Where Quality is Everything
Around the globe, contact centers have long faced a difficult challenge. They inhabit the front lines of customer service for myriad industries, a crucial role that can make or break a business. Yet, they continue to face one of the most daunting employee retention struggles in any industry. For contact centers, quality is everything. Agents must deal directly with customers who are sometimes unhappy or even angry and must somehow turn each interaction into a positive experience. It’s difficult and often thankless work, and even those who excel at it are likely to seek different employment.
As a result, the churn rate for contact centers is around 50% and may go as high as 80% in some industries. That’s a terrible place for any enterprise to be. Businesses have little choice but to rely upon customer service, which is often an organization’s weak point.
Not only can weak customer service harm an organization, but it also harms consumer confidence as well. Forbes recently conducted a study that showed a quarter of American audiences would rather shave their heads than contact customer service.
Fortunately, there are measures a business can take to improve job satisfaction and employee retention, starting with automating quality assurance processes.
Automated quality assurance offers some very substantial benefits for businesses that operate contact centers, and this article will address the five most important ones.
#1: Time Savings
As a contact center scales up in size, the ability to perform manual quality assurance checks decreases dramatically. That’s because a contact center supervisor must split their time among several agents.
Typically, supervisors perform spot checks on agents by listening in on ongoing calls to make sure the agent is performing well, and the customer is being properly treated. As more agents are added to a supervisor’s responsibility, they simply have less time to listen in before moving on to other agents.
This scenario makes it almost impossible for contact centers to grow without incurring a greater expense.
#2: Manual QA is Expensive
To provide QA oversight for a contact center, a business may adopt the fairly common ratio of 1 supervisor for every 10 agents. This allows each agent to be actively supervised just 10% of the time.
Of course, supervisors need to be more extensively trained and are most commonly paid more than the agents under their supervision. Since supervisors can only contribute oversight to the customer service effort (they can’t take calls themselves without surrendering supervision time), there is little to offset their labor costs. And, unfortunately, businesses aren’t really able to choose how much customer service they need.
If an enterprise under-invests in customer service, the result is poor customer service. Customers are likely to experience frustrating wait times before speaking with an agent, making the conversation itself much more difficult for the agent to manage well and turn into a positive customer experience. So the number of agents a call center needs is partly determined by its volume of customer calls.
Generally, businesses address this with hard math. What is the lowest number of agents and supervisors they can get away with before the damage to their brand becomes prohibitive? As stated above, this is a terrible place for any enterprise to be.
#3: Poor Manual Agent Oversight
As you can imagine, this puts businesses at odds with their own contact center goals. To minimize costs, businesses try to do more with less, even though it may negatively impact consumer perceptions of their brand. Supervisors are given more responsibilities, and agents are pressured to perform better while receiving less oversight and guidance.
What happens is that agents are only supervised a small percentage of the time. Larger contact centers may only be able to spot-check 1-2% of calls and review as few as 2-4 calls per agent per month. Agents are left to perform largely unsupervised, which allows them to develop bad habits that can grow into problems. And since there is a shortage of supervisors to oversee their work, agents are only likely to be scrutinized when problems arise.
While the lack of oversight can be dangerous for a business’ customer experience, it is even more problematic for its labor costs. Agents that receive only negative feedback for their work are far more likely to experience poor job satisfaction, which usually leads to poor performance and, ultimately – attrition.
When contact centers lose agents to attrition, they also lose the cost of hiring and training those agents. Replacing them requires time and training, so high attrition rates inevitably represent a significant loss of capital as well as a reduction in the quality of customer service itself.
#4: Automated QA is More Fair
As described above, when supervision is stretched tight, agents are often only scrutinized when problems arise – even if they are not to blame.
Imagine having to manage a customer who was already upset about having to call customer service to begin with, and is even more furious after having to wait a long time before speaking to an agent. Even if the agent tries their best, they are still likely to fail in their effort to turn the encounter positive for the customer.
This may be just one call out of hundreds, but it is likely to become a large part of the agent’s performance review, nonetheless. Without additional data to show how well an agent is performing overall, the supervisory perspective of the agent’s performance becomes unfavorable.
Further, the little oversight the agent DOES receive is likely to come from multiple supervisors – whoever happens to be on duty at the time. Different supervisors will inevitably have different standards of performance. And since supervisors are under pressure to maximize their agents’ performance, each is likely to be critical in their own way.
Automation eliminates this issue. An automated QA process can evaluate ALL of an agent’s work and utilize the exact same performance benchmarks for everyone.
This can instantly improve employee morale and productivity by making agents feel supported, rather than persecuted.
For example, through CallCabinet’s automated QA process, an enterprise can establish its own KPIs and evaluate every agent’s performance against the same set of standards. Supervisors can easily determine where agents need improvement, but they can also see where their performance is ideal, providing positive feedback as well.
#5: A Complete Picture
The most significant feat automated QA accomplishes is total oversight. Instead of listening in on 1-2% of calls, your enterprise can effectively review and evaluate 100% of them. And you can do it without having to add more supervisors.
For example, CallCabinet’s automated QA oversight is accomplished in the background by artificial intelligence (AI) software. Our AI-driven conversation analytics system breaks down every call by speaker. It can record video or capture a series of synchronized screenshots that reveal exactly what an agent is looking at during a call. It can also evaluate call sentiment, and see how a customer’s emotions change over the course of each call.
This remarkable degree of scrutiny occurs with every call. So, while any call can still be accessed and examined forensically by supervisors, it no longer must fall to chance whether a problematic call is found, or whether an agent’s work is properly evaluated.
Automation allows for a complete picture to be captured for every call, even when your contact center engages in thousands of calls per day. The data that is gathered and analyzed can provide a wealth of information, not just about agent performance but also about your customers.
For example, an enterprise can use sentiment analysis to isolate calls where customers are happy, angry, or confused. This information can then be used to help improve the overall customer experience. Conversation analytics can reveal what customers want, helping companies better identify products or features to add, or what kind of competitive advantages they may have over other brands. What begins as automation for quality assurance quickly becomes business intelligence, adding value for the enterprise while simultaneously cutting the costs of replacing and retraining agents lost to attrition.
Automating your contact center’s QA processes in this way changes the scenario entirely. An enterprise is no longer at odds with its own mission because costs are mitigated and even recouped in the value of added business intelligence and improved employee retention. Automated QA allows an enterprise to better focus on quality and improve its customer experience along with the bottom line.
For more information on CallCabinet’s conversation analytics and quality assurance processes, visit our website.