Managing quality during a crisis

14th Apr 2020

With the world in crisis-lockdown mode, workplaces are being transformed like never before and remote working is at an all-time high. For contact centres, agents are now speaking with customers from the comfort of their home-offices, sofas and dining room tables and the traditional customer service hub model has been disrupted.

The sticking point with this change in operations is for contact centres to ensure that their agents are still doing their work, and that customers are still receiving the quality of service they are usually offered. With everyone so dispersed – agent, managers and CEOs alike – a capable hand is needed to make sure goals are still being met and business remains as usual in these unprecedented times. This is where the quality team plays a vital role.

Framework: defining quality and improving perception

There are a multitude of negative rumours that surround the quality department, from whispers about their lack of understanding of roles, to personal vendettas against an agent, to the ‘quality police’ abusing the power they wield. Many people see the need for quality as a necessary evil.

Whilst quality teams might not understand every nuance of an agent’s day-to-day, when viewed positively and used effectively, they encourage processes that enable greater efficacy for agents to deliver a better customer experience.

The quality department – which generally includes assurance, control, and process & improvement – can help contact centres build the solid framework needed to make sure agents are working and delivering the customer service standard required, even during a global crisis. Covering everything from compliance to storyboarding a script, to taking charge of reporting and actionable insights, the quality department can be truly beneficial to every department

Of course, quality is inherently subjective and that can be one of the many reasons people will clash heads. There is no avoiding this human element, but having a framework in place to define things like company goals, agent skills elements and areas for improvement, will hopefully quell some of the pedants who can see that the quality department is there to improve matters for everyone.

There will inevitably always be a wary relationship between the quality team and everyone else, but a quality department that doesn’t let the power go to their heads, especially in these difficult times, and carefully define how their actions will help everyone, can be sure of a warmer reception.

Automation: enabling remote working

With working-from-home now more commonplace than ever before, and with staff management currently challenging as people take sick leave, having a robust quality department in place to enable business continuity is key. Not only can the quality team deliver a solid oversight and a programme to help operations run smoothly, but they can also introduce and deploy technology that enables even greater efficiency and productivity.

Automated technology – speech analytics in particular – is the quality department’s best friend. For starters, speech analytics can deliver 100% call sampling rate – this consistent monitoring gives a bigger picture of an agent’s skills as the technology can automatically check skills elements (e.g. compliance, core call components) and can show where improvements need to be made. With agents being supervised in this way as they work from home, the quality team can be sure they are being consistent in presenting the brand to the customer.

The technology also helps every member of the quality team to better understand what’s happening on the front line and therefore helps build a positive attitude towards the quality department. This allows for more innovation, and helps the quality department to track past trends and make predictions about call volumes for example, saving on time and costs and improving quality, sales, and the customer experience, especially pertinent in these trying times.

Indeed, a good automated quality programme is essential to maintaining business as usual with remote working and without sacrificing any part of the customer’s journey. With the knowledge of how agents are operating and where improvements need to be made, the quality team can ensure smooth operations continue.

Quality: changing things for the better

As divisive as it can be, there is no doubt that the value of quality in the contact centre is to help improve things for the future. When all’s said and done, the goal of quality assurance is to understand how trends are shaping the customer service, what impacts this has on business and where improvements can be made.

While companies will always have their detractors, quality teams that openly demonstrate how their work will drive enhancements in the customer journey, improve performance and help businesses achieve their overall goals, will be welcomed more warmly into the fold. Quality in the contact centre needs to be indispensable, and in these unusual times, having someone to watch your back, even virtually, is priceless.

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