Once considered just a basic business tool, the term quality assurance now pertains to much more than a simple service observe function and the subsequent post mortem analysis of call agent behaviors. To compete in today’s harsh economic climate, modern contact centers are equipping themselves with third generation quality assurance applications that allow for performance compliance control. These applications tie performance of the call center to the overall business issues. Given the objectives to improve the quality of service provided by an organization to its customers through its agents, the quality of the call center can’t be differentiated and managed separately from that of the rest of the organization.
A Front-Line Communications Hub
Up until a few years ago, the contact center was an overlooked and relatively untapped source of business intelligence. But advances in digital recording technologies and business analytics applications have enabled virtually every division of the enterprise to beneﬁt from the vast store of valuable information gathered by this front-line communications hub. For example, marketing departments can now gain extensive feedback on speciﬁc campaigns, the performance of individual products, and customers’ attitudes towards competitors’ brands. For the HR department, contact center interactions are an essential tool for conﬂict or complaint resolution, disciplinary action or training programs modiﬁcation, and improvement of scripts for recruiting and interviewing. At the boardroom level, reports formulated from intelligence gathered from the contact center can assist in strategic decision-making – from organizational positioning to resource allocation.
Third-generation quality assurance applications bear little resemblance to the basic quality monitoring tools of a few years ago. These powerful technologies have redeﬁned the very meaning of the word “quality” in the contact center. In addition to monitoring agent performance, the process of reviewing calls can now yield valuable insights and intelligence. From a store of hundreds of thousands of recordings, these applications can deliver recordings of a speciﬁc nature, so that the interactions reviewed are not just random. For example, instead of performing QA on 25 random calls from one group of agents, a manager can review 25 of the group’s calls that pertain to a speciﬁc marketing campaign or new product. In addition to reviewing the agents’ performance, valuable customer feedback can be passed along to the appropriate departments.
From the narrow perspective of agent training and coaching, modern QA solutions offer automated capabilities that reach far beyond the walls of the contact center. In addition to enabling contact center managers to deliver multimedia training to agent desktops on a schedule- or rules-driven basis, track evaluation results over time, and quickly identify training weaknesses and ﬂaws and implement prompt remedial measures, the new eLearning and analytics applications enable management to gauge the effectiveness of sales and service tools, such as scripting, training, calling lists, etc.
From Actionable Intelligence to Acted Upon Intelligence
Some of today’s quality management solutions can offer the most complete picture of contact center performance (individual, group, and overall) and instant comparative analysis for more accurate, comprehensive information – enabling management to increase agent performance, decrease agent attrition, boost customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and raise revenue. From global enterprises to mid-sized contact centers, some of the latest business analytics applications can collect data and present real-time and historical performance information to agents, managers and executives within the call center environment. Key performance indicators, quality scores, scheduling information and service level indicators can be distributed to call center personnel using desktop dashboards, Web-based consolidated reporting, and TV monitor display systems.
A superior analytics solution can monitor both telephony and business metrics in real-time – providing the tools to leverage that data not only into actionable business intelligence, but also into Acted Upon Intelligence, and dramatically enhance contact center performance. For example, by using an analytics application, a marketing executive can be automatically alerted to the fact that a speciﬁc campaign is resulting in an above-average number of sales. The executive can drill down to the individual agent/customer calls that have resulted in a sale and discover what the customer is responding to and why. This information can be used to strengthen and focus future campaigns, thus increasing revenue through highly successful, efﬁcient marketing efforts.
Speech mining and analytics applications have also played a huge role in revolutionizing quality in the contact center. Call mining tools enable organizations to understand what customers want, and how their agents are responding to customers. Speech recognition technologies listen to all call center conversations and keep track of what is being said, allowing call centers to mine conversations and quickly identify call trends that until now were too costly and time consuming to uncover. In addition to automating scoring and call classiﬁcation, an advanced speech analytics technology can identify the topics within each call and across a body of calls. Automated call scoring systems run in the background alongside recording equipment and automatically generate reports for quality monitoring, agent evaluations, or customer satisfaction surveys. Call classiﬁcation can save management an enormous amount of labor since more than half of the manually processed calls are typically not relevant to the topic of interest. Speech analytics tools enable management to reduce labor costs, maintain proﬁts from loyal customers through better retention efforts, and reduce business risk associated with liability claims. For example, contact center labor costs could be cut by reducing the manual call listening associated with quality and agent monitoring.
Patrick Botz is global director of marketing for Camarillo, CA-based Voice Print International, a provider of interactions recording and workforce optimization solutions for contact centers.