Thursday February 16th 2012 12am
How to Stretch Your Dollar: Get the Quality You Want With the Budget You Have
During the past few years, all of us have been reminded of the age-old fact that resources are limited. With that knowledge, we strive to maximize the value of the resources we do have.
Quality in the contact center is no stranger to the limitation of tight budgets, combined with high expectations. You could choose to look at "quality" as an organization, a process of its own, or one step in an operational procedure. You could even strategically imbed quality into your company culture. Regardless, there is always a price you pay for quality. And your ability to the get the most out of every dime spent on quality will determine the return you see for this investment.
How can we manage? How do we deliver on the seemingly lofty promise of impeccable service, high quality (and if the stars are aligned) a positive, maybe even memorable customer experience?
To begin, focus on three major areas: hire quality, train quality, and calibrate quality.
By redirecting your resources from your current program to a best-practices approach to quality management and people management, you can get the quality you want with the budget you have.
Armed with the knowledge of industry best practices, you can repurpose your skilled resources, which can lead to lower costs and higher service, quality, revenue, and customer satisfaction.
#1 HIRE QUALITY: THE SOURCE OF YOUR QUALITY ISSUES COULD BE YOUR "SOURCING" PROGRAM
Whether you have literally run the numbers or not, there are definite costs to recruiting, hiring, and training new contact center associates. When you hire the wrong person who doesn't meet your quality expectations, you incur even more costs to manage a sub-par resource. At minimum, you will have to invest additional time and resources in coaching and retraining. Then, if they just can't make it, you may have to see them through the exit management process your organization requires. The costs of hiring resources who cannot meet your quality expectations can be alarmingly high.
High-performance contact centers invest the upfront time and resources to ensure their recruiting, hiring, and training processes are aligned with the quality needs of their operation. To accomplish this, you need to develop a hiring profile that is based on your operation's specifications for the minimum skills and knowledge required to perform each contact center job. This is more than simply a job description.
Make sure to continually review these hiring requirements to determine if they are resulting in the right hires, particularly for customer-facing roles. Utilize a quantitative scoring methodology for your recruiting process that is based on a candidate's demonstrated ability to meet the hiring requirements. Then, you should correlate the results with your new associates' performance during training and after their first 30 to 90 days on the job.
Be sure your recruiting team has some skin in the game, too. They should at least share some accountability for new-hire attrition and new-hire performance during training and the first 90 days on the job.
#2 TRAIN QUALITY: YOU CAN'T EFFECTIVELY DO A JOB YOU HAVEN'T BEEN TAUGHT
Make sure that your training program actually produces graduates who can perform their job effectively. Otherwise, someone in operations has to retrain each new associate, again incurring costs due to additional time and resources required to get them up to speed. Plus, the operations team ends up paying for resources far before they can contribute to a successful customer experience. The costs grow exponentially if the new associate falls short of performance expectations, and negatively impacts the customer experience, which could diminish new or ongoing revenue opportunities.
High-performance contact centers avoid unnecessary training costs, and the cost of poor quality that comes with an inadequate training program by relying on the following training best practices. Your contact center training program should include a master plan that communicates how each course meets all minimum job skill and knowledge requirements. The plan also should provide details about how to confirm its graduates will have the necessary job skills, criteria for retraining, and how training effectiveness will be measured.
For each contact center role, there should be a list of skills and knowledge that operations has defined as necessary to performing the job effectively. The training and operations teams should then agree upon things such as the materials or tools needed to teach each skill, the most effective setting or methodology to use, the best way to verify a trainee has learned the skill, and clear performance thresholds that must be achieved prior to being released to the operations floor.
And, since products, services, systems, business requirements, and customer expectations all change over time, the best contact centers have well-defined criteria to alert operations when it is time to retrain an associate to meet current needs.
#3 CALIBRATE QUALITY: YOUR QUALITY FRAMEWORK SHOULD BE DIRECTLY TIED TO WHAT MATTERS MOST TO YOUR BUSINESS
If your quality monitoring or audit results are not reliable predictors of revenue, compliance, and customer satisfaction, then you are not getting the information you need to manage quality and every penny spent on quality is a waste of company resources.
There is a better way to monitor quality with the budget you have.
High-performance contact centers design their quality framework based on key drivers of business goals, regulatory compliance, client performance requirements, and customer satisfaction. These key drivers are essentially baked into every aspect of their quality approach. Conversely, many companies actually monitor more key drivers than is actually required. From a staffing perspective, if designed correctly, you can also structure your quality program so that fewer resources are required, but achieve a greater return on your investment.
Monitoring forms should be designed with a focus on those attributes most critical to achieving business, compliance, and customer expectations. Forms should have few non-critical attributes, and should be clear of causal factors until a critical item has failed. Scoring mechanisms should be straight-forward (i.e., binary) and tied to critical behaviors. The results should strongly correlate with external performance measures, such as revenue, compliance, and customer satisfaction.
Reporting should have distinct measures in each of the critical performance areas that directly tie to business, compliance, and customer satisfaction drivers. Reporting should also provide actionable data that operations can use to drive performance improvements. And, finally, you should establish a fact-based process improvement methodology that all leaders are trained in and utilize regularly to turn performance challenges into new successes for your contact center.
These are just a few examples of how you can take your existing resources and combine them with the wisdom of industry best practices to achieve the quality and performance results you desire. To learn more, be sure to join Rick Zayas, Session 201: "How to Stretch Your Dollar: Get the Quality You Want With the Budget You Have" at 10:45am on April 24, at the Contact Center Spring 2012 Conference & Expo in Orlando, FL.
Rick Zayas Senior Consultant, COPC Inc. - Rick Zayas, senior consultant with COPC Inc., works with clients to assess their internal and outsourced service operations against customer requirements, business goals, and high performance benchmarks. He also leads performance improvement engagements for COPC Inc., and assists with developing and delivering best-in-class training programs. Rick has more than 20 years of experience in operations management, consulting services, and process improvement.