February 11, 2021

Call Center Partnership 1 Solution

In this article, we will take you through one of our client’s results from using Call Criteria as their call center QA specialists. I won’t go into what company this is due to data protection; however, I will back-up the details with screenshots of our dashboard that they use. Before they partnered with us, they had their own QA team, as many call centers do. However, it was not a large team, and they were struggling to keep up with the calls they had to analyze.
The company was also struggling to scale their call center due to their difficulties with their QA. First of all, I will tell you how they were running their call center from a QA point of view. After that, I will go into the details of what Call Criteria have done to help, and finally, I will show you the difference that using outsourced QA can make for your company.

Call Centers Before Call Criteria

All call centers are difficult places to run. There are so many nuances that you need to address every day. We have gone through some of those in previous articles, such as our call center coaching article. There were approximately fifty advisors and five quality assurance analysts in the call center that we are talking about today.
That alone is an awkward situation, as there is not an ideal ratio of QA to advisors. However, the cost of expanding the QA team is quite high when you consider the costs of recruiting, wages, and training. You are easily looking at tens of thousands of dollars per QA agent per year. While there is no ideal ratio to aim for, a 10 to 1 is usually not enough.
Therefore, let’s start to look at some of the issues that can arise in the call centers with in-house QA.

Issues

Many issues arise when you run a call center with in-house QA. Here is a couple that this company has had, and you may have found:

  • Increased workload. – As you know, when you start to grow your own QA team, you are also increasing the workload of the office as a whole. Adding more work to those employees can strain them as individuals, and that will reflect on the business. One of the issues that this company faced was that they needed the managers to listen to their calls to do QA on them. That is a very uncontrollable aspect to become reliant on in any environment. The managers have a lot of other work that they need to do, but doing QA is not their first choice when they have spare time.
  • Higher training outlay. – Training your staff to become a call center QA is expensive and time-consuming. And that is even more so if you have to employ different people to do the job.
  •  The ability for an internal cover-up. – Of course, no one wants to admit this is a possibility, but it is. When your QA team are friendly with the agents, they are more likely to cover up their friend’s mistakes and not raise them as issues.
  • Difficult to scale. – As I have pointed out above, having and maintaining the perfect ratio of QA to agents is difficult at the best of times. However, when you think of scaling your call center, that has to include scaling your QA. That will give you endless headaches, more recruiting, more training, etc.

One other issue that this company had when they were scaling their agents was this: An advisor could very quickly say;

“Manager, that is the only time I have never ever, ever done this before. I’ve never done it. And this is just one time and you’re just picking this call.”

That is an issue when you are not recording and analyzing all of your calls. The agents can cover things up themselves. Because the number of agents is increasing a lot more rapidly than the QA team, it gives them credibility to say that type of thing. It didn’t matter if the missed point was necessary or even a regular occurrence. If there was no proof, there is no comeback.
And so, the agents now have credibility. Their argument was substantial; the company was finding the agents thinking things like this:

“You’re not listening to enough calls to prove your point and so you’re full of it and I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing.”

This situation is a very frustrating one. You are concerned with scaling your call center and providing value to your customers. But without QA backup, you are in a tricky situation.
It is at this point that Call Criteria stepped in to help with the QA.

Transition

Once we had quoted our services and price for what this company required, we asked them how difficult it was to get the approval for the budget – this was their response:

“Honestly, it was pretty easy when I told them how much money it would save them by not having to hire in house. There is a pretty significant saving to it. Once we outlined that, and the volume that we could go, and the speed at which we could scale, it was very successful.”

That statement alone proves the benefits of using an outsourcing company for your QA. However, there are still challenges to the transition period, and we will go through them and tell you how we have found best to combat them:

Current QA team

Of course, the first issue that you have got is your existing QA team. When you decide to outsource in an environment such as a call center, the first thing that people think is, “what about my job?” That is something that you will need to consider before outsourcing. The majority of companies that turn to outsourcing will not want to lose their knowledge and skillset that those people already have.
We asked this company what their approach to this was:

“All of the people that were working for me at the time were really valuable and had really really good skillsets. So I’ve been able to use them to upskill their vision on what they’re looking for. So running calibrations, running points between the outsourcing and us, making sure that our communications are good, I’m suggesting and implementing changes that make sense for the business when it comes time.

And so they’ve got opportunities now to go into a whole different direction from a quality assurance perspective then they would have two years ago.”

Offering your current QA team an opportunity to liaise and make decisions with the outsourcing team gives them feelings of self-worth and job security. A different statement by the same company was:

It’s vital, you can’t forget that piece of it. Because without that communication, it could have people just running either for the hills or just scared. And that’s not effective.

The main point to take away from their experience is to communicate well with your current team and reassure them that they will not lose their jobs. It would be best if you did this as soon as possible. One idea for this is to implement the training of your staff at the earliest time possible. Employees will see that training is the security of their job.

Peoples Perspective

It is not just job security that you need to factor in this transition. Often, employees are “stuck in their ways” of how they do things, and they do not want to change. While this is understandable, it is human nature to look for patterns. We are all creatures of habit. It is not the best-case scenario while making changes that will be highly beneficial to the company.
People’s perspectives of changes to any environment differ vastly depending on who they are. There is no getting away from that. Again, we asked this company how they found that and how they overcame the troubles of peoples perspectives:

“That’s where we have had some work to do in changing some people’s perception and changing their understanding of what we’re dealing with. As far as having the conversation and not doing what you’ve always done just because that’s a standard answer.
But when the leadership started seeing success, and as we’ve grown, they have seen more and more insights and that’s been helpful in pushing the wheel over the hill and speed up pretty quickly after we got the initial momentum.”

Sometimes, you have to see that there are people very stuck in their ways. They do not want to change things. However, in this case, you need to talk to them and explain what is happening and why. Get people who are more adaptive to change onboard first, and when the people who are less willing will see the transformation and become more accepting.

Scaling

During the transition process, scaling is one thing you are considering but possibly not implementing straight away. Call Criteria’s transition period and this company working together was a pretty short amount of time, and the scaling of agents was straightforward after the initial transition. We will go into the scaling period and numbers in the next section.

After The Call Criteria Merge

Now that Call Criteria have had involvement with this company, there have been significant differences in a relatively short time. First of all, let’s have a look at some of the issues before Call Criteria. Then we will see how those things were changed.

Resolved Issues

At the beginning of the article, I told you the issues you can come across with your own in-house QA team. Now that the company has partnered with us, this is what they have found compared to those fundamental issues:

  • Decreased QA workload. – There is now actually a decrease or replacement in the workload of their current QA staff. As pointed out earlier, the original QA agents are currently liaising with Call Criteria and the company management. That ensures the right information is being looked at by both sides of the partnership and required changes get implemented correctly. The agents have around the same workload until they increase their staff.
  • No QA training outlay. – With Call Criteria, there are no training outlays needed for new QA staff. That is because Call Criteria manage all of their training in-house. That means that this company has been able to use their training budget on more advisors and call agents instead of QA staff.
  • No ability for an internal cover-up. – Using our QA team, there is no ability for cover-ups. Call Criteria work with you as a company and have no direct relationships with your agents.
  • Easy to scale. – With Call Criteria, there is no limitation for the agent to QA ratio. It is something that you don’t need to think about when you are scaling your call center. If you are trying to scale with an in-house QA team, you have to scale your agents and QA simultaneously. All while trying to keep the ratio balanced.

As you can see, the initial difficulties that you see with in-house QA and expansion are resolved immediately after deciding to partner with Call Criteria. Next, I will show you some specific differences from the beginning day of the partnership to how they are now.

Joint Partnership Start to Today

The following are facts based on our data that we can show you: (December 2018 compared to the last 30 days of writing this.)

As you can see in the image above, the first month we worked together compared to the most recent 30 days has had a massive increase in every aspect. I will run through each of them:

  • Calls reviewed. – In the first month of partnership, we reviewed 2,135 calls. During the last twelve months, they have been able to increase that call count to 53,3443. That is an increase of 2403% in reviewed calls.
  • Failed Calls. – Of course, the failed calls are going to have increased relative to the number of calls reviewed. Soon, I will show you some images of more recent months.
  • Non-scorable. – The non-scorable count is how many calls have not been scored for one reason or another. Mainly due to line difficulties, etc. In the first month, there were 219 non-scorable calls; now, there are 13,299. That allows the company to see that they need to invest in better quality line recording, or whatever is required. Having this increase may seem bad, but it shows downfalls in other areas that you would not have been able to see if you weren’t reviewing so many calls.
  • Agents.Before working with Call Criteria, the company had 50 agents. They want to expand it as much as they could. During the transition period, they managed to get it to about 250. And since December, they have added an extra 266 agents. Overall that is a 1026 percent increase in agents alone.
  • Minutes.Next on the list are call minutes reviewed. In the first month of the partnership, there were 51081 Minutes reviewed. In the last 30-days, there have been 363712 minutes reviewed. That gives a 612 percent raise.
  • Average Score.Finally, the average score is one of the most important aspects to look at when outsourcing your QA. All call centers strive for an average rating as high as possible, showing the best customer service possible. 

For the points above, I have used the beginning month and the last 30 days to compare. However, you might ask yourself what sort of monthly increase you can expect in the first few months. Of course, this increase will be based entirely on your plans, funds available, and total ability to scale. But we will look at the first two quarters of the company next:

First Six Months Of Partnership

The first six months of change is often a bittersweet time. It is likely to be the most difficult, and hopefully, the best increase you will get in such a short amount of time. That is providing you have the plans laid out correctly. The next image here is comparing the first and second quarters of the calendar year of 2019:

I will not go into all of the points as I did above, but you can see here that, despite the difficulties that can arise during transitions, there is still a massive increase in all aspects. However, if you now look at the non-scorable calls, you will see a significant drop in the number of calls that we could not score. That shows that Call Criteria provided valuable and actional feedback on how to improve the call quality.

Extra Information

There are many figures here that allow you to see the productivity and quality increase that comes with using Call Criteria as your call center QA. However, it is not just numbers and figures that we focus on here. We pride ourselves on being a flexible and adaptable company that provides what the customer wants, not what we want.

Scorecards

Many QA analytic companies have set scorecards and almost no flexibility in things like what is a failed call. We work with you to produce scorecards that fit your needs perfectly.
This company’s view is slightly different from most, and we have done everything that we can to accommodate that. Most call centers want their calls to be a failed call if there is a missed compliance statement. After losing a fail point, we stop monitoring the call and mark it as a fail. Those fail points can be anything that you, as a call center, want them to be.
If you never want to fail a call, then you set zero fail points. However, due to this company’s nature, they have rather long call times, with a lot of information in them after the compliance statements. This next statement is their view on the compliance statement fails:

If an advisor misses “all calls are recorded for quality assurance purposes,” that’s in the first, the first 30 seconds of a 30 minute call. Then you’re done. There’s not a lot of value in that for the managers. There could’ve been really good information in the rest of the call. So we’ve separated out our compliance and we don’t score for compliance. I can’t coach agents other than to tell them what the statement is.
There’s not a skill development involved in saying “all calls are recorded.” There are nuances of how to say it without sounding like a robot. But it has to be in there. So by separating it out and continuing to score the calls, we can score for skill and then hold them accountable for will.

Not failing calls because of compliance statements is a great way to allow for more in-depth call monitoring and coaching.

Coaching

Coaching your agents is a huge part of managing a call center. Before Call Criteria partnered with this company, and any other companies that have a small in-house QA team, you will hear statements like the one at the beginning of this article:

“Manager, that is the only time I have never ever, ever done this before. I’ve never done it. And this is just one time and you’re just picking this call.”

We asked the company what their view on coaching is now, based on the comments that they were receiving before Call Criteria were running the QA:

“Well now we have the opportunity to look at coaching on a question by question basis. The percentage of times out of 12, 15, 20, 30 calls, the agent missed this question, this percentage of the time. There’s not a lot of arguments that you can have when you get that and when you pull those calls and you can pull a stack of three or four calls to make the point that allows the coaching to be a different conversation. It allows the managers some confidence in how they’re going to coach.”

Based on that, I will now show you an image of our dashboard to show you what sort of information there is available to you and your coaching team. The picture is taken from one agent, over one month of their calls:

You can instantly see that in the last 30 days, this agent has taken 12 more calls than in the previous 30 days. Their score has also increased by 1%. However, you may feel like they would benefit from some specific coaching based on their missing points. That is where our coaching queue comes in:

Although the missed points may not mean anything specific to you, they can be anything you like. What this section of the dashboard does give, though, is the ability to see the difference in two months. There has been an increase in 2 points, a decrease in one, and no change in 2 of them.
Having this information, along with the next image, allows you to have a highly productive conversation for coaching. If you hover over the information symbol, you will get a pop-up like this:

Now you can see that the referrals have been missed 44 out of 49 times. Therefore, you are in a perfect position to take this to the agent to coach them based on that, or any other point, that you feel the need. So, we asked the company what their views on the missed points are, now that they have had our dashboard for twelve months:

“With the number of questions that we have, there’s rarely a call with no coaching opportunities. But you have to be very mindful coming from a coaching side as well. You can’t go in and have a scorecard that has 15, 20 missed things, and so you need to do this, this, this, and this. You’re never going to get any impact from that.”
“So what we’re working with our managers and our coaches to do is find where are you going to get the most value. If you’re constantly just leaving the call with, “I’m going to send you an email and call me when you feel like it” I’m going to see there’s some value in creating next steps.”

Call Criteria dashboard also allows you to listen back to the calls, and all of the points are readily available for reference. You can see more about that in the agent tracking article here.

Conclusion

All in all, there has been an enormous increase in many aspects of the business because of the partnership:

  • Calls Reviewed have risen to ~53,500 with an increase of 2403%.
  • Agents have increased to 563, which is a 1026% increase from before Call Criteria.
  • The average score of a call has risen by 53%
  • There is complete visibility and accountability in all calls and scorecard points. 

I will leave you with one statement from this company:

“I’m very happy with the partnership, but that’s the key word. It has to be a partnership. Without that communication, we would not have gotten here at this, at the speed at all.”

I hope that this article has shown you Call Criteria’s ability and how fast your call center can scale when using the correct outsourcing for your QA.
Contact us for more information.