Contact Center Quality Management Evolution

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Quality management systems have evolved over the years resulting in huge increases in the efficiency and effectiveness of monitoring and managing agent performance. That’s where the evolution seems to have stalled, with today’s quality management systems focusing more on individual agent performance than on overall business performance. A new concept of quality management is emerging. One that embeds the time-tested principles of the performance improvement process, and layers on top innovative analytics capabilities. This new approach aligns the efforts of the contact center with the strategic objectives of the business. As such, it presents an opportunity to transform quality management into a powerful business optimization solution.

Quality management first appeared about 200 years ago during the industrial revolution when a supervisor inspected the work of a laborer and decided to accept or reject their effort. In the 1960s the Japanese manufacturing sector refined the concept with the help of early quality pioneers such as Juran and Deming. A key notion they introduced was the quality process, a methodology that is really pretty intuitive, but very powerful when applied correctly—monitor performance, identify gaps, undertake corrective action and repeat. That process is still the underlying basis of today’s quality management efforts in the contact center. The enabling technology has changed substantially though, from the early days of side-by-side monitoring and paper evaluation forms. Tape recorders eventually replaced live monitoring, and spreadsheets were used to enter scores and produce reports. These first steps at automation made the quality management process more efficient and more useful to the business.

In the 1990s, automated quality management systems were introduced into the contact center market, significantly boosting evaluator productivity and focusing on the importance of individual agent performance. Since that time, there have been technical improvements in these systems—digital recording, online evaluation forms, Web-based access—but nothing really changed in how the quality process was targeted.