9 Questions to Ask When Designing a Quality Program
If you’ve worked with a customer service team for any length of time, you’ve likely encountered a quality assurance form at some point. These forms might feature a variety of scoring methods and include elements to evaluate the agent’s greeting, closing, communication skills, and the accuracy of the answer provided to the customer. Some forms are really long, while others take a minimalist approach. This article isn’t about debating which is better.
Before creating a quality form for a program at FCR, we first interview our clients to understand the type of experience we should be consistently delivering to their customers. From there, we create a guide that clearly defines quality interactions — giving agents understanding of what’s expected of them and supervisors a guideline for measuring performance. Here are some of the questions from the interview with clients that you’ll want to consider when designing your own quality process.
What’s your brand voice?
Having a clear brand voice is really important. It ensures alignment in the style of communication from the customer service team with the other messaging from your company — like marketing communications. You’re essentially teaching your agents to speak a common language and customers appreciate the consistency.
When asked this question, some clients have a clear and thorough voice and style guide that talks about everything from when to use emojis and exclamation points to whether or not the team uses the serial comma. That’s certainly a best practice but we’ve found that even describing the brand voice in a handful of keywords can be really effective. Here are a some examples:
- Friend of a friend
- Professional but casual
- Authentic and transparent
- Positive, fun, upbeat, and outgoing
From there, give your agents the freedom to develop a style of their own that fits within your guidelines.
What words or phrases should we avoid?
One client called these “stop words.” Most clients have a set of terms or phrases they prefer not to use with customers. At the top of my list are words like unfortunately, can’t, and won’t or any other words that might prevent us from doing business with them. Some companies are sensitive to words like bug or outage. Whatever the word or phrase is, be sure to offer some alternatives and encourage your agents to be creative within the parameters of your brand voice.
What’s your model for connecting with the customer?
While some agents are naturally good at listening to customers, acknowledging the issue, showing empathy, and demonstrating ownership of issues, your team will be much more successful if this is modeled for them. Take the time to write out some guidelines to get them thinking about how to communicate acknowledgement, ownership, and empathy and then practice putting these skills into action.
This will go a long way toward building and sometimes restoring customer trust. These skills make the necessary human connection required in order to solve the issue the customer contacted you about in the first place. When going through this exercise, make sure that these don’t become scripts. The moment they become scripts they become disingenuous and can quickly backfire with customers.
What are the important security precautions to consider?
There’s plenty of common sense that can be applied when we think about security in customer service. Credit cards, social security numbers, and other sensitive information should never be sent in text-based messages. A process for redacting this information if it does show up should be establish. In addition, be sure to understand the process for verifying a customer before their account can be discussed. When it comes to the security of our customers and their data, this is one area to be specific and consistent on.
What tools and systems will agents be using?
A good quality review takes into account how well agents are using the tools available to them. When they have a question, are they looking in the right place(s) to find answers? Check how well they’re navigating through all of the tools with an eye for accuracy and efficiency.
What are some important expectations to set with customers?
Think about it. What’s the top reason customers get upset? I daresay it’s when their expectations aren’t met. This might happen when their bill is twice as much as we told them it would be. They’ll most certainly call upset after 48 hours when we promised a call back in 24. Use the old adage of underpromise and overdeliver here when creating guidelines for expectations.
What’s your escalation process?
There’s nothing more frustrating internally than when an agent escalates a ticket but doesn’t include any notes or other evidence that they made any effort to work the ticket. Be crystal clear on the process for escalating a case, where it should go, what information should be included, and what actions agents should take before they escalate.
What actions should we take at the end of each interaction?
This question should lead to a couple things. First of all, let’s think the end of interactions in terms of first contact resolution or next issue avoidance. Are there any specific actions that should be taken before the interaction is complete to ensure that the customer doesn’t have to contact us again? Sometimes, this is more a matter of empowered agents so they don’t end interactions until they’re sure they’ve taken care of the customer — even answering questions they didn’t know or think to ask.
Also at the end of the interaction, the agent might be responsible to leave notes, tags or dispositions. I often term these actions as good citizenship because it sets our colleagues up for success if the customer does call back and also ensures that the customer doesn’t have to rehash everything they already said.
How do you measure a successful interaction?
Whether it’s Customer Satisfaction, Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort Score, or a combination of two or three, your team should be very aware of these goals. Agents should be serving customers in such a way that we naturally perform well on these surveys — and I realize that sometimes the marks are totally out of their control thanks to issues with the product or service. Supervisors should always approach interactions through this lens, asking, “If I were in the customer’s shoes, would I have been satisfied with this interaction?”
If you can document the answers to these nine questions, your agents will have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them and the supervisors performing the quality monitors will be aligned or calibrated with one another. Couple this with agents who are well-trained and empowered to provide accurate solutions and you’ll have a quality process that consistently drives great customer experiences.
Head of Quality
Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at FCR. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.