Are your call center agents fully prepared and offering the best possible care for your customers? You have likely heard about or even experienced frustrated customers venting on social media and other channels after not getting the support they needed.
Let’s face it, the aftermath of a poor customer experience can have a lasting impact on your business that can be tough to overcome. That’s why many organizations have turned to a quality assurance program to prevent bad customer service before it ever happens.
What is a quality assurance program and why is it important?
You can think of a quality assurance program as the activities and management processes that ensure a call center is delivering a required level of service. With more service centers taking fewer phone calls and experiencing more digital inquiries, some are referred to as a contact center.
Depending on the product and level of complexity, customer service channels will vary. The more common support channels include phone, live chat, email, support tickets, SMS texts, and web form submissions. Quality assurance programs are meant to assess agent performance during customer interactions to gather insights.
The end goal is to standardize and improve agent interactions. At the end of the day, all customer service centers want their agents to offer consistent customer service and resolve issues as quickly as possible. Providing a superior customer experience, addressing workforce training needs, and improving customer retention are a few reasons why many organizations develop quality assurance programs.
What are the consequences of poor customer service?
The effects of bad customer service can add up quickly and get out of control before you know it. According to researchers, poor customer service can be costing businesses more than $75 billion annually. These numbers are staggering. Any financial loss can be difficult to come back from but there are more consequences beyond the financial pain.
Here are five consequences of poor customer service that can put your company on the wrong track:
- Damaged brand reputation. Your brand is the face of your company. It’s what you stand for. Building your brand takes a long time and considerable effort by so many people in your company. Even though it may not be as painful as losing revenue, your brand is greatly impacted by poor customer service. These days, customers are quick to complain about a bad customer experience in various public forums including social media. This can be difficult to rebound from and it can take years to restore your reputation.
- Lost revenue. It’s a fact, companies lose large amounts of revenue every year due to ineffective and inconsistent customer service. The risk is not just in losing an existing revenue stream, but from potential new customers as well. By allowing subpar or mediocre customer service, you’re giving your competitors an easy opportunity to take away your best clients.
- Loyalty diminished. Anyone who has worked in sales knows that it’s much easier to upsell a product or service to an existing customer than to acquire a net new one. By not focusing on providing quality customer service, you risk losing those coveted loyal customers. In a highly competitive industry, great service can be a differentiator.
- Uphill battle for sales. When the reputation of poor customer service takes hold, your potential customers see your sales representatives and marketing messages as misguided. That means leads will suffer and outreach efforts will be that much more challenging.
- A decline in employee engagement. Poor customer service can damage a company’s reputation and put feelings of burnout on customer service agents when their day is full of unhappy customers. Once they lose confidence in the people or products they work with, they start to become disengaged and further strain the customer service process. Soon there is a mass exodus and new challenges around recruiting and training.
How to improve call center quality
Identifying issues with call center customer service and getting to the root cause is a great first step on the path of improving quality. Studies have shown that 96% of consumers worldwide say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand. Making the effort to improve the quality of the service you provide can reinforce your brand and create growth opportunities for your company.
Here are ideas on how to make call center quality improvements:
- Start with customer satisfaction scores. If you are using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or CSAT you should have some good feedback that points to specific areas for improvement. Many companies today are looking to social media listening tools to uncover qualitative feedback on customer experience. Find areas in need of improvement and make a plan to address them.
- Dig into the data. You must look closely at your call center metrics to uncover trends in data like first call resolution, average handle times, wait times, and survey responses. This will tell you a story and give you areas that can operate more effectively.
- Ask customer service agents what parts of the job are most frustrating? Ensure that agents have the tools and training necessary to be successful on the job.
- How are the agents being onboarded and do they have regular training opportunities? Connect your agents to comprehensive learning resources where they can obtain the knowledge to work with confidence and get their questions answered quickly.
- Consider a mentoring or coaching program to help new agents onboard effectively. This type of program also gives more experienced call center agents a chance to develop leadership skills.
- Evaluate the rewards and recognition programs you have in place. If none are in place, think about ways you can motivate agents to go above and beyond (e.g. time off, bonus pay, recognition). If you have programs, survey your agents to find out how motivating they are and what else could be offered.
- Invest in a quality assurance software solution to automate the process for quality assurance analysts and managers. Using integrated technology to monitor and rate agent performance in a highly visual scorecard provides everyone with instant feedback to make quick changes. Playvox Quality offers an integrated quality assurance solution for chat, support tickets, and text-based interactions that enables your company to automate and improve your QA processes.
The ROI of a quality assurance program
To get started means investing the time, budget, and resources dedicated to call center quality assurance. Studies have shown that 84% of companies who invested in improving customer experience saw an increase in revenue and 79% experienced cost savings. The resources you will need may include additional staff, new programs and processes, and a quality assurance software solution. Paying for a quality assurance program will be a small investment in comparison to the costly consequences of bad customer service.
By investing in a quality assurance program, you will preserve your company’s reputation and maybe even build a stronger brand known for superior customer service. You will also save on the costs of employee turnover and customer churn. Over time, it will be crystal clear that prioritizing customer experience is a win for your customers, stakeholders, and your organization’s bottom line.