have been recorded to acquire data. It is to call centers what Google is to the internet. You can search for keywords or phrases to identify specific topics or behaviors during a customer-agent interaction.

What can I use Speech Analytics for?

You can use SA for a lot of things. Say your company requires sales agents to read to the customer a disclaimer about E911 (Enhanced 911) at point of sale- you need to know the percentage of agent compliance in your sales queue. You could spend an eternity going through calls randomly and hope to find what you are looking for or you can use SA technology to search for the specific phrase you are looking for like “E911 will not function until power is restored” and examine the data for accuracy.

You can also use SA technology to improve an existing process. For example one of the biggest issues in any size call center is First Call Resolution (FCR). You want to make sure that your agents are handling your customers concerns the first time around. The more customers have to call in results in lower customer satisfaction which could result in your customers ultimately leaving you for a competitor. SA can help you identify the hot topics that trigger repeat calls and help you develop processes to resolve them.

How does a Speech Analytics tool work? How does it know to find what I am looking for?

A SA tool typically is broken down into the following functional segments:

Speech Engine- This portion does the initial analysis of audio and will convert it into a file that contains a series of phonemes or transcribed text.
Indexing- This portion improves accuracy of the speech engine. It will try to make sense of the data from the speech engine and index it for additional analysis, ad hoc searching and queries. The tools will import/ingest data from the call center’s recording system(s).
Query Engine- This is where authorized end users are able to define their queries and results they want in the SA tool.
Search- Used to perform ad hoc search terms on indexed audio files. Operates similar to a google search.
Reporting Dashboard- This is where you can go to organize system data in a customizable and easy to visually digest manner. In this area you are able to drill down and filter results to your needs.
There are 2 primary types of speech engines:

Phonetic Speech Engine- the English Language has 40 phonemes. A phonetic based SA tool will search your keywords and phrases broken down in phonemes in order to return your search results faster. Example: “an-l-it-iks” or “Foh-net-ik”. A benefit to a phonetic based SA tool is that it is not limited to a pre-defined dictionary.
Text to speech (also known as LVCSR) Engine – A text to speech tool will convert speech into text using a dictionary. It will then locate the occurrences of query words in the transcribed call. A benefit of this type of SA tool is that it creates a transcript of the customer-agent interaction.
What is a Query?

Queries are an absolute must to have in your SA tool in order to get the best results. A query is a prebuilt search that has been created within the SA tool to help an end user best refine their ad hoc searches. An organization will typically have some resources set aside who specialize in creating specific queries that are of significant value to the organization. For example a telecommunications company may want to have queries built around the core lines of business they offer in addition to having queries built for specific call drivers like payment arrangements or general inquiries. Typically queries should validate at 90% accuracy to be considered functional as it will reduce the amount of false positives and missed hits.

What is an ad hoc search?

An ad hoc search is a custom search performed within the SA tool. This is the exciting aspect of speech analytics as your options for what you can search for are relatively limitless. Ad hoc searches are the core of any SA program because they allow your organization to deep dive into the heart of your customer-agent interactions. Generally the best way to ad hoc search is when they are run concurrently with an existing relevant query within the system to vet out the best results. Keep in mind that you will need to validate the accuracy of your results to ensure that you are gathering the most relevant results for your ad hoc search. Further elaboration on the ad hoc search process will be discussed in the next article.

As you can see there is a lot of power that a good speech analytics program has to offer. There is an increasing need for contact centers to deliver better customer experiences along with reducing cost and improving agent performance. People are now starting to understand that a customer interaction is a revenue generating asset that contains a vast amount of insight data that needs to be tapped into, understood and acted on.

See you soon in part 2 of Adventures in Speech Analytics when we take a closer look at queries and the ad hoc search process and strategies within a speech analytics tool.

Written by: Diana Aviles, Operations Manager, Speech Analytics at BPA Quality


Audit to Insight: from ‘box check’ to driving business tranformation

Who can tell you what your customers are saying – as it happens? Who can you talk to about your customers’ reaction to your latest campaign? Who can provide insight into how your Advisors are adapting to the recent process changes or new initiatives?

In each market, at each site, within each team, language, skill set – all in real time? Answer, of course, your Quality Team.

Your QA Teams, whether in house or your expert partner, on top of delivering the business requirement, are your eyes and ears into your customer’s experiences interacting with your organisation. The 000s of customer stories they listen to uniquely expose them to what’s really happening in your organisation. So how do you extract this wealth of insight and make it actionable within your business?

An increasing number of organisations engage with us to enhance, sometimes overhaul, their QA programmes. Some feel they have reached a plateau with their current setup and want to move up to the next level whilst others want to ensure they are best-in-class in their industry as this provides a competitive edge.

From an organisational mindset, where quality was previously seen as a functional need (regulatory requirement /check the box / nice to have / useful info) we are seeing a growing need to drive back real time insight into the business which in turn enables them to make better decisions – and faster.

The most effective programmes can cover all levels of your insight: from regulatory to business and customer critical as well as ad-hoc tactical requirements whilst your business evolves.

Show Me The Value!
Over the years at BPA Quality we have witnessed a real evolution working with organisations right across the customer experience space in the UK, EMEA, US and globally, in their approach to their quality function and what place this holds in their growth strategies.

For a Quality Programme to positively drive business success, your whole organisation needs to truly understand how much each function can gain from a world class Quality Programme. To be truly effective it requires the right level of commitment, resourcing, engagement, process and procedures and technology.

This will then add value to your customers, team members and business as a whole and how your measure this value is key. Tangible value as ‘measured improvements’ now spans right across the organisational spectrum and is going way beyond the traditional QA measures.

The benefits can truly be transformational as the actionable insight produced by the Quality programme when fed back into the business will drive data based decisions not only in your Ops, Training, Development and HR Teams but also Client Management, Legal, Compliance, Marketing and Product Development.

Key success factors to this is setting out the right metrics and methods right at the project outset. We see the critical importance of this when we onboard new Client programmes and we workshop the chosen goals as part of our project scoping from our 50+ bank of business impacting measures.

Highly agile and dynamic people and technology setups are critical to adapt to the evolving demands of your business and produce fully reliable data where there many moving parts.

As the saying goes “In the Lord we trust, for every thing else – we want to see the data”.


TRENDS FOR THE FUTURE OF LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT by Yvette Renda, Director of People Development

As a trainer at BPA Quality, I like to keep on top of current thinking in my area, and so it was with interest that I read a report recently released by the Brandon Hall Group – a think tank specializing in theories of workforce management practice*.

The report highlighted that – in today’s world – organizations that fail to adjust their learning management practices and solutions often struggle with organizational growth as well as productivity.

As a result, forward-thinking companies are abandoning traditional methods of learning in favor of more effective solutions that engage talent and improve performance. And although the report focuses on the use of new technology to improve training outcomes, I found that some of the non-technological aspects were also quite interesting. After all, not every organization can immediately re-purpose all aspects of training strategy, tactics and materials to take advantage of cutting edge technology.

In fact, the aspects of the report that I was most interested in highlighted key trends affecting the future of enterprise learning and recommendations for selecting the right provider.

A number of key findings of the report jumped out at me:

* One-third of companies are increasing their budget for learning and development

* 41 percent of companies describe their culture as “Controlling”

* 59 percent of companies are leveraging social learning activities

Source: Brandon Hall Group 2014 Learning and Development Benchmarking Study (n=569)

Prioritizing the Individual

It is true that finding and keeping talent is no longer an HR challenge but a strategic business priority. Yet, the authors of the report found that most companies were unable to build lasting relationships with their employees in an effort to overcome these challenges. Instead of giving employees the tools needed to succeed, many companies feel threatened by their workforce and fearful of change. In fact, when asked to define their company culture, 41 percent of employees described it as “controlling”.

I agree with the authors that, with the emergence of a younger generation and the rise of the independent worker, companies must rethink their approach to talent and begin to prioritize the “individual”. I’ve found in my own work at BPA Quality that provision of a ‘peer coach’ to help new trainees apply the skills they’ve acquired in the workplace setting allows for an individualized approach rather than a ‘one size fits all’ ‘controlling’ model.

However, in my own view, for many companies this updated learning and development process is long overdue. Indeed, research shows that more than 50 percent of companies have revisited their learning strategy less than two times over the last five years and learning has remained, for the most part, stagnant. But the good news is that one-third of companies are increasing their budget for learning and development over the next 12 months.

With nearly 50 percent of these companies currently spending $100 per learner per year, it makes sense to conclude that companies need to become more strategic about their training programs and the type of learning experience offered by training enablers.

My recommendations

Although training is one of the most mature areas of talent management, it is also one of the most innovative. Yet making a decision to improve a learning management program and invest in a learning management solution is often a daunting challenge.

Happily, the authors offer some considerations that can help with this which I would recommend from my own training experiences at BPA Quality:

* Considering Adaptive Learning. Adaptive learning is a methodology that allows employees to learn at their own pace. Employees can be monitored individually and in real time to determine what learning approach will best suit their needs.

At BPA Quality we utilize this approach as can be seen in the afore-mentioned example of the provision of a ‘peer coach’ for new trainees to try out their new skills in the actual work setting under the guidance of their personal ‘peer coach’.

Personally, I’ve found that the Adaptive Learning approach allows employees to build confidence and overall expertise at their own individualized pace – and that this has positive benefits for both efficiency and long-term employee engagement, increasing productivity (a key metric of the report).

* Aligning with Business Objectives. It goes without saying that any training program should drive retention, engagement, and performance aligned with the organization’s business objectives. The authors were able to demonstrate that for those companies that did align learning and business priorities (48 percent), more than 70 percent were able to improve company revenue.

I happen to strongly agree with this and apply it in my own work. When I’m conducting training at our client sites every BPA Quality workshop that I conduct is based around the input, and expertise of the participants – from agent to management level training – and therefore keeps my training relevant to the participants, client environment and business objectives.

* Measuring Effectiveness. To determine if the learning strategy in place is driving business outcomes, companies must find a way to consistently measure its effectiveness.

This makes good sense to me, and at BPA Quality all team members participate in regular quality calibrations to ensure accuracy and complete understanding of their objectives and how they align with clients’ business objectives.


Put the individual first. I totally agree that companies must shift the way they view employees and consider focusing on the individual and his or her unique learning needs. For some companies, this strategy may include aspects of adaptive learning; for other companies, it could mean a different communication strategy.

At BPA Quality we have always based our training around an Adaptive Learning approach, and in terms of other communication strategies I always keep an open mind. The changing dynamics of our marketplace demand no less.

*[Brandon Hall Group is an independent HCM research and advisory services firm that provides insights on Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition, and Human Resources.]

Customer Service Lessons from an Airport Beer

Originally posted on BPA QUALITY: Expert Series By The Professor:

In my work with bpaquality.com, I get to travel quite a bit spreading the good word about contact center quality. For every awesome place I get to visit, it is always counterbalanced by those places where I wake up in the hotel room and can’t remember where I am. My fellow travelers likely have plenty of similar war stories to share in that line of thought, but one common theme has come up recently with my traveling companions…

Why are airport beers better than any other beers?

Now, while this may not stack up against the great mysteries of the world, it is a question that we pondered the application in our world of contact center quality. What lessons could airport beers teach us about contact center quality?

It’s New and Often Your First Taste of a Brand – Everywhere I go, I try whatever local microbrew is offered in…

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Can the Greatest Rock Songs Ever Teach Us About Customer Experience?

Originally posted on BPA QUALITY: Expert Series By The Professor:

In a typical down time office scenario, idle chat lead to a discussion about the greatest rock songs of all time. The debate raged on, some offering classics such as “Stairway to Heaven,” By Led Zeppelin or “Under Pressure,” by David Bowie. Some threw in modern songs by Pearl Jam and Nirvana, while others chose to go classic and stick with mega bands such as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. While we never solved the debate and selected a consensus top five songs, one thing was clear…there was something about all these songs that made them great and we could learn something from them in our world at bpaquality.com of contact center quality.

What about the greatest rock songs ever can relate to contact center quality and your customer experience…let’s let rock and roll show the way:

Be Genuine…but understand your audience – When Billy Joel wrote, “Piano Man,”…

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Call MOT (USA = Car Inspection)

“Your call may be recorded for training and quality purposes” ­– almost every IVR these days plays this message but do you ever wonder what happens to your call if it’s the one that is selected?

Organizations have various approaches to using call information to improve customer service and enhance agents’ performance. As an example, here at BPA we work with lots of International companies to help them in maximizing the impact of this vital information.

So what happens? Well, some of these calls are directed to us, at BPA, many of them pretty quickly. The recorded call journey is ready to begin.

The first stage, at BPA, resembles slightly a service station (or garage, as we often prefer to say). Our highly trained call analysts will pick up a call and carefully listen to it – like a car mechanic will pick up a car, indulging themselves in its motor’s sound and diagnostics.

The analysis begins. The MOT list contains lots of boxes that will be ticked (or not), based on the outcome of the check. Nothing can be omitted, everything has to be scrutinized. If needed, the car will be dismantled, repaired and put back together again.

The driver and the passengers’ safety on the road will hugely depend on this. The “finished product” will only then be returned to its legitimate owner.

Our Quality Analyst’s list (or as we prefer to call it – evaluation form) is equally long and detailed. The call will be listened to, every area of the call will be analyzed and assessed accordingly. If needed, the call will be “dismantled”: paused, replayed, re-listened and evaluated according to the very high and specific pre-set criteria. The feedback will be entered, both good and bad (we’d rather call it “positive” and “constructive”); comments will be added, valuable insight will be gained.

The call centre and company’s success in their market will hugely depend on this feedback and insight. It is vital that the feedback is checked and calibrated before the “finished product” is returned to the center that undertook the original transaction.

Next, the owner (our client) will soon coach the call assistant of the “dismantled call” on specific areas to improve their performance.

These days, cars are sophisticated and service stations will often specialize in looking after one particular make only. There may be little point taking your Vauxhall into Citroen’s garage. If you want to maximize performance, you go to the experts.

When it comes to call analysis, compliance and insight – we at BPA are specialists.

We don’t pick up just any call – we specialize.

Each team is professionally and highly trained to work for an assigned Client. But that’s not all. Clients may need to address particular aspects of monitoring in more detail, each of them requiring further level of specialization – we offer it; our projects are multiple.

Many of our Clients are global, with call centers all over the world, speaking multiple languages – that’s not a problem for us, either. With a great range of native speakers from each part of the world, we simply can do it!

How do we do it? – Well, that’s another story.



By Ewa Murphy_July 2015






Is Service a priority in your Quality Program?

I get tIMG_0271o help with quality dilemmas every day.  I field questions about how agents can better connect with customers, deliver service excellence, and show they care.  Leaders tell me “I want the customer to feel like we are on their side and that we are listening to them.” There is no doubt in today’s highly competitive market that great customer service is king.   Why is it so difficult to achieve?

Here are three areas to check to help determine if service excellence is a priority in your quality program:

The Evaluation Form:  Generally 90% of evaluation forms measure agent’s adherence to processes, knowledge of systems, and ability to locate resolutions.  It’s not uncommon to see one, maybe two questions that measure how well the agent serve the customer.  This sends a clear message to agents about what is most important, and of course agents are going to focus on processes and systems.  While it is vital your teams provide resolutions and fix problems, it’s how the agent does it that really matters to the customer.  How many questions on your evaluation form focus on connecting with and listening to the customer?

Training:  When new employees join your organization, what percentage of the training is focused on delivering customer service? We often see the same percentage when we look at the how agents are trained to perform their job, with 90% of the training focused on how to utilize systems, understand the processes, and document accounts. All of these areas are important for an agent to effectively do what the customer needs, but it sends a clear message about the priorities and that service is a nice afterthought.  How much of your training, new hire and ongoing, reinforces delivering service and showing customers you care?

Objectivity:  Agents and customers both despise scripting.  You hire smart people who are more than capable of talking with customers, and customers can tell they are being read a script in the first three words – so don’t do it!  Objectively measure behaviors that are service driven.  Leave out opinion based words such as ‘friendly,’ ‘nice,’ and ‘pleasant.’  Yes you can objectively measure service skills!  Do questions about how the agent connected with the customer objectively measure the behaviors you want demonstrated on every call?

BPA Quality has more than 25 years of experience in human behavior research and we are experts at how to optimize your service delivery, whether in person or over the phone. If you have challenges in these areas, definitely give us a call or Email me for a complimentary, 30 minute review of your evaluation form.

Stephanie Taylor has more than twenty years’ experience helping organizations deliver great service.  Formerly a client of BPA Quality, she has worked with this great company for six years and is Director of Client Services for North America. She can be reached at Stephanie.Taylor@BPAQuality.com 

UK Contact Centre Leaders Share Their View on Quality

What is Quality in a Contact Centre context?

According to Wikipedia the definition for quality in business “has a pragmatic interpretation as the non-inferiority or superiority of something; it is also defined as fitness for purpose.

Quality is a perceptual, conditional, and somewhat subjective attribute and may be understood differently by different people.”

With that in mind I decided to contact four of the eminent commentators and experts in our industry for their views and to pose one simple question……..

What does ‘Quality’ mean for you in the Contact Centre Industry?



Martin Hill Wilson

Service, Customer Experience & Digital Business Strategist – Author, Keynote Speaking & Masterclasses



A water company I have recently been working with produced the following working defintion of quality, which I would not disagree with:

“Culture of care which delivers what matters; when it matters to our customers. Reflecting each moment of truth and recognising quality isn’t absolute but is relative to each customer journey.”




Ann-Marie Stagg

Chief Executive of Call Centre Management Association (UK)




“Quality means never having to say sorry – know the customer and their history with your organisation, deliver the service that the customer expects and then repeat the experience every time they contact you using whatever channel they choose.”




Rob Wilkinson

Award Winning Call Centre Leader | Trainer | Recruiter | Blogger & Speaker




It’s so easy to over engineer this and so many contact centres make things more complicated than they need to be, often focussing on what they think their customers want instead of what they know their customers want.

For me its best kept simple because that means it’s easier for our agents to understand, easier to measure and easier to improve.

Poor quality = not delivering. Good quality = delivering. Great quality = exceeding.

This makes the first step to improving quality easy too = learn what your customers expect from you.  This applies to any industry & product, both sales & service.



Andrew Mutch

Chief Customer Officer UK & EMEA at BPA Quality with over 30 years Conatct Centre experience



“Quality underpins everything, from identifying customer expectations and having a culture and processes in place that ensure that these expectations are met and exceeded, to constantly strive for continuous improvement and evolution”   


In Summary

Wikipedia stated that quality in business is a subjective attribute understood differently by different people, the views of these four key people in the contact centre industry both confirms the validity of that statement but also highlights that for each person there is a common theme.

For all quality is about consistently delivering against your customer’s expectations and for that to happen the processes in place have to be rigorously applied.

It is reassuring to know that in an ever competitive and challenging industry quality delivery remains key to the ongoing success and development of our industry to meet ever growing demands of clients and customers.


By:  Martin Teasdale, Quality Solutions Director ( UK & EMEA ) at BPA Quality UK

“When is my next coaching session?”

Effective coaching is at the heart of what we do here at BPA, it is a key part of our daily life. It is a process that enables our Independent Quality Evaluators (IQEs) to learn and develop, to improve their performance, to simply achieve their full potential. Our unique coaching process also ensures that our Clients’ needs are not only met but also regularly exceeded.

So why is our coaching so effective?

Coaching at BPA is not regarded as a task to be completed but as a way to really enhance performance and development within the team, it really is in our DNA! It is performed on a regular basis, individually with each member of our project team and is regarded as the number one priority for our Team Managers. Under ‘coaching’ in this instance I don’t mean Corporate or Executive Coaching; I refer here to the coaching sessions that are part of our project monitoring and development.

This is the coaching process where the coaches are the direct Team Managers who therefore know very well their team members, their daily job routines and the project challenges they face. The Team Managers have an insight into their team members’ individual needs, strengths and weaknesses, and finally – or most importantly – into their unique personality.

This close relationship ensures that the exploration of team member’s needs, desires, skills and motivations takes a very detailed and personalised approach. We don’t deliver a general programme or group-tailored advice. We explore, on a one-to-one basis, the entire performance process. Through detailed and joint analysis of multiple calibration sessions and quality assurance checks, we identify and discuss the areas of strength, as well as scope for development. Yes, both – not only the aspects in need of further development.

We believe that identifying your strengths is a key part of the success – if you realise how you came to be successful in one area, you already have a great tool in hand to be used to achieve the same success elsewhere. It’s not about telling the team members where they are underachieving or pinpointing their weaknesses – this can only result in an opposite and unsolicited effect. It’s about making the team members aware of how good and successful they already are and encourage them to use the same technique in other areas that can be developed and soon become equally successful. It’s also about sharing this experience, ideas and insight with others. It’s about setting specific and measurable goals, for an agreed period of time. The goal is being closely monitored and revisited by the set up deadline. Upon successful completion another new goal is set up, if more work is required, the goal will be repeated.

The key is analysing, feedback, practice, repeat. To take a sporting context, the more you practise, the easier the activity becomes, you become more skilled, more experienced and you are able to recognise what you are doing that is having a positive and negative impact on your performance. The focus is on repeating the positives and using this experience to overcome the negatives. Success doesn’t occur instantly, it’s achieved through strenuous and systematic repetition and training, as you strive to achieve your goal. As the golfer Ben Hogan said, “The more I practise, the luckier I get”.

Our journey through the coaching process is not that distant from this picture and it is a journey that certainly pays off. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, it also gives our IQEs an overview of their individual ‘status-quo’, the much needed guidance and reassurance of how important and valued their daily jobs are.

To show how much our coaching sessions matter to our evaluators, our success in embedding a coaching culture and their hunger for feedback there is a mantra across the BPA teams:

“When is my next coaching session?”


Ewa 3   By Ewa Murphy, June 2015