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Implementing a Quality Monitoring System


TMCnews Featured Article

May 07, 2009

Implementing a Quality Monitoring System

By Tim Gray, TMCnet Web Editor

This is a four part series that features the unique challenges and solutions for businesses facing greater dependency on the performance of their contact center to increase customer lifetime value.
The series is based on a white paper from Coordinated Systems, Inc. that provides an overview of how an organization can implement a call monitoring system to rapidly and effectively improve their agent performance. 

The paper titled “How to effectively implement a quality monitoring system for rapid agent performance improvement” includes sections:
  • The Challenge
  • Rolling Out Your Solution
  • Benefits of Call Recording
  • Business Impact
The Challenge for One of the Country’s Oldest Newspapers
From the agent perspective, the announcement that your company is implementing a quality call monitoring system can be a sensitive issue: privacy concerns, paranoia, and trust issues can arise. Creating a sense of empowerment and achievement through knowledge sharing and training is crucial to the success of any quality monitoring program. Easing the fear of big brother is the primary challenge at hand.
The Solution: call recording and quality monitoring implementation for the newspaper.
When the Call Center Supervisor started as a Call Center Manager at the paper, one of her first tasks was to implement a call center call monitoring solution. The new software would monitor calls and enable supervisors to evaluate the calls based on predefined criteria. While at first it sounds like a quality initiative that would not be met with much trepidation, often it can make employees uneasy. The reason for this is because most of these types of solutions for call centers compile data from recorded customer interactions. 

Recording incoming and outgoing calls within the call center is pretty standard fare. Who has not heard “this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes”? Still, the raw nature of call recording has been in the past likened to eavesdropping, and in essence, “Big Brother”.
“Big Brother” refers to the feeling of having everything monitored – e-mail, phone calls, chats, etc. it’s agreed that most people do not want to be “bugged” unless it’s a case of national security. In most cases, employees accept being monitored, whether it is in a side by side coaching effort, or when activities are recorded. The “Big Brother” concern may still be there, however. Implementing a call center quality monitoring solution should not elevate these concerns. The Call Center Supervisor realized that it is up to the employer to present this new procedural change in a manner that is both positive and non-intrusive. If she could get her call center agents to buy into the initiative, understanding that it is going to improve their overall performance, then and only then would they be successful.
Her first task at hand was to write up an outline of the reasons behind implementing the call monitoring system. She documented her main objectives as “rolling out the call monitoring system in a positive manner” and “to identify ways in which she could utilize Virtual Observer (the call center monitoring solution she chose) to enhance business objectives (improve call quality, customer retention, and provide for more training opportunities).
Before implementing Virtual Observer, agents were monitored on a side by side basis, or remotely via a supervisor listening in on a live call. The Supervisor knew that by using a call monitoring system, she could review many more calls and also in a much more efficient manner. It would also allow the agents to hear their own calls and see how they sounded and how they are scored.
Her strategy for the roll out was three fold: 1) introduce the concept, 2) demonstrate and 3) educate. She called this program the “CARE” program – “We listen because we care” with the CARE being an acronym for “Coaching Opportunities, Active Listening, Relationship Building, and Encouraging Improvement”.
She would stress the “magic of technology” and decorate the conference room with balloons and signs. Her goal was to make this into an event to get everyone pumped up and on the same page. One of the best ideas was to record the supervisors and herself fielding calls, and then allowing the agents to grade them. The agents really enjoyed the opportunity to evaluate their supervisors.
The recorded customer interactions would include opportunities for upsells, stops/saves, diffusing irate customers and other scenarios. Employees were able to view firsthand how to score a call, and as deficiencies are identified, how training can help to achieve improvement.
The Supervisor’s program planning also entailed writing a frequently asked questions guide for the agents, creating some visuals to help introduce the concept, send an invite out to each agent, and to create a development plan for them.
The paper’s call center agents had to sign off on being recorded. She made sure that they knew exactly how many times they would be recorded. Getting employees to accept the program and sign off on it is paramount to the program’s success. She told them that calls would be saved for 60 days and only the exceptional ones, the ones that turn “transactions into relationships” would be saved permanently for future training purposes.
When asked if she considered the implementation program a success, she responded “Absolutely. The program was received very well. The employees appreciated the fact that we made it fun. They also liked the fact that the supervisors recorded themselves fielding calls and then let the agents evaluate the calls. They kept a pool for the highest scores. They had prizes, food, and balloons at the event.”
She added: “Communication is everything. Our taking the time to explain the ‘why’ behind Virtual Observer (in a fun way) made the reps much more receptive to being recorded and relieved the "fear factor." It really helped them understand that this was truly a development tool, which was good for them as well as our customers.”
When asked if she thought this program helped reduce the fear of big brother, she answered a resounding “yes”. She agreed that implementing Virtual Observer, along with other creative motivational programs, has helped her call center create more upsells, saves, and overall performance improvement. 
She also uses Virtual Observer after hiring a new employee to assist in their training’ – “in fact I personally just had a group of new hires listen and score calls. It really helps them understand what is expected.” She added that the best feature in VO is the ability to pause a recorded call and comment on what was just said.
Virtual Observer was implemented on a phased basis, not only in the paper’s circulation department, but also in the newspaper’s classifieds department. The first phase included standard random sample recording and evaluation. Phase two introduced synchronized screen capture enterprise wide. The next phase will add additional recording methods to the Virtual Observer solution. Currently she records on a block of time basis, and she wants to add recording on demand, as well as the Virtual Observer E-learning and Content Delivery module, which will allow her to automate the distribution of relevant training content to employees based on evaluations.
In retrospect, she states “the entire process of using Virtual Observer has been a wonderful success, and unbelievably affordable as well (competitive systems were much more expensive, especially on a year 2 support agreement comparison). We look forward to continued performance gains.”
Please visit the Call Monitoring channel on TMCnet here for the second part of this four part series “Guidelines for Rolling Out Your Implementation”.

Tim Gray is a Web Editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Tim’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tim Gray

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