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

EES, ESAT, ENPS = CES, CSAT, NPS

Back from a couple of days at Customer Contact Expo, the self proclaimed “UK’s premier event for Customer contact solutions, workshops and connections”, where thousands of industry professionals gathered to hear about trends, see the latest technology and gain a vision of what the contact centres of the future will look like.

As anticipated there were lots of solution providers and discussions around the usual Contact Centre hot topics of Omni-Channel, process improvement and Customer Engagement with “Cloud Based” appearing to be the buzz phrase at the event.

What was refreshing to hear was the increased focus on two areas that I believe are vital to contact centres and business success; employee engagement and the increasing sphere of influence of quality in organisations.

Employee Engagement

In a highly interesting talk by David Macleod from the Employee Engagement Taskforce, the understanding, backed up by compelling evidence, that positively engaging your team can have dramatic impact on all of your business metrics was persuasively delivered. I encourage you to look at the Engaging for Success website where there are specific publications showing the weight of evidence of how positively engaging employees impacts profitability and service outcomes.

From personal experience, I have always believed that the engagement and development of team members with the same level of rigor used in measuring and managing customer engagement and experience can deliver exceptional dividends.

We are all aware of the drive towards reducing customer effort, satisfying customers and in encouraging customers to promote our products and services, indeed most businesses have robust processes for measuring these areas; CES, CSAT, NPS. Can the same be said for our employee practices?

Do we spend an equal amount of time tracking and measuring our employee effort, how easy it is to work for us, our employee satisfaction and our employee promotion scores, given the impact our people can have on our business and customers?

From a customer perspective, we measure the customer journey; from promotion to acquisition, utilization, satisfaction and retention, with teams looking at understanding and enhancing all touch points for consistency, simplification, cost optimisation and enhanced experience. We undertake detailed root cause analysis, process improvement, quality measurement and invest heavily in technology to ensure we are meeting business and customer needs.

In my opinion, a compelling case can be made for undertaking the same detailed approach to the employee journey from values, culture, skills, competencies, advertising, recruitment, on-boarding, induction, personal development, communication; in short all employee touch points. By identifying what excellence looks like in each of these areas, there can then be a drive and culture within the organisation for continuous improvement and enhancement.

With technology increasingly providing solutions for less complex interactions, the ability of our teams to handle higher value, more complex interactions across multiple channels will grow. Having a highly skilled and engaged workforce will enable us to better meet the future challenges, and is going to be an increasingly important area of focus in the Customer Service and the Contact Centre industry in the years ahead.

The second area; the increasing sphere of influence of quality in organisations, I will cover in my next article.

Written by:  Andrew Mutch, Chief Customer Officer,  BPA Quality UK Research Center

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

 

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?

martinhillwilson

 

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.”


 

annmariestagg

 

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.”


 

robwilkinson

 

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?”

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Ewa 3   By Ewa Murphy, June 2015

 

 

Encouraging Employee Engagement In Your Contact Centre.

My Blog

Encouraging Employee Engagement In Your Contact Centre.

The moment one of your team speaks, emails, tweets or web chats with a customer, your culture is present and displayed. Whatever the purpose or current situation in your contact centre without getting your culture right, you will never fully realise your potential regardless of your offering, technology or training.

Culture – everyone owns it!

Most organisations have aspirations around developing a high performance, high engagement culture across the business.

From a contact centre perspective it is vital that the overall business culture objective is clearly understood and that specific strategies are defined and delivered that ensure team member engagement, ownership and buy-in

In practice this means real involvement and engagement in the development process from the contact centre leaders and the wider team and critically an understanding that this is not just words but something that underpins the way of working across the…

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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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