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Essential Principles of Quality Management


Measuring quality is paramount to the success of the contact center. As more businesses provide digital services, many consumers interact only with contact center agents and, therefore, prioritize a seamless digital experience. What that means for your contact center is ensuring quality has never been more important for retaining happy customers.

That’s why leaders need to consider essential principles of quality management (QM) to ensure their contact center can continually rise to customer expectations, create consistent and predictable results, support and empower agents and instill improvement initiatives that benefit the entire team. Dive deeper into how these core principles of QM are used in the contact center and why they are crucial to sustained success.

Quality Management in the Contact Center

It’s worth noting that industries have different requirements to track and maintain quality control. These protocols ensure their products and services meet acceptable standards and customer expectations. Quality management in the contact center uses a call center software that allows organizations to track, analyze and improve agent performance and customer integrations with several effective metrics.

Organizations with a strong customer focus need dedicated individuals and teams to concentrate solely on continual improvement activities that drive greater value in contact centers. Establishing quality principles helps facilitate this process approach by getting the entire team onboard with wins and areas of improvement.

What Are Key Principles of Quality Management in Contact Centers?

There are four principles that can greatly impact QM in contact centers, such as:

  • Vision
  • Transparency
  • Analytics
  • Engagement

Let’s expand on these principles to see how they can be applied.

Principles of quality management.

Set a Clear Vision

A lack of vision within contact centers can cause widescale problems. In cloud-based contact centers, focusing on agents is critical and aligning quality programs with the company’s vision and objectives is paramount for reaching quality management success.

Quality is not a static process in modern contact centers. It should always evolve, led by a strong governance framework built around collaboration. Leadership should set clear strategic objectives so that managers can build and coordinate the process as well as govern audits. Then, the frontline team can apply these strategies, conduct evaluations, increase coaching and use modules to build collaboration.

What to Do

To create a clear vision, leadership should try the following process approach:

  • Develop a reputation for driving results and connecting successes to tangible KPIs
  • Have a clear, unified mission
  • Drive governance, aim for excellence and meet regularly to ensure it
  • Hold yourself and others accountable for continuous improvement

Build Transparency into Your Program

The last thing any organization needs is for quality management programs to be deemed irrelevant. If agents think that QM programs are measuring unimportant metrics or skills, then there will be a major disconnect and possible tension among your staff. An “us vs. them” mentality can then breed a lack of partnership or feeling of respect within the team.

Building transparency into your contact center can empower agents by making them feel involved in impactful, day-to-day processes. A great way to do so is through performance coaching. These one-on-one training sessions allow agents to strengthen their skills, achieve professional goals and get real-time guidance. Getting everyone involved with decision-making process can also help build trust throughout the contact center while aligning your staff to critical objectives.

What to Do

Some great ways to increase transparency within a contact center include:

  • Holding regular calibration sessions to dispute processes in a fair, unbiased way
  • Sharing the decision-making process by explaining definitions and problem-solving solutions
  • Building trust among staff at ALL levels in discussions and decisions
Data analytics.

Make an Impact with Analytics

Great quality programs in call centers identify specific areas of improvement for each agent. That’s why it’s vital to create a performance coaching plan that uses advanced analytics to provide clear examples of how to reduce low metric areas. If you aren’t investing in contact center technology that captures key metrics from customer interactions, how will you know which direction to take with your performance coaching?

Omnichannel agent interactions bring unique challenges since voice is still captured and tracked more than email, text, and chat. Adding advanced, machine-learning data analytics to your software can help identify issues, create predictive models and correctly score all customer interactions. Using artificial intelligence resources can offer a clear understanding of what is going on within call centers so companies can adapt to meet rising customer expectations.

These actions create a strong customer focus plan that align with organizational QM principles. Using data analytics, contact centers can greatly increase the number of integrations evaluated (>90%). This quality management system lets analysts know which contacts should have priority so leadership can spend more time on what matters: coaching and training.

What to Do

Adding analytic capabilities to your contact center QM program can be transformational. Here are several ways to do so:

  • Get buy-in to define behaviors, align criteria and demonstrate its value
  • See analytics-powered quality from the omnichannel, customer perspective
  • Use metrics to pinpoint key performance coaching areas
  • Set automation to avoid cherry-picking and create consistency with customer focus

Engage the Frontline

Part of keeping your frontline engaged involves rallying agents around the process. If there is no performance coaching or leadership training, they may feel like there’s no room for growth in the company. Contact center agents who can see a future and pathway to higher levels of success are more motivated and engaged than those who can’t. This is the key to successful contact centers.

Leaders should examine how they are measuring the effectiveness of their coaching within contact centers. Are they correlating KPIs to the number of coaching sessions that happen? A great way to reflect on this is by getting people involved with focus groups. Frontline staff can only improve if they know which areas need continual improvement. Provide them with KPIs and customer data, then show them how the metrics correlate.

This is where analytics can really help self-assessments, which empowers agents to reflect on their work, how they handled customer inquiries and how to identify areas that need ongoing focus. For example, a self-assessment could help pinpoint top risks that are causing repeat calls.

A challenge currently plaguing call centers is how to keep an engaged workforce regardless of location. Virtual contact centers have been on the rise, so it’s essential to find ways to adapt to this ever-changing workplace. Adding QM tools is a great way to monitor agent and contact center performance.

Some ideas to engage and manage remote workers include:

  • Add gamification for friendly competition
  • Use post-call surveys to assess agent and call quality and get direct customer input
  • Create dashboards and reports for supervisors and agents to track performance
  • Customize evaluations to provide agents with feedback
  • Keep agents engaged by assigning them training calls to review

What to Do

There are lots of ways to get the frontline engaged and connected. Here are a few:

  • Create focus groups to get feedback on processes
  • Involve agents in calibration
  • Use a closed-loop coaching process that includes trends, recommended remediation and accountability for action
  • Measure agent impact and coaching KPIs
  • Communicate often by celebrating successes, sharing best practices and using mentors
  • Encourage self-evaluation

Quality Management Principles in Practice

Implementing a quality management system approach can help pinpoint issues before they become pervasive problems. Since there are 8,760 hours in a year, the average customer will spend 6 – 23 minutes of that year interacting with an organization’s contact center. That’s a short amount of time to create a positive, lasting impression.

Since 91% of consumers say they’d stop working with a business after just one poor experience, it’s more important than ever to apply quality protocols to help exceed customer expectations. Using essential quality management principles can help exceed consumer expectations.

Some of the benefits of using QM metrics in a call center include:

  • Increased customer engagement
  • Better understanding of agent interactions
  • Improved customer service
  • More agent training opportunities
  • Improved employee experiences
  • Greater workforce engagement

Key Business Processes Used to Quantify Customer Satisfaction

Quantifying quality is generally done through tracking specific metrics with a strong customer focus. The most commonly used ones include:

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

CSAT is collected via a survey after an interaction with a customer service representative.

First Contact Resolution

This metric is used to quantify how many interactions were resolved in a single interaction, and it is seen as crucial in driving greater quality.

Contact Quality

Contact quality is referred to as the evaluation of an interaction by management. This is where quality management software really shines.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS measures the likelihood of a customer recommending your business through referrals. A low score will show “detractors” – folks who go out of their way to share their negative experiences. A mid-range score represents neutral customers. A high NPS is ideal. Customers in this range are “promoters” who go out of their way to talk positively about your organization.

Average Handle Time (AHT) & Average Speed of Answer (ASA)

Both AHT and ASA help increase quality by measuring how quickly a phone call is answered and how long it takes to resolve a customer inquiry. Learn more about how average handle time is calculated in contact centers.

Quality Management.

Closing Thoughts on Quality Management Principles

There is a new paradigm in the contact center. Many years ago, contact centers used to be considered a necessary evil to an organization that saw them as a costly need rather than what it can be today: a value add. Today, organizations can capitalize on a strong, unified contact center that shines by properly resolving customer interactions.

Focusing on implementing essential principles of quality management will help organizations drive greater NPS / CSAT scores, since customers who get their issue resolved quickly are much more likely to be a promoter of a business. Customers who promote your business to others because of a great experience are crucial to generating further business without incurring additional marketing costs. Keep in mind that the window of opportunity is short and every interaction should be treated with the utmost care.

These key results can only be achieved by having a thorough process in place for monitoring quality in your organization, relying on a mix of software and skill sets to deliver desired outcomes that will turn your contact center from good to world class. Learn more about improving the quality management within your contact center.

Jen Docken, Calabrio’s QM Product Marketing Manager.
Jennifer Docken joined Calabrio’s product marketing team as the QM Product Marketing Manager in 2021. As an experienced B2B marketer she brings with her 10+ years of marketing experience across multiple industries. She is innovated minded with a strong drive to understand customer constraints and how to break down barriers. She strives to better understand the pressures put on the modern Contact Center and how to drive customer satisfaction and agent engagement.
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