This post was originally published on lessonly.com.
As a Customer Experience Manager, I spend my time supporting our customers so they can train and support their customers. The teams I work with range from two people to over 2,000 people. As you can imagine, these teams require drastically different tools because their scale is so different. But, there are two common factors for all of the teams I support, regardless of size. One of them is the use of our learning management system. The second is a person, or oftentimes a team of people, dedicated to quality assurance.
Quality assurance (QA) is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a program for the systematic monitoring and evaluation of the various aspects of a project, service, or facility to ensure that standards of quality are being met.” Basically, it’s a metric to measure how wow-ed customers are by an experience or interaction with your company.
QA is essential in call centers. QA team members identify gaps in knowledge or skill where agents need to be retrained. If even one agent isn’t updated with the most current information, the whole team risks customer satisfaction (CSAT), which could mean losing a customer over an unpleasant experience with an agent. Which is not the goal.
The issues a QA team identifies are critical to the success of the business. However, as you can tell by the definition above, quality assurance is transactional in nature. Someone or something is underperforming, and it needs to be corrected. What’s missing here is an empathetic approach and opportunity for growth in these situations. There is no call center training manual for the world of quality assurance.
The best sales teams have a sales enablement team supporting them in their ongoing skill development. But on the support side of the house, depending on the size of the team, there usually isn’t a team of people thinking about those “level up” opportunities for service agents. If there is a team thinking about these opportunities, there are likely a hundred other business priorities pulling them in different directions.
But think about all of the missed learning opportunities come from lack of QA. If we can start to weave enablement into service teams and everyday meetings, we turn negative situations into positive growth. And it saves time and money.
How might this enablement change call center employee expectations? They get to make mistakes and know it’s going to be okay because someone will be there to enable them if and when mistakes happen.
For example, let’s say an agent struggles to find the information they need quickly, and their call handle times are too long. A normal solution would be for a manager to show an agent exactly where to find the information they need in the knowledge base and learning would stop there.
But if enablement is woven into that agent’s daily life, a manager could dig deeper to understand why the knowledge base is so hard to navigate, what additional information the agent would find helpful to have in the knowledge base, and iterate on the call center training modules from there. It allows agents to be heard and have a voice in their basic call center training.
Carving out time for QA and enablement in a call center also opens the door for transparency. The relationships between agents and managers thrive when QA works in tandem with service and support teams. If managers can show through training how they have their team’s best interest at heart, the agents will put in the time and effort to build that relationship and grow it over time. Reducing employee turnover is critical in the long-term success of a call center, and strengthening these relationships every day is a key component of employee retention.
Prioritizing enablement also changes how a customer service team views the QA team. For a team that spends their time finding the problems in the everyday workflow, it’s not a good feeling to have that team call you into their office. It can hurt morale. If we can turn these pinpointed optimizations into larger enablement campaigns, we get to flip QA into the positive enablement that it can be. And that’s a big deal.
Call centers aren’t what they used to be. Metrics like call handle time, time-to-resolution, and time-to-first response are still important, but metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) are pulling away with the lead. The customer experience and how customers feel after a call are the top priorities. Will they recommend your service to a friend? Will they be a return customer? It’s these outcomes that you’re really training your agents for.
Quality assurance teams enable call center leaders to ask themselves: “How can I improve call center customer service?” and “How can I enable my agents to be a better call center agent?” To be honest, these answers vary for everyone. That’s what I love most about my job! Everyone has their own call center training techniques. Everyone has their own call center tips for beginners. Everyone has their own call center identity. The more we humanize call centers and build quality assurance strategies, the better we can all serve our customers. At the end of the day, that is our top priority.