In my blog post last week, “Is Your Call Quality Sheet Capping Your Net Promoter Score?”, I wrote about how the typical call center call quality sheet encourages mediocre call quality and a lackluster customer experience. This is because the typical call center call quality process is anchored in the customer service agent’s compliance with a one-size-fits-all checklist rather than in the creation of an optimal customer experience with customer loyalty as the targeted outcome.
Checklist Compliance vs. Customer Experience Performance
The typical call quality sheet includes questions like these:
- Did the customer service agent say “thank you for calling”?
- Did the customer service agent mention the company name?
- Did the customer service agent mention his or her name?
- Did the customer service agent verify customer’s name?
- Did the customer service agent verify the customer’s account number?
- Did the customer service agent offer assistance to the caller?
These kinds of questions focus on what the customer service agent says or doesn’t say, and what he does or doesn’t do. Evaluation for quality assurance personnel and supervisors is relatively easy – the customer service agent either complies or he does not comply. For some questions, there may be several degrees of compliance, and the customer service agent is assigned a score.
Either way, call quality sheets structured in this manner do not measure or assess how the customer experience is shaped or impacted by the customer service agent’s words, actions, attitudes and behaviors during the interaction.
This creates situations in which a completed call quality sheet reflects 100% compliance by the customer service agent, but the quality of the interaction from a customer experience standpoint is average at best. Average customer interactions generally do not produce the kind of Net Promoter Score survey results that translate to high Net Promoter Scores.
During the due diligence phase of call center customer experience performance initiatives, I routinely listen to recorded interactions that score well, sometimes perfectly, on the call center’s call quality sheet but earn unremarkable Net Promoter Score survey results (for example, a 6 or 7 on the NPS 10-point scale) and miss the mark entirely in terms of customer experience and loyalty generation.
This reminds me of the joke about the surgeon who emerges from the operating room declaring the surgery a success because he completed everything on his checklist … never mind the fact that the patient died.
Designing the Customer-Centric Call Quality Sheet
A customer-centric call quality sheet employs an approach that evaluates customer service agent performance on the basis of whether particular customer experience outcomes have been achieved rather than on whether a laundry list of customer service agent inputs have been deployed.
The kinds of questions you will see in a customer-centric, outcome-based call quality sheet are:
- Did the customer service agent answer the call with enthusiasm and energy?
- Did the customer service agent use a proper greeting? [If different greetings are equally effective, why must one greeting be prescribed for all customer service agents and all interactions? Allow great personalities to come out. Script only if necessary on an individual agent basis. Most customer service agents will arrive at a very suitable and welcoming greeting that is comfortable and natural.]
- Did the customer service agent listen for a clear, complete understanding of the reason the customer is calling?
- Did the customer service agent understand the customer’s practical need and demonstrate that understanding to the customer?
- Did the customer service agent identify the customer’s emotional need related to the practical need and demonstrate that understanding to the customer?
- Did the customer service agent refer to how the issue will be answered or resolved with low effort on the part of the customer?
These kinds of questions require a different mindset for supervisors, customer service agents and quality assurance personnel and facilitate a different discussion for assessing results, addressing gaps in customer experience performance and targeting areas for improvement.
Customer–centric quality assessment of any particular customer interaction means focusing on whether the customer service agent has created the optimal outcome for that interaction.
- Was the desired outcome achieved? If not, why not?
- How did the customer service agent guide the interaction toward the desired outcome?
- What did she do well?
- What did she not do so well?
- What could she have done better?
- What are the two or three specific things the customer service agent needs to focus on to close gaps?
As you might expect, a customer-centric call quality sheet and call quality process require enhanced supervisory assessment and coaching skills. Supervisors, team leaders and call quality personnel have to listen for meaning and impact rather than focus on whether the customer service agent “said [x word] or [y phrase] during the call” purely for the sake of checking boxes on the call quality sheet.
Coaching for improvement needs to be immediate, regular, consistent, engaging and positive. Role playing during coaching sessions can be a very effective tool for customer service agents to practice implementing new skills, especially when the role play is based on one of the agent’s actual, recent customer interactions.
The outcome-based call quality sheet is designed just as much to facilitate agent performance improvement for future customer interactions as it is to grade performance for past customer interactions.
I have found that when it comes to designing and implementing the optimal call quality sheet and quality assessment process, a prudent investment of time and effort on the front end will produce valuable and lasting dividends where it counts the most – superior call quality, an optimal customer experience and higher Net Promoter Scores.