More 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.
June 20, 2016
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:
- Make it clear and to the point
- Integrate supervisors and managers into the process
- Clearly define the program for the agents
- 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.
- Define goal: Map your QA process to business goals
- 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
- Remove the perception of QA evaluation as being a punitive process
- 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
- Progressive businesses are moving on from tick box, features and benefits format to customer engagement / active listening, matching and outcomes
- 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
- Business Intelligence Team uses the data gathered through quality process for providing the business with performance insight & predictive analytics
- QA should inform product and product governance: Undertake product reviews / what do customers like, dislike
- 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
- Red flag process vigorously enforced
- Senior Executives need visibility: Customer experience, product / marketing / managing risk
- Build processes and systems to share information across the business: Share Voice of the Customer feedback with other departments
- Hold regular round tables with Product, Marketing, Sales: highlight trends, risks, feedback
- Influence the organization: don’t operate in a silo
- Include agents and team leads in the calibration process
- Calibrate based on expertise, not deviation from average or arbitrary targets
- Use Calibrations to refine QA forms and remove ambiguity
- Look to your teams to identify and share anecdotal feedback: sometimes it is OK to work in the grey
- Keep your QA forms fresh and relevant
- Deep-dive analysis of the data to identify trends, insight and areas that require greater focus
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.
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.]
“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
I get to 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
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?”
By Ewa Murphy, June 2015
70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. – McKinsey
According to the book, Leading on the Edge of Chaos, if companies reduced their customer defection rate by 5%, then profitability would increase by 25 – 125%. Many companies believe that their current quality of service is best-in-class; however, only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their needs (Forbes).
Capturing the voice of the customer (VOC) can be tricky when companies listen to customer-agent interactions with their “corporate” headphones. In this blog, I hope to leave you with 5 ways to capture the true VOC and consistently meet your customers’ needs.
- Have an unbiased HUMAN listen/read customer interactions with your customer service/sales/tech agents. Best scenario is to utilize a 3rd party Quality company or, if that isn’t possible, have the Quality Assurance team at a different location from the call center.
- Breakdown each piece on the scorecard into distinct measures. Have a Quality ruler to ensure that all scoring is fair and done properly.
- Calibrate, calibrate, calibrate. Having everyone on the same Quality page is crucial when it comes to your company’s brand and service. If supervisors are not coaching to what the agent is being scored on, then what really is the point of your Quality program?
- Coach based on trends, not just individual calls. Utilize reporting to demonstrate best-in-class service and share amongst all service groups, so that the entire company is winning and so are your customers.
- When listening to customer interactions, capture as much business intelligence as you can. Don’t get stuck on just the measures on the scorecard. Listen for additional ways to best service the customer and trends affecting your business.
When I was working in an outbound call center, I would listen to calls when I wasn’t putting out a fire on the floor. At the time, I was Manager, Supervisor, Quality Assurance, Coach and Trainer. Call centers are different now with the access to new tools and dynamics. One thing that remains is that customers have even more choices with just a click of their mouse. Your call center doesn’t have to be stuck on auto-pilot of how it has always been done when it comes to quality interactions with customers. Listen to your calls by using the services available to you today. Use a third party that are quality experts to listen for the VOC because they are truly unbiased, transparent, objective and listening from the customers’ point of view.
Remember, if your customers are not being treated well by your agents, you better believe that your competitor will accept them with open arms.