Quality Assurance (QA) has been an integral part of operations since the middle ages (really! Craft Guilds were responsible for assuring the standards of Blacksmiths and cobblers alike) and over the last couple of decades, it’s also fair to say that Customer Experience (CX) has made its mark. Thankfully the two are starting to more frequently come together…although, perhaps not frequently enough.
I was fortunate to see the magic of this combination when I led both the QA and CX departments for a large financial organisation, little did I know at the beginning of this journey that the intertwining of the two would lead to not only experiential changes but exceptional cultural growth.
Let’s take a look at QA for a moment, specifically in the form of the agent scorecard. QA in this capacity is the ‘maintenance of the desired customer service level of quality that your customer service representatives provide your customer, via the measurement of specifically chosen metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs).’
Typical scorecard measures might include:
- monitoring your agent's ability to follow policies and procedures
- reviewing how accurate their record-keeping is
- evaluating their ability to maintain control of the call and,
- industry dependant, their adherence to regulatory guidelines
These are all well and good, there’s a reason that policy and procedures exist so following them is important (to a degree!), accurate record-keeping is important (particularly to support the next agent interaction), and call control is important (otherwise Agent Andy may spend the morning in a friendly argument with Customer Craig over last nights match).
But this view of quality is a very internal view of what good looks like. From an operations perspective, accurate record-keeping and policy adherence means a job well done, but what about from a customer's perspective?
A customer just wants to reach their end goal in the smoothest way possible. Do they think about your organisational policies? No. Do they care about the agents' note-taking? No. Ultimately this all plays a part in creating a good customer experience but these are not what tangibly impacts the customer's perspective of that interaction.
So what does a quality service mean to your customer?
Your customer wants to get what they set out to (information or to complete a transaction), they normally want to do it pretty quickly, they definitely want the experience to be easy and the cherry on the top, they want it to be a pleasant interaction.
All of these heavily influencing customer experience factors can and should be intertwined into your agent scorecard. This could include a measure of how your agent welcomed the customer, how well they understood what the customer wanted and the agents' ability to show empathy to your customer.
The benefits of both perspectives
Combining an outside-in (customer) view to your internal perspective enables you quality assure the two core areas:
- - How well did your agent follow the process? and,
- - How good was the customer experience provided?
One significant benefit of explicitly including CX measures is the ‘permission to care’ that this gives your agents.
What do I mean, permission to care? We hire people that care, that will treat our customers as we too would hope to be treated right?
Of course. But, when you shroud your people in process, checklists, rules, targets and time constraints, these soon become what lead their actions, not the customer in front of them. By visibly showing that the customer is important, it gives your agent permission to put your customer first.
This holistic approach also enables you to not only see how well process is adhered to but also if it is still effective and fit for purpose. If your process (the checklists, the rules etc) aren’t conducive to your team being able to deliver a great customer experience then it’s a great signal that your processes need to evolve.
And crucially, this singular vision on quality also brings the value of customer experience very clearly to the forefront at a more strategic level. One of the largest challenges organisations face on their journey to enhanced customer-centricity is to create a customer-culture. By embedding a customer experience focus into your core service delivery you are demonstrating that CX is as valuable to operations as some of the more financially linked metrics such as length of call time.
Is it time to re-evaluate your quality assurance measures?