Two of the metrics that are almost always at or near the top of the list of "most important" in a call center are Quality Assurance (QA) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores.
But how can you improve QA scores? And how can you improve CSAT?
3 common approaches to fixing QA and CSAT scores
When our team visits conferences such as ICMI, CCW, and local events like the Northeast Contact Center Forum, we see dozens of different approaches to improving these two metrics that focus in one of these three areas:
- Motivation (e.g. gamification),
- Improving retention of information (e.g. helping reps memorize more information with on-demand learning modules),
- Improving your reps' soft skills (e.g. coaching).
One overlooked option
But what often gets overlooked is a much simpler solution – creating resources that guide reps through calls.
If you can provide your call center reps with guides and protocol sheets that are complete and easy to use during a call, then your reps can improve their quality and serve the customer better without having to memorize everything. I'll explain...
Watch how better guides can improve QA and CSAT
The call flow, checklist, how-to, and notes that you saw in the video above were created using ScreenSteps. If you've been looking for a solution that will help you create better guides, then sign up for a free trial of ScreenSteps and give it a try!
What goes into a Quality Assurance (QA) score anyway?
While your QA guide/scorecard will surely differ from another call center's QA guide/scorecard, they all typically incorporate elements from these three main areas:
- Communication (e.g. agent used correct grammar/terms)
- Soft skills (e.g. agent acted professional, demonstrated active listening, empathy)
- Process (e.g. agent executed the correct process and resolved the call effectively)
Maybe yours also includes sections for compliance, taking ownership, or resolving the call, but for purposes of this article we're going to lump all of those under the three areas above.
How can I improve Quality Assurance (QA) scores?
The answer to this question stems from what you think the problem is. If your call center reps know what to do – i.e. they know how to show empathy, they know which terms should be used, and they know your processes like the back of their hands – but they're just not doing it, then a solution that focuses on motivation and incentives might be the best option (though you may want to look at your hiring practices as well 🤔).
If your reps are super smart and know all the correct things to say and they know the procedures in your company, but they're just really bad at people skills, then focusing on coaching their soft skills is probably what you should focus on.
Two areas where we see call centers struggling
The area we see a lot of call centers struggling, however, is that their reps don't always KNOW what to say or what to do. And that's why they're not doing it.
In this situation, the gaps are in the process and communication area. Solutions aimed at motivating (e.g. gamification) and coaching aren't going to be sufficient. Your reps can be as motivated as Tony Robbins and have the soft skills of a trained therapist, but they still won't be able to handle calls correctly because they won't know what to do.
While there will always be some call center reps who struggle with people skills, what we typically see is that for the most part, reps enjoy helping people and with a little coaching they can easily pick up the soft skills. What they usually lack is a knowledge of how to best handle a call (process) or the most appropriate thing to say (communication) per your company guidelines and procedures.
To address the process and communication gap, many call centers focus on training reps by having them memorize procedures and processes; however, from our experience (and the experience of hundreds of organizations we've spoken to), that is a mistake. Asking your call center reps to memorize your procedures is an impossible task. Not only are processes and procedures complex, but they are changing on a weekly basis!
Instead of trying to address the process gap by pushing memorization, we suggest creating guides that your reps can easily use during calls. The guides include:
- What to say
- What questions to ask
- Decision trees that modify the instructions based on the inputs from the caller or the rep
- What to do
- How to do it
Here's an example of a call flow created in ScreenSteps. This particular guide walks a rep through the process of rescheduling a patient:
Now, not every call is going to require a call flow guide that includes decision trees and all of the prompts for what to say. Sometimes your reps just need to reference a checklist, a how-to, or some notes. We recommend creating those types of guides as well so that your reps can quickly pull them up and use them during a call.
Reps get better when they have clear guidance on what to do
Studies have shown over and over again that when people have clear guidance on what to do, in the form of a checklist, a guide, or a map, their performance improves. Atul Gawande discusses this at length in his book "The Checklist Manifesto," as do Dan and Chip Heath in their book, "Switch: How to Change Things When Chang Is Hard." Better instructions improve performance.
We've also seen this in the businesses and call centers that have adopted the Zero Memorization approach to training that we encourage when customers use ScreenSteps. Employees, call center reps, customers – everybody does their job better when they can clearly see what needs to be done and how to do it.
What goes into Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)?
When customers are surveyed about what they want from call centers, the answers typically include:
- Problems solved quickly
- Good interaction with a skilled agent
There are several ways you can address the first option in your call center. You can create self-service options, use bots to answer common questions, use omni-channel, etc. I won't be discussing those in this particular article – but those can definitely be great options if that's what your customers are looking for.
For this article, I'm focusing on how to improve CSAT when callers interact with a rep. If you look at those two items combined, it's clear that customers want to speak with a skilled agent who can resolve their call quickly.
That means customers:
- Want to speak with somebody who knows what to say, what to ask, what to do, and how to do it
- Do not want to be put on hold for a long time while a rep is figuring it out or asking a supervisor for help
- Do not want to wait while their call is escalated to a more experienced agent who knows what they're doing
Gee...that sounds a lot like what we talked about in the QA section above. Which means that if your reps are hitting their quality measurements, customers should be having a good experience.
How can I improve CSAT?
When it comes to increasing a call center rep's ability, again many call centers rely on knowledge retention and build out training programs or purchase training systems that focus on helping reps memorize what to do.
I will say it again – memorization is NOT the answer.
If you want your reps to get better at following processes and communicating the correct information, then the answer is as simple as creating guides like call flows, checklists, how-tos, and notes that your reps can reference while handling a call.
With those kinds of resources, your reps can handle calls in a very skilled way without having to memorize everything. Not only is that more efficient for bringing on new reps (they can hop on calls as soon as they learn how to use your guides), but it's more efficient for a call center whose processes are changing on a weekly basis because you don't have to re-train and have everybody re-memorize what to do.
And, if your guides are easy to find, easy to use, and can help reps handle any direction a call may go in, then your reps will be able to handle the call quickly since they won't need to put callers on hold to figure out what to do nor will they need to escalate the call to somebody who is more knowledgeable.
In other words, well produced guides will empower your reps to handle calls in a skillful way and do it quickly. And improving those two things will give your customers exactly what they want when speaking to a rep and increase your CSAT scores.
Creating better guides is what ScreenSteps does
If you are interested in improving your call center's QA and CSAT scores, give ScreenSteps a try! We help call centers get the knowledge out of their expert's heads and into call flows, checklists, how-tos, and notes so that all of your reps can handle calls skillfully, efficiently, and professionally.