Reimagining Quality Assurance with Automation

By Chris Recio, Director of Contact Center and Advanced Applications

To many Contact Center operations, the term “automation” is a dirty word. The term alone paints a picture of robotic-sounding greetings and cumbersome navigation processes for the customer. While advances in technology have dramatically improved these early issues, automation still has a negative connotation for many Contact Center operations and many Executives have made it a policy to eliminate automation altogether.

While I believe that is shortsighted in part, there are ways in which to deploy automation that will directly improve the experience for the Contact Center options, freeing up time to really focus on the customer experience, while simultaneously providing newer insights and a level of trust for those previously opposed to automation.

In our most recent blogs, we addressed the needs and the minimum requirements for procuring technology that will impact your ability to build a robust Customer Engagement Strategy. When I think of Customer Engagement, I am not solely focused on the Contact Center software that the Agents in your contact center will utilize while interacting with customers. The Contact Center itself is a subset of the broader picture when it comes to the Customer Engagement Process, which is actually a 360-degree view of the relationship you have with your customer.

The purpose of developing a Customer Engagement Strategy is to build brand loyalty while creating raving fans of your customers. Today’s customers have so many more options, and as a result, we must work harder to maintain customer loyalty. A single bad experience can impact your customer in ways that you may not be able to recover.

A critical aspect of any Customer Engagement Strategy is the need to fully understand your customer’s experience with your organization from all sides. The often underutilized and forgotten process I find in almost every Contact Center operation is the dedication to the Quality Assurance (QA) process.

While many clients have a QA process, most all have an issue dedicating sufficient time to the QA process. Having worked with contact centers for over 25 years, time is the one topic that most every contact center supervisor or manager can agree upon: There is never enough to complete all of the tasks that require attention to detail when managing a successful Contact Center operation.

It’s no wonder when the demands of customer inquiries peak, the first process to fall to the back burner is the QA process.

However, it’s my belief that when customer demands increase, the attention to the foundation must be much more focused. Compromising the QA process weakens the focus of all the hard work that has taken place thus far. It’s too easy to take shortcuts and the result of having taken shortcuts is typically an incomplete process or a rushed experience for the customer, and ultimately, that negatively influences the customer’s perception of your brand.

Maturing Technology & Voice Analytics

Over the past 5 years, Contact Center technology has improved in dramatic ways. One such technology is Voice Analytics.

While voice analytics has been in existence for many years, costs almost always pushed clients away from such products, and at that time, voice analytics was more of a luxury than a necessity for most contact center operations.

However, with the industry focus on Customer Experience and the need to find more efficient ways to “mine voice data” voice analytics is experiencing a resurgence of interest while simultaneously experiencing a renewed and refocused effort in development and ease of use.

If you are new to Voice Analytics, think of it this way: Voice Analytics can almost completely automate the QA process. Additionally, when I consider the value that Voice Analytics provides, it can also give you far more insight into the customer experience than an After-Interaction Survey, or any Survey for that matter.

While After-Interaction Surveys are often deployed to elicit feedback from your customer, the take-rate for most industries is quite low: in the neighborhood of 3%-8%, or if a strategic “upsell” of the survey is pushed by agents, clients might see an increase of the take-rate up to 20%. But it’s always a task and most clients will simply hang up or ignore the survey altogether. That’s a topic of another discussion, but the ability to gather the customer experience through Voice Analytics offers another way in which to gauge the overall expertise of your agents while simultaneously obtaining insight into the probable experience of your customers.

So how does Voice Analytics provide the Contact Center operation with QA Automation?

Voice Analytics software takes the call recording or real-time audio, breaks the audio down into text, and then applies analytics to categorize the spoken audio into reportable metrics, visuals, actions, and dashboards.

With Voice Analytics, Supervisor, and Manager reports pinpoint key areas of interest to QA, Compliance, and more. Metrics include:

  • Sentiment Analysis
  • Positive\Negative Dialogue
  • Script Tracking
  • Overtalking
  • Silence
  • And More

The result for Supervisors and Managers is reports and dashboards highlighting key spots during conversations and overall trends of dialogue, all of which save time by focusing the User or QA Analytics directly to key parts of the discussion.

Why Use Voice Analytics Automation

Simply put: Contact Center operations evaluate only a small sampling of the generated customer traffic through a QA process. Of the Contact Center operations that have an active QA process, most typically do the following:

  • Set Rules for the Quantity of Scorecards to be Complete Per Agent Over Time
    • 3 – 5 Evaluations per Week/Month
  • Hire Full-Time QA Analysts to Process QA Scorecard Evaluations
  • Require Supervisors, Managers, or Team Leads the Task of Completely QA Evaluations

However, the net result of this type of structure is only a fraction of actual QA Evaluations compared to the actual number of interactions received in the Contact Center, which leaves real gaps in probability vs reality.

For Example: Let’s say our rule is to complete 5 QA Evaluations per agent per month. We have 50 agents. The call volume is roughly 1500 calls per day on average.

1500 x 20 (M-F) = 30,000 Calls Per Month
5 x 50 = 250 Expected QA Evaluations Per Month
250/30,000 = .83% of Calls Evaluated Per Month

If we raise the expectation to 10 calls per agent per month, the net result would be 1.6% of activity. In my opinion, the margin for error in the minimal amount of interactions that are put through the QA process is too wide a gap to really get a true sense of the customer experience.

As clients ramp up their efforts and focus on QA the net result is likely these outcomes:

  • The Need to Hire a Full-Time QA Analyst
  • Pull Managers/Supervisors/TeamLeads Away from Other Tasks
  • A Completely Skewed Vision of Customer Experience Reality
  • A Low Percentage of Interactions Reviewed

When working with clients and addressing QA, the #1 reason managers and supervisors are not able to process a larger sample of their recorded interactions is the lack of time.

Most managers and supervisors are tasked with so many things throughout any given day that finding time is a luxury. The idea of completing QA on all recorded interactions is almost laughable.

However, when it comes to Customer Engagement and Customer Loyalty, there is no better way to understand the customer experience while simultaneously addressing agent effectiveness through a dedication to the QA process.

Fortunately, today there are technologies available that can automate tasks, including the QA process. Voice Analytics is an invaluable tool available today that can almost fully automate the time needed to complete 100% QA on all recorded interactions within and beyond the contact center operation.

The benefits of QA Automation include:

  • 100% QA Process of All Customer Interactions
  • A More Accurate Overview of Actual Sentiment and Customer Experience Insight
  • Reduced Manager/Supervisor/TeamLead/Analyst Time in Review
  • More 1:1 Time with Agents
  • More Efficient Targets for Developing Operational & Training Strategies
  • And More

As more and more customers shift from an ACD-First Strategy to a Data-First Model – this is a topic for another blog – the need for more analytics to develop thoughtful strategies has increased. Having tools to visually pinpoint the focus is becoming more of a critical need rather than a luxury.
Every bit of available data that can be associated with the Customer Experience pays huge dividends when it comes to developing a robust and healthy Customer Engagement Strategy.

With data in mind and when considering options for automating the QA Process, of the products we have reviewed, we find the following products of particular interest, for ease of use, ease of deployment, ease of customization, strong visuals, and of course, reporting.

Voice analytics is game-changing technology, and this is the type of automation that can transform the efforts associated with the QA process. This provides Executives, Directors, Managers, Supervisors, QA Analysts, and team leads much more insight into Agent Efficiencies and Customer Experience alike. Keeping in mind that customers today are reaching out to our Contact Centers via many different channels, the need for conversational analytics across all channels (chats, SMS, Email, etc.) has become paramount in gaining deeper insights and in seizing the opportunity placed before us.

With available voice analytics applications, NOW we’re really talking about data mining, customer experience measuring, and agent performance monitoring on a completely different level. That’s more for next time where we will take a deeper look at the automation provided by today’s invaluable adjacent technologies: Call Journey, Observe.AI, and SuccessKPI.