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

 

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

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

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

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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