Starting a QA Program: A Brief Case Study

Bigstockphoto_business_woman_with_tMy team and I are call coaching this week with a client who operates two small call centers with 15-20 Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) in each. Two years ago they had no Quality Assessment (QA) program. They knew they needed to do something to improve their service delivery and customer satisfaction, but didn’t know where to start. They called our group and asked for help.

It’s an interesting case study.

We started with a team-based Service Quality Assessment (SQA). We developed a QA scale utilizing customer satisfaction research to help pinpoint key drivers of customer satisfaction which we then translated into specific, weighted behaviors on the scale. We captured a statistically meaningful sample of calls and analyzed them. The team’s average Overall Service score was 84 out of 100 on their SQA scale. We presented the report to the management team along with group training for the front-line CSRs.

The plan was to help the client develop their own internal QA team in the first year. Utlizing the data we’d already generated and the momentum we’d already gained from the pilot project, we were to teach a team of internal QA reps to analyze, calibrate and coach calls internally while we continued to provide team-based report cards on a quarterly basis. As the first year wore on it became clear that the client was not organized and ready to take on the QA function themselves, so we switched gears.

The second half of the year we provided an Individual Service Quality Assessment (ISQA) for each CSR. We sampled five calls a month for three months and gave them a third-quarter interim report along with a call coaching session based on 15 calls. At year-end we provided a full report on the thirty-call sample with a follow-up call coaching session.

After seven months of the on-going assessment and individual coaching, the average Overall Service score had risen from 84 to 89. That may not seem like a huge move of the needle, but it reflected a major cultural shift in the call centers and a solid, positve foundation on which the on-going QA program could be built. The stage was set.

This week we are presenting the third quarter’s worth of Individual Service Quality Assessment data. The CSRs are on-board and motivated to improve. Average Overall Service scores in the last quarter have improved to 93.4. We are witnessing ISQA scores above 95 for the first time. The client is finally ready to start training their people to do some of the QA work internally.

Most important, research reveals a solid improvement in Customer Satisfaction when they call. Customers have noticed the improvement and are reporting higher levels of satisfaction.

So, what are the implications from this brief case study?

  • A Quality Assessment program can be methodically and positively ramped up in a one to two year period so that it is set for long-term success while having immediate impact on service quality and customer satisfaction.
  • You don’t have to analyze and coach a huge number of calls to see positive improvements in service delivery and customer satisfaction. In this case, we sampled 10-15 calls a quarter and coached each CSR once a quarter. The result was a 10 point improvement in average Overall Service scores accompanied by an improvement in Customer Satisfaction.
  • You can experience improvement in service quality and customer satisfaction by having a third-party provide QA and call coaching. You don’t have to do it yourself.

The positives of using third-party to help you start a QA program:
1. You learn from those who have experience and expertise
2. You don’t risk as much in your own time, energy and resources
3. You can easily fire the third party if it isn’t working (not always true of hired FTEs)
4. You don’t depend on internal reps to get QA done when their plate is already full
5. Improved service and customer satisfaction for a reasonable investment
6. It gets done

If you’ve been wanting to start an internal quality monitoring process but haven’t been sure how to do it, please drop me an e-mail. We might be able to help. If we can’t, I’ll try to refer you to someone who can. Either way, you’ve got nothing to lose and the potential for quality gains.

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