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

 

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

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

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 

Are you winning the Customer Experience World Cup?

As in all team sports, players either all win or all lose. The same goes for any call center …

While watching the 2015 Women’s Soccer World Cup, USA and Australia were battling to edge ahead in the dreaded D group. Most people believe that having a superior offense wins championships in soccer. Although the USA team put goals on the board, there were countless saves by the defense, especially by goalie, Hope Solo.

How does this relate to a call center, you may ask? Well, in a call center there are many departments that handle every aspect of the customer experience. If the sales department did a fantastic job taking care of the customer, but then punts the customer to the mediocre service department, then the company may just lose the “game.”

Every touch a call center has on the customer reflects the overall customer experience. So, how can a contact center calibrate across all channels of service? Well, let’s talk a bit more about soccer, or as my team in the BPA Quality UK Research Center  would refer to as FOOTBALL!

Field of Play

By understanding the entire process from first touch to goal, call center agents can provide the customer with a play-by-play report.  The customer is never left wondering what happens next.  If you know the game and the role you play within the team, then it will be effortless to win.

Assist

A team is only as good as the sum of its parts.  Call center agents need great leaders that provide them with meaningful coaching and knowledge, so they can achieve the goal (providing memorable customer service).  Also considering outside experts to evaluate agents with a customer-centric point-of-view can up the playing advantage.

Dribbling

In some circumstances, a customer may need a bit of “dribbling” or “hand holding,” and the call center must embrace that average handle time or other KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will be affected.  Understanding of those changes in agents’ quality scores can be circumstantial and provide leadership with a “shot on goal” in grasping the customer journey, effort and/or experience.

The dreaded offside

Working in and around call centers for the past nine years, I have actually witnessed leadership stepping over the line of defense to try and make that “easy” goal.  When that has happened, the customer, the agent and ultimately the company loses.  Play fair with customers and they will return and recommend the company to their friends and with agents because they are the first and only touch to the customer.  To win a customer does not mean they will be  one for life, it could only be for the moment.  Once they are lost, no telling how many more will be lost.

Shots on goal & GOAL!

Once the call center is working together to provide incredible customer service, then the “shots on goal” will increase and eventually the customer becomes not only loyal, but an advocate too.  GOAL!

When evaluating the call center, make sure to step back or have a third party  understand the “field of play” as the customer.  For example, as a fan of the USA women’s soccer team, it is much simpler for me to recognize why Abby Wambach missed last night’s header into the goal.  If she had my outside vantage point, she may have put a goal on the board.  Luckily for the USA Team,  she is a part of a capable, successful team to get the win for USA.

I’m willing to bet that #20 (Abby Wambach) and her team will review the recording of that missed header to evaluate how do to it better the next time.

As a call center team, are you ready for the customer experience “World Cup?”  If not, the competition is …

Go #USWNT & #USA!

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True Vision in Quality Monitoring

giovanniaguirre

The lesson we learn in business is that sometimes you need to think differently, take some risks and look at things from a different angle…and in this case, when you can’t even look. When listening is most important skill in your business, the best people who can do that are the ones that can only do that. What we will learn in this article is the process of adding to your staff with very capable visual impaired team members…the concept, the how to, the resources and the benefits.

BPA first started recruiting visually impaired staff members in 2006 after an internal brainstorming session on how to recruit candidates with greater listening skills. The initial conjecture was that a person who had lost one of their senses would heighten their remaining ones in order to help them during their daily lives. With this perspective in mind, it was our hope that…

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How is a Call Center like the Super Bowl?

Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling and Language in Call Centers

Grammar and language is changing and evolving due to the impact of social media.  Trying to fit thoughts into text messages and 140 characters on Twitter can be mind boggling.  As Quality experts, we are asked a lot about if agPunctuation-matters-tooents can utilize abbreviations and “text talk” in customer interactions via chat, email, social media, etc.

There is a very fine line in regard to what is acceptable and just plain negligent on a company’s part.  There are still many consumers that judge grammatical and spelling mistakes harshly.  As a rule of thumb, when it comes to the brand, all “t’s” should be crossed and all “i’s” should be dotted.  By doing so, agents are protecting the brand’s credibility and representing it appropriately.

Proper grammar and spelling should have been grasped in primary school and with the internet available to almost everyone, there should be no reason interactions with customers should not contain the correct usage of language.

According to 1,003 UK consumers, 42.5% hated poor spelling and grammar when it came to brands on Social Media.  That is a significant percentage and warrants attention when ensuring call center agents are representing their company.

Hate-about-your-brand

Mistakes can be forgiven; however, making them continually can be detrimental to the company and the brand.  Ultimately, encourage call center agents to use proper spelling, grammar and speech to demonstrate that the company cares about their credibility and image to the customer  … and that says a lot.

 

Sources:

http://shehemedia.com/2014/08/28/do-spelling-and-grammar-matter-in-social-media/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/07/15/is-bad-grammar-killing-your-brand/2/

 

14 Quality Quotes for Call Center Managers & Agents

shutterstock_155754371 1.  “Quality is the best business plan.” ~ Jahn Lasseter, PIXAR

2.  “Be a yardstick of Quality.” ~ Steve Jobs, Apple

3.  “Quality is not an act.  It is a habit.”  ~ Aristotle

4.  “When you’re out of Quality, you’re out of business.” ~ Anon

5.  “Our innovation makes us first, our Quality makes us last.” ~ Scott Adams, US Cartoonist

6.  “We have two ears and one mouth, so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” ~ Epictetus

7.  “Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” ~ Gucci Family Slogan

8.  “It is easier to do a job right, then to explain why you didn’t.” ~ Martin Van Buren

9.  “Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence — only in constant improvement and constant change.” ~ Tom Peters

10.  “If you build a great experience, customers tell each other about that.  Word of mouth is very powerful.” ~ Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com

11.  “Customer satisfaction is worthless.  Customer loyalty is priceless.”  ~ Jeffrey Gitomer

12.  “If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.” ~ Jan Carlzon, ex-CEO SAP Group

13.  “In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.” ~ Doug Warner

14.  “Why wait to be memorable?” ~ Tony Robbins

Your Call Is Important to Us by ellen

It doesn’t always feel like customer helplines offer, well, help. Ellen talked about it with her audience.

via Your Call Is Important to Us.