The idea of failure is important in determining success, there has to be a line between an acceptable performance and an unacceptable performance that everyone understands. We all remember taking dreaded exams in school – as a result, no one likes to be told they have failed – it creates a sense of low self-worth, incompetence, and a lack of morale.
This still stands when applied to the contact centre.
Quality monitoring is an essential method when it comes to measuring individual and business-wide performance, but it has the ability to negatively impact agent morale, and the customer experience.
It’s quite often that due to quality monitoring process adherence agents can fail an entire customer interaction – even if the customer experience was not affected in the slightest. Agents understand that processes are important, but being told they have failed after what could have been an otherwise exemplary call can have a massively negative impact on agent morale.
For example, an agent might quickly resolve and delight a customer during an interaction, but if the agent hasn’t signed off with the standard brand-approved goodbye statement, they can instantly fail that section of the call evaluation. It’s easy to see why this is immediately demotivating, but what are the wider effects on the individual and business?
In the eyes of the agent, they have delivered everything the customer wanted – an excellent experience – so they can easily become angry, confused, upset and even resentful towards the company. This often results in disengaged agents, who are unlikely to perform to the best of their abilities.
“Agents need to be empowered to operate with autonomy and use their emotional intelligence”
In some cases, agents can respond to failing an audit in this way by becoming totally process orientated and will never deviate from every company policy. This might not sound like a problem, but in order to have a truly great customer experience, agents need to be empowered to operate with autonomy and use their emotional intelligence to make decisions. For example, an agent feeling this way might be on a call with a loyal customer of 20 years who paid a bill late on one occasion.
Common sense tells us that it would be a good idea to let this one slide and give the customer a few days grace, but in fear of non-adherence to company processes, the affected agent may still penalise the customer with a late payment charge or restriction of service. Is this customer experience a true reflection of the business’ values and beliefs?
This has a truly dangerous consequence, as placing too much emphasis on meeting process-driven quality criteria can cause agents to become robotic, losing the critical human element that makes delivering truly amazing customer interactions possible.
Contact centres need to ensure quality monitoring is a balanced process that leverages intelligently delivered praise along with constructive criticism.