I scored a lot of calls today and it was really satisfying. The calls were fantastic. I mean, these calls were really World-class. I began working with this client years ago. They had no quality program in place. They had never monitored a call or coached their agents on service quality. Actually, when we began they could be described as decent. You might have said that they were very good – above average, even. That’s the thing. It’s one thing to help a customer service team who knows they’re bad. I think it’s a tougher job to take a team who’s doing well and motivate them to excellence.
This team is a good study in some of the keys to developing a consistent, world-class delivery:
- A management team that’s committed for the long-haul. This team had the same manager for several years. He was committed to developing a culture of quality and had the support of his superiors. No matter how much the front-line railed against the program or how wishy-washy the front-line supervisors may have been at times, the consistent message and commitment to quality has always been there.
- Outlast the critics. The QA program has not always been popular among the ranks. As is true whenever you start a quality program, there are plenty of crusty veterans who have been used to having the free-reign to do and say whatever they desire. Over the years, the nay-sayers on this team were quietly faced with three choices: get on board, retire or find another job. There are few of them left.
- Set a high expectation for new hires. This team has had turnover – like all call centers. This team implemented a new hire orientation training in which it’s clearly communicated that quality service and exemplary phone skills are mandatory.
- Individual accountability. The program for this client began by measuring and reporting team-based results. This was great to get the process started and to get front-line buy-in. You can only get so far with team-based reporting, however. This team let their program evolve until every team member received regular, individual feedback. Their QA scores are now a significant part of their annual performance review.
- Have fun rewarding performance. Through the years, this team has done a mixture of incentives. One year there were quarterly team rewards like going bowling for an hour at the end of the work day, taking a limo out for ice cream or having lunch in the board room. One popular incentive cost almost nothing – it allowed agents to throw a pie in their supervisor’s face. Another year, each agent who achieved a certain quality score got his/her name in a drawing for a major prize (like, $1500 nice). Perhaps the most motivating reward I’ve witnessed, however, comes from this team’s senior manager. He sends an e-mail or voice mail to every agent who achieves World-class QA scores and thanks them for their efforts.
I hate to think how many thousand phone calls I’ve scored from this team over the years. But listening to their calls today and hearing the difference…it feels pretty good.