A funny thing happened on the way to my contact center career. Before I started working in the field, I always thought my personal customer service calls were being “recorded for quality” to ensure there wasn’t static or poor reception on the line.
Turns out I was way off.
Quality management is the process by which an organization measures the impact, efficiency, and consistency of service being provided to its customers.
Monitoring and measuring quality is a strategic workforce engagement process that takes place within contact centers. But the evaluations, scores, and KPI goals are not the heart of quality management. It’s the people.
There’s never been a better time to re-evaluate how you engage those people central to your quality management process: your agents.
Why it’s time to step up agent engagement in the quality process
Right now, the world feels like it’s been turned upside down in a matter of months. But because 2020 has been so turbulent, it’s also been a reminder for us to stay attuned to the virtues and values of empathy, service, fairness, and equality in our work lives - from how we interact with our customers, to how we treat our agents.
Now’s the time to step back and look at how you involve agents in your contact center quality management. Ensuring that they have a stake in the process—and engaging them in your quality process from the ground up—is a huge motivating factor that will help your agents (and your contact center) excel.
Let’s not forget that so many contact center agents are working remotely across the globe right now. Working from home has its challenges. Managing the quality across a virtual team is a big one.
How do you keep agents satisfied in their remote roles? How do you keep them happy, productive, and focused on developing their skills in a virtual environment? Engaging them in the quality management process from day one is key.
Quality evaluations are one way to help remote contact center agents feel connected to the process and see the value they bring to the business—even from afar. Once they see more value in the quality process, agents won’t see it as a “digital big brother” looking over their virtual shoulder, waiting to flag their next wrong move. Rather, they’ll understand that quality management is a guiding, supportive strategy, built to help them excel in their roles and achieve their own development goals.
And meeting or exceeding their personal goals in a way that benefits the strategic vision of the company? That’s a huge motivator for all contact center agents, actually—not just those working remotely. (Check out the chart below for more on this.)
Agent engagement proof points
Sure, engaging your agents in the quality management process sounds nice. But it’s not always going to be easy, especially if they haven’t been involved much in the planning before. There may be some aversion to change along the way from business leadership, too.
But if you want some inspiration to help you get over the speed bumps, here’s some statistical proof of just how critical agent engagement is to the quality of customer experience—and ultimately to your organization’s bottom line.
- According to Ventana research, 78% of organizations say that it’s very important to improve an agent’s performance in handling customer interactions—with 86% of those organizations indicating that the main driver is to improve the customer experience.
- McKinsey reports that engaged, satisfied contact center agents are 3.3x more likely to feel extremely empowered to resolve customer issues.
- ICMI research on the state of agent experience in today’s contact centers shows that “having an impact on an organization’s goals” is the no. 2 motivator for agents, second only to “helping customers.” And together, the alignment of the agent’s role, responsibilities, and performance with overall business goals is the no.1 contributor to high engagement levels within the contact center.
Ask questions about the state of your current quality program
You can’t fix what you don’t know. One of the best qualities in a leader is the ability to learn from others.
So, before you take your entire quality management program to the shop for an overhaul, ask yourself the following questions. They will help you make informed decisions on how to navigate the changes you’d like to implement:
- What do you think your agent perception of quality management is today?
- How much of a voice do your agents have in the quality management process?
- Do they get handed a score and sent on their way—or is there an opportunity for dialogue?
- How much do your agents really know about your quality management process?
- Do your agents see evaluators as impersonal performance reviewers—or as peers who they know, trust, and respect?
How to engage agents in quality management
Bottom-up form design
You know who can help guide you? You guessed it – agents! Agents can provide a lot of valuable input on the types of questions you should include in your quality management evaluation forms, (and the questions you should toss). After all, they are the employees who interact most closely with customers day to day.
Your agents have a wealth of knowledge about how you can tweak form questions to capture a more accurate reflection of agent performance and service delivery. Agents are perhaps the best resources you can use to understand what a fair representation of positive customer experience looks like at your organization.
Put agents in the driver’s seat
You know the old saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes – it’s the best way to understand another person’s perspective. Give agents the ability to complete self-assessments if you’re not doing so already. It will give them a different perspective on the quality management process.
Agents can look at their performance more objectively, and better understand the evaluator’s intentions. Give agents time to reflect on each interaction to see where they excelled and where they can improve. You’ll be surprised how beneficial this practice can be for the health of your team.
Self-evaluations aren’t the only ways to put agents in the driver’s seat.
Collaborative evaluations, in which the agent and the evaluator/manager both assess the same interaction side-by-side for comparison, are a great way to open dialogue.
Peer evaluations are another great option. They foster a sense of teamwork and unity in quality management.
Being open to change
None of the above measures will help you reap benefits in your contact center unless you continue to remain open to agents’ suggestions and feedback, and consistently act on it.
The quickest way to sabotage agent engagement is to ignore the opinions or recommendations of agents. Be sure you have a protocol for updating agents on the ways you’ve valued their input—and acted on it.
Today’s analytics-powered quality management tools make it easy for you to implement changes to your quality management forms, evaluation criteria, and more on the fly. This is for critical for staying receptive to agent feedback and remaining flexible as business and contact center goals change.
Incentivizing quality is another great way to engage agents in the process. It communicates just how important quality is, and drives buy-in from your team.
If you have a monetized goal structure or program, make sure quality management goals are a part of it in some way, shape, or form. You’ll miss a huge opportunity to hit more KPI targets if you leave them out.
Last but not least: don’t forget about gamification! By gamifying quality management goals, you can further boost enthusiasm for the process as a whole. We’ve talked a lot about how practical gamification is right now for remote agents. It can do wonders for helping them feel connected to their work, including their quality contributions.
Quality management task force
Building a task force is another creative way to get agents involved in the quality management process, while providing them with leadership opportunities at the same time.
We’ve mentioned buy-in before. A task force is a fabulous way to cultivate buy-in across your team—and to create a collective voice that recommends changes when needed.
By including agent advocates—not just evaluators and supervisors—as members of the quality management task force, your entire pool of agents will feel represented in the process. As they see their peers contribute to the task force, other agents might be influenced to join or get involved in quality management from the ground up. They’ll be inspired to grab a seat at the table and take advantage of opportunities to excel in their roles and grow their careers. Perhaps a quality management position is the next step in their professional life!
Remember: Put people first in the process
A great customer experience doesn’t happen without satisfied, engaged agents. This is why you’ve got to put people at the heart of your quality management process—and involve agents in your quality strategy from the start.
To hear a real-world example of how one company embraced agent involvement in its own quality management program, check out our on-demand webinar with Brandon Wade, Telecommunications Manager at RentPath.