Culture, Tone and Language Considerations in Quality Monitoring

culture-tone-and-language

Here at BPA Quality, one of the services we offer under the umbrella of managed quality services is to unde
rtake large-scale quality monitoring of text and voice interactions in multiple languages.

On some global, multi-lingual projects, the client expectation is that agent tone should remain consistent, regardless of the customer’s language or chosen contact channel.

It goes without saying that agents’ tone should also sound genuine in any language – so for global campaigns, it is important to accommodate for cultural differences. Avoiding the use of language-specific figures of speech as fillers rather than making meaningful statements, and having a sound understanding of culture-specific etiquette are both key elements for success in soft skills. A prime example: whereas US and European customers might expect agents to express empathy for their situation at the opening of the conversation, in some Asian cultures, displaying unsolicited empathy is not appropriate, and monitoring should take account of these differences.

When considering text-based contact, aside from an inherent difficulty in establishing tone in written communications, there can be further cultural implications to consider. For example, in many European languages, using the formal register has historically been the common way to address clients in customer service interactions; some companies are now making a conscious choice to use the informal register (e.g. ‘tu‘ rather than ‘vous‘ in French) which may not always be well-received by more traditionally-minded customers.

This informality in written communication may sometimes occur in contrast to the voice channel for the same company, leading to situations where agents may be required to address customers using the formal register in calls but not in chat.

This can potentially have implications for overall tone, which may be drawn into particular focus if customers make use of multi-channel contact and are left with different perceptions of the brand depending on the channel (which form of address is the one which is most ‘on-brand’ for any particular company…?)

It is reasonable to expect that customers will increasingly equate web chat with other more informal modes of text-based messaging, like IM and SMS, and so may expect their web chat dealings with companies to be conducted in a similar vein.

Even though web chat may generally be viewed as a more informal medium, best practice is still for the spelling / grammar and typography to be held to stringent standards – not least due to the ease with which these interactions can be copied by customers and find their way onto the wider internet, on blogs and message boards, when compared with calls. Indeed, some companies now routinely forward web chat transcripts to customers, so accuracy, tone and being ‘on-brand’ is paramount.

Ultimately, establishing appropriate tone for agents regardless of language and method of contact is best achieved by frequent calibration sessions, taking all of the above considerations into account. Calibrations should take place on a regular basis with key project stakeholders, ideally using sample interactions across all languages and channels in which the project is delivered.

With over 25 years’ experience in quality monitoring and with global clients, our multi-lingual team have the skills, expertise and experience to add this level of detail and insight to your customer service or sales programmes.

To explore more about the subject of this article or to discuss any element of quality monitoring please feel free to contact me or BPA Quality via our website: www.bpaquality.co.uk or www.bpaquality.com.

By:  Helen Beaumont Manahan, Project Implementation Manager at BPA Quality UK

 

Recognising the importance of the Human Element in Customer Interactions

Recognizing the importance of the Human Element in Customer Interactions

For over 25 years, BPA Quality has been working with some of the world’s biggest organisations with one aim: to improve customer experience and, through this, deliver increased sales, retention, loyalty, cost optimisation, compliance and profitability.

Our many valued clients have a common passion and commitment to create outstanding organisations and work in partnership with BPA Quality to achieve competitive advantage and deliver exceptional results. They understand the strategic importance of having a highly effective quality programme within their organisation.

As the sphere of influence and recognition of the importance of the Contact Centre and quality functions 42951 Human Element Article ­ Sphere of Influencegrow, covering all aspects of the business from Sales, Marketing, Product Design, Legal and Compliance to the Customer-Facing Operations, so the need to capitalise on this key resource becomes imperative.

Our many years of specialism in Contact Centre Quality Assurance places us in a highly informed position; we have listened to
millions of “human” customer
contact situations, covering almost every customer type, having every conceivable difficulty or requirement. We have also undertaken this
activity internationally, covering 45 languages, so we understand the differences between customer service expectations across multiple cultures.

All of this activity has enabled us to gain a detailed knowledge and view of the behaviours and processes that drive positive customer experience and engagement in Contact Centres and the development of effective quality and coaching programmes that enhance performance.

One of the key areas is a detailed understanding of the value and importance every customer interaction has in either positively or negatively impacting customer engagement with the organisation.

A great deal of focus in the Contact Centre quality programmes we encounter remains centred on scripting, process adherence, AHT reduction, risk avoidance, contact deflection and compliance, and not always on maximising the real opportunities presented in the Human Element of interactions.

Every conversation with a Customer is a lot more than just saying words and phrases – it’s an opportunity to make a real connection, to build the human element. As humans, unlike machines (chatbots), we have the ability to be creative, intuitive, show genuine empathy, feeling and understanding; to connect on a human level.

The human element in interactions provides great opportunities to:

  • Build and reinforce your brand
  • Build trust, credibility, and highlight competence
  • Personalise the interaction and foster mirrored relationships
  • Understand the reason for the interaction
  • Identify all elements of the contact
  • Build a relationship, show empathy, ownership and understanding; ensure the Customer feels like an individual, not a number
  • Paint a picture to show the Customer you are engaged
  • Offer flexible solutions
  • Negotiate suitable solutions, creating win/win situations
  • Build loyalty, retention, sales opportunities, advocacy, and increase first call resolution.

Every interaction, whatever the duration, represents an opportunity to discover valuable information about your Customers, identifying their challenges, wants and needs. This knowledge, once identified, can provide you with actionable insight and intelligence that can be used to guide the conversation and help build more effective human connections.

So in our rush to automate everything, push Customers online and reduce expensive human contact, we must not forget the value these interactions bring to our business. Significant focus should be placed on developing the effective skills, behaviours and coaching programmes designed to maximise this great benefit to our people and Customers.

by Andrew Mutch, Chief Customer Officer EMEA

Above the Clouds – with Yvette Renda

 

above the clouds

Jun30Travel is part of my job as a trainer with BPA Quality, and I’ve journeyed all over the place for many years. But don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with the clichés of the business traveller: upgrades, airline miles, hotel points, jet lag, ‘red eye’ flights, the psycho ADHD kid kicking the back of the seat….blah, blah, blah and yawn.

The truth is – at the end of a long assignment spent mostly on my feet – all I need from an airline is a flight that guarantees to get me where I most want to be (home!) in the quickest way possible. Luckily I’m quite small, so even the most meager economy seats can usually accommodate me without too much discomfort. That, and my ability to fall asleep the moment I hear a jet-engine start up, usually ensures a palliative experience.

Given all that, I’m sure you’ve realized that I’m not particularly tolerant of fellow travellers in adjacent seats who seem hell-bent on preventing me from gently snoring. And, my goodness, I’ve had experience of all of them on one flight or another: religious fanatics, power-salesmen, fantasists, hypochondriacs, phobic flyers, as well as common garden crazies…….you name it.

However, there are exceptions, and my companion on a flight back from Phoenix a few weeks ago was one of them. For a start he was reading a book. A real one…….without moving his lips. When was the last time anyone read a real book on a flight? Secondly, he was eating a bit of cake with frosting in a dainty napkin. “From my wife and daughter” he explained, showing me a little card that had ‘Daddy’ written on it in childish crayon, “It’s my birthday”.

Well, having demonstrated both his intelligence and humanity it was kind of easy to have a conversation, and naturally it turned to what we did for a living. It turns out that he’s a quality control scientist with a plastics engineering firm (I think that’s correct), so we weren’t able to get much further with that. But when he found out that I trained customer service agents, he was anxious to share some of his own experiences of ‘customer service’ with me.

Apparently he’d just tried to book an air miles flight with his preferred airline, and after a good start with (let’s call her) ‘Stacey’ he’d had a less than impressive follow-up call with (let’s call her) ‘Donna’. I’m not going to tell you how Stacey and Donna got the dates mixed up, and the consequences in terms of costs of upgrades/hotels/car hire and general inconvenience, because occasionally such things happen. And, as you know, it’s not always possible to get to the bottom of these matters and allocate blame like a teacher giving bad marks for wrong spellings.

Anyway, like most situations like this, the matter was resolved after a manager’s intervention and some intensity on the part of my new friend. No doubt, there were also a few ruffled feathers on the part of Stacey and Donna and the manager too.

No. What was interesting here was that this was a perfect example of how telephone language and tone – two things I teach as a trainer for BPA Quality – can immediately influence customer behavior.

So after listening to his long tale of woe I asked “At what point did you lose it? What was the final straw?”, and he told me it was when Donna had bluntly told him that “Stacey wouldn’t have told you that” as a firm rebuttal to something he said. To him it was tantamount to calling him a liar, and he had exploded with anger. Seeing my expressionless face he proceeded to add other crimes to Donna’s inadequacies up to that point: “She was dismissive”, “She didn’t give a XXXX” etc, etc.

Now, this situation was always likely to need a higher power to solve it (in this case Donna’s manager). But a great deal of unpleasantness and bad feeling could have been avoided if Donna had simply:

  1. Used less confrontational language
  2. Adopted a more personable ‘tonal’ demeanor

Donna probably didn’t even know what had caused the sudden outburst from the customer, and as a BPA Quality trainer I see this time and again.

Even when the language issue is staring training groups in the face they don’t always get it. For instance, I used Donna as an example recently, and found some quite sensible members of the group defending her choice of words as ‘not offensive’!

My approach here is to put the group in a hypothetical similar situation and ask them to rate the interaction using a scale from 1-10, negative to positive, and this usually works well in gaining consensus with a training group.

“So what would you have done?” asked my new friend. “Possibly the same as you” I reassured him. “My job is to prevent such scenes before they occur. I really can’t do much when they’ve already been provoked!”

By Yvette Renda, VP of Training Excellence at BPA Quality

Cost Centre or Profit Centre? When Quality Becomes an Agent for Change.

cost centre or profit centre bobba

Jun20More and more leaders in our industry are challenging their organisations to re-think their quality models and making Strategic Quality a foundation pillar within their growth plans.

Whilst the drivers vary across organisations, we are observing a tangible and growing interest in both understanding and leveraging end-to-end Quality.

When the focus changes from ‘box-ticking’ to ‘business intelligence,’ and the Quality Team’s insight and analysis is sought in order to form the basis of key decisions, which impact the whole business, the benefits are leveraged right across the board: from marketing to recruitment, compliance to customer advocacy, from employee engagement to process improvement, product design and more.

Of course, your Quality Team are eyewitnesses to your daily interactions with customers, but it’s how you harness and leverage this insight that provides opportunities for business transformation.

When you compare business endeavours to elite sports performance – marginal gains, outlier theories and so on – coupled with the vast amount of data now available, the difference between winning and losing is down to your ability to hand pick the correct nuggets of data in a timely manner and turn these into actionable goals and winning tactics.

In our experience working with Clients across the global spectrum, the consistent key success factors are:

  • Your Quality Team being – and being seen to be – truly independent and impartial
  • Highly calibrated outputs, credibility beyond question
  • An employee-centric model, built around engaging your people
  • Coaching that makes a real difference
  • The ability to deploy insight-gathering and report on it, in real time
  • A system which enables immediate action by the right people at the right time
  • All aspects of the programme being engineered towards your business strategic goals

Whether you have an established and mature Quality setup, or are pushing to move your business to the next level, engaging with the right specialist, independent and trusted Partner will provide you with game-changing bench strength.

Whilst most daily operational metrics give us visibility of how the business is running, how accurately can we measure our current cost of quality, and how clearly can we state what the ROI is on our spend?

Certainly in our experience, this is a tough question to answer for many. This can result from shared ownership, overlapping processes, specialisation and accountability challenges for outcomes as well as costs. All too often this can mean that Quality is perceived as a ‘sunk cost’ to be managed down, instead of a catalyst for business change.

Many of our conversations start from taking a fresh look and benchmarking with best-in-class models. Opportunities become apparent and whether they require a fundamental rethink or focused enhancements, the benefits are soon tangible.

At BPA Quality, we are privileged to be working with some of the world’s biggest brands and many long-term successes are founded on the use of Quality as a strategic driver to deliver higher returns.

BPA Quality is currently speaking to organisations across the UK, US and worldwide who are interested in exploring these themes. If you would like to take part, or share your views, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.

By:  Alex Bobba, BPA Quality EMEA’s Managing Director

June 20, 2016

Maximising the Effectiveness of Quality Scorecards

maximizing the effectiveness quality scorecards Teasdale

Here at BPA Quality we have over 25 years’ experience in providing expert quality monitoring services and consultancy for contact centres. Our clients are drawn from 100 different industries with the one common area being that they use contact centres to communicate with their customers. Being at the hub of all this combined experience and expertise means we are in the lucky position of seeing all elements of how through quality monitoring different companies attempt to implement exceptional customer experience.

Our experience and variety of client’s results in a unique BPA view on all things related to the delivery and achievement of quality monitoring.

Without selling the family heirlooms I have decided to write about the subjects we are asked about the most and share some thoughts.    

One of the main area’s we are asked about by clients and potential clients alike is; “what is the ideal scorecard.”

Regardless of the level of investment in quality in your contact centre you will invariably use a scorecard to identify problems, maintain quality standards, improve customer experience, and increase agent, centre and departmental performances.

Given the importance of scorecards, their creation and amendments should be considered and involve front line team members, managers, stakeholders, customers and, if possible,  industry experts.

Building a routine and process for regular reviews of your scorecard is crucial; scorecards in our experience have a habit of growing organically with areas added to reflect current needs, or latest trends. Over time, this can lead to scorecards that have duplicate areas measured or areas measured that are no longer relevant.

Scorecards should have measures that are aligned with your company view on how it should be delivering customer experience. It should also consider KPIsexternal benchmarking and also customer expectations.

Once you understand the measures and are confident they reflect your version of a quality interaction, you then need to give serious thought on how these interactions are then measured.  Include examples that demonstrate excellent, average and poor quality of the behaviour/activity being measured.

Ask yourself, “Can I develop an action plan from the results of the scorecard. Can I communicate the results to the agents effectively? Am I able to identify outstanding performance as well as areas for improvement?”

Whilst oversimplified, this view of the creation of scorecards provides ‘food for thought’ about some of the key considerations regarding scorecards.

For more detailed information regarding scorecards and how to maximise their effectiveness, please feel free to contact me.   

Written by:  Martin Teasdale, Quality Solutions Director – UK & EMEA

June 6, 2016

A Friend’s Advice for Surviving Reporting

Like most of New York right now, I am currently snowed in. While everyone is waiting for the next chapter of my Adventures in Speech Analytics series, I thought it would be nice to share some friendly advice for surviving reporting.  While I specialize in Speech Analytics, I feel a majority of these tips are useful for anyone involved in the world of report writing.

A friend’s job is to listen to you vent about your problems, be the voice of reason when you are about to make an unnecessary large purchase and give you advice that 75% of the time you will not bother to listen to. With that being said, I hope my friendly advice will fall into that 25% category.

Let’s start with:

  • Keep your data organized: There are 2 kinds of people- those who thrive in “organized chaos” and everyone else. If you spend enough time in Excel you may feel like you are buried beneath an avalanche of tables and charts. Label your columns clearly, color code cells and pivot your data when possible. If you have numbers all over the place you are making it more difficult by increasing your chances of having incorrect data. If you are tasked with a one-time report you need to give it the same respect you would to an ongoing report. You should be able to easily explain how the report works to others.
  • Embrace your other “friends” in Reporting: Thanks to major advancements in Speech Analytics technology, many SA applications offer beautiful and easy methods to use reporting tools that can be run within the application. There is more to Speech Analytics software than ad-hoc searches.  Don’t be afraid to tinker around and test the limits of what your software can do for you. Consider speaking with your SA software account manager to see how they can work with your SA program’s reporting needs- you would be surprised at how many options they have out there that could work perfectly for you.
  • Pivot! Pivot! Pivot! : Pivot tables and charts are one of my favorite ways to display data. They look sleek and are fairly easy to update. Also, get familiar with one of Pivot’s fancy accessories known as Slicers. I have found there are many people who are unfamiliar with them- FIX THAT. Slicers and Pivot go together like peanut butter and jelly- especially when you have many different categories of data you are reporting on. Slicers are one of the classiest ways to get your audience to interact and engage with the report you have worked so hard to put together.
  • Always Remember the KISS principle: KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple sweetie”. Make this your mantra each and every time you create a new report for someone. As I stated earlier you need to keep your data organized, but it is also very important to keep your data simple to read and maintain as well. Don’t make things more complicated as you already have PLENTY of things to worry about at work.
  • It’s OK to be a Work In Progress: One of my hobbies is drawing. I draw every day because my brain needs to be soothed with detailed strokes of a pen against paper. In art, the more you practice the better you become. I draw much differently today than I did as a child. Now think about the first report you ever built. It probably looked less sophisticated compared to what you can create now. Report writing is a necessary chore to deliver important information to others in an organized and digestible format. Take the time to look past the numbers and charts and look at your abilities to build reports as an art form. Take Excel refresher courses (Groupon offers various online programs at steep discounts.) Share your knowledge with others and be open to learning other people’s tricks of the trade. Always be open to some sort of learning even if you think you are one of the best of the best. Chances are there is always a little something left for you to learn.

Please feel free to share any advice you may have on how to survive reporting in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!

By:  Diana Aviles, Operations Manager, Speech Analytics at BPA Quality

3 Different Types of Quality Programs … Which is the best for your Customers?

Did you know that 76% of consumers that partook in the Aspect Consumer Experience Survey view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them?  How about, according to the 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report by Parature, 65% of the 1000 consumers surveyed said they would sever their relationship with a brand over a single poor customer experience?  So … how do you make sure that your agents are providing a fantastic customer experience every time they interact with customers?  One word … QUALITY!

A potent Quality program that provides objective and customer-concentric evaluations can make the difference in agents’ abilities to understand the optimum way to provide first-class customer service.  There are 3 main platforms of Quality:  Internal Quality Team, Outsourced (offshored) Quality Team and Pro-sourced Quality Team.  Choosing the right one depends on the business needs and goals.

If you are looking to have total control over the quality program and to have analysts available to answer calls during high call volume, then an internal team may be your choice.  From my many conversations with call center leaders, they have complained that quality wasn’t being done because the analysts were pulled to help manage call queues. Since evaluations were not being done, then the agents were not being provided proper coaching.  Also, from the same conversations, there is also a high probability of nepotism because quality teams were co-workers/friends with the agents.  Since the evaluations are more subjective then objective, opportunities are lost to assist agents to be best-in-class.

Outsource (offshoring) quality monitoring will definitely get audits completed, in a check box mentality.  Since this work is outsourced to different countries because of lower wages, cultural issues arise.  Customers from the USA are quite a contrast from those in India, South America and the Philippines.  The cultural difference can be one word or tone away from losing a customer.  A quality program should contribute insight to all your customers’ expectations and benefit call center managers with appropriate information to properly coach agents.

The last main platform, far from the least, is Pro-sourcing Quality.  Just like FedEx is an expert on getting packages from Point A to Point B on time, a Pro-sourced quality company are experts in quality.  Listening to calls for quality is not a skill that everyone possesses.  It takes expertise in listening and analyzing calls for hours.  Uncovering business intelligence to help a company reach their goals and needs are all part of a pro-sourcing relationship.  Since most pro-sourcing quality companies are located where your customers live, it is capable of understanding the culture and even regionalism of your customers.  In a pro-sourcing quality partnership, they work with you (the expert in your business) and couples it with unbiased, customer-centric analysis of how to increase customer experience and loyalty.

As mentioned before, choosing the correct quality platform that works for your call center needs and goals can be a daunting process.  According to a whitepaper by Craig Antonucci at BPA Quality, there are 4 factors that make a quality program successful:

  1. Make it clear and to the point
  2. Integrate supervisors and managers into the process
  3. Clearly define the program for the agents
  4. Make it consistent, fair, objective and accurate

I would add one more factor …

Be sure your quality analysts and program are experts in quality, and they can provide insightful knowledge on what is excellent customer service to YOUR customers.Call Monitoring 3rd Party

20 Call Center Quality Assurance Considerations – the Big Picture

41334_BPA Value icons

  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

 

TRENDS FOR THE FUTURE OF LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

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.

MY KEY TAKEAWAYS

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.]