This article was contributed by the wonderful Jeremy Watkin.
Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR. He has more than 18 years of experience as a customer service, customer experience, and contact center professional. He’s also the co-founder and regular contributor on Customer Service Life. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.
If you had to choose, what would you say are the absolute most important items on your quality form? As I work with new clients, I’m often asked that question and I usually list four items.
If our agents can be successful in those four things, the result should be a great customer interaction. Wow, that looks like a great foundation for a quality form, doesn’t it?
Not so fast. This is a multi-channel customer support operation we’re talking about here. It’s 2019 and customers can now contact us via phone, email, chat, social media, text, and a variety of other ways through their mobile devices. There’s no way we can use one single, simple quality form for all support channels, right? But then, does that mean we need separate quality forms for each channel? That could get complicated fast.
It sure would be nice to have a single, multi-channel quality form that works across all channels. In this article I’ll briefly discuss some of the distinctions between the different support channels when it comes to the skills I listed above, and then I’ll share some tips to keep quality assurance simple for your multi-channel customer service team.
There are most certainly differences in communication skills between support channels. In a phone conversation, verbal communication is center stage. We’ll evaluate tone of voice, pace of communication (e.g. talking too fast or slow), and the excessive use of annoying filler words (e.g. like, um, ah, mmmmkay, etc). I think we’re all guilty of most of these things from time to time but it’s important that they don’t detract from the message or undermine the confidence with which we communicate.
With text-based channels, grammar and spelling are critical and the message should be communicated clearly, concisely and in a way that’s on brand. The messaging should also look good and professional. This means that the paragraphs should be broken up logically with proper line breaks between the greeting, paragraphs, and the signature. Clearly voice and text require different skill sets to communicate the same message.
I prefer the term connection when talking about our ability to personalize the interaction appropriately for each customer. My typical process for connecting with a customer is as follows:
While I believe these basic skills span all customer interactions, there are most certainly differences between support channels. For example, in a phone or chat conversation, this process can take multiple minutes of the call — longer if the customer is really fired up. Via email, this may all be wrapped up in your first two sentences. I like to refer to our ability to empathize with other people as a superpower and we’ll have to use it here as we aim to connect authentically with the human being on the other end of the line regardless of the communication channel we’re using.
Security is a critical component of quality review, but this too may look different depending on the channel. For example, perhaps there’s an extensive authentication process when customers contact you on the phone where they need to verify three pieces of information. Customers writing in via email on the other hand, can’t even send a message unless they’re logged in, so they enter the queue already authenticated. Or what about social media where you simply can’t talk about their account at all because it’s a public facing channel? Or what if your team is placing outbound phone calls and needs to let the customer know that they’re on a recorded line.
This category probably has the least amount of variability by support channel. Correct answers have more to do with the type of work the agents are doing than the channel. There are a couple things to note, however. First, text-based channels can tend to be more macro-based, so you’ll want to evaluate the correctness of the selected macro. You’ll also want to evaluate the way the agent used their tools during and after the interaction which will vary by channel as well.
It’s clear that by virtue of the channel there will be differences in how you evaluate quality, but before you go creating multiple separate quality forms, let’s think through this a bit more. Here are some tips if you want to make a run at a single, multi-channel quality form.
On a final note, at the end of the day, you may still find that you need multiple quality forms because the work varies significantly depending on the channel — and that’s okay.
While it can certainly add complexity, it’s exciting that we’re increasingly able to connect with and support our customers based on their preference. That’s what it means to be a modern contact center.
The good news is that modern doesn’t have to overcomplicate your quality process. Keep your focus on evaluating communication skills, connecting with customers, complying with the regulatory stuff, and giving correct, complete answers and always prioritize coaching and developing agents. This can typically be accomplished with a single, multi-channel quality form.