How Customers Collaborate with Their BPO Partners Today & What it Should Look Like

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Strengths and Opportunities from MaestroQA Customer hims & hers

Trust is important in every relationship– especially in customer support. An impending (or maybe already here, depending on the economist you talk to) recession has led companies to laser focus on happy customers and meet their demands by quickly scaling customer support teams. In order to make rapid changes, many companies have turned to Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) to quickly increase agent count, accommodate 24/7 service, and provide assistance in multiple languages. These BPO teams often work relatively independently of the company that contracts them. This distance creates problems with visibility into Agent and Quality Assurance workflows, leading to inconsistencies in the customer experience. But integrating BPO Management into your QA program can make process a lot smoother.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how implementing a strong Calibration workflow for your internal and outsourced Quality Assurance Graders, can establish trust and transparency in your relationship with your BPO. To inform this post, we’ll dive into how one of our customers, hims & hers– a fast-growing telehealth company– collaborates with their BPO today and how they plan to improve accuracy and reporting from these outsourced graders in the future. 

Pitfalls of a BPO Led Calibration Exercise

When Quality Assurance Supervisor, Salmeen Majid, started at hims & hers, they were already partnered with a Business Process Outsourcer (BPO). At prior companies, she remembers how selecting a partner–"was really about just aligning with similar values, brand tone, and voice, and making sure that they had the ability to coach to quality." 

Salmeen meets with her approximately fifteen BPO supervisors weekly. During this time, she and one of her internal QA Analysts perform a calibration exercise. The outsourced team will share two of their agents’ tickets ahead of time & Salmeen and her analyst audit the agents’ performance based on a scorecard she and her internal team have created. During their meeting with the BPO supervisors, they will go over the tickets together and discuss where they landed in terms of scoring vs how the BPO supervisor scored. These discussions continue until both teams feel they are aligned. 

This weekly meeting is also Salmeen’s opportunity to get a temperature read on how things are progressing at the BPO: if there are any pain points the team is experiencing in terms of quality if they need updates to the scorecard or any other process issues the BPO supervisors want to raise to the hims & hers headquarters. In between these weekly meetings, Salmeen tries her best to be available to her BPO supervisors to answer questions about the business and quality processes via Slack. 

While Quality is Salmeen and her internal QA Analysts’ bread and butter, they tend to feel a hesitation from their BPO partner when it comes to having these discussions. Every week the BPO supervisors will have one person present and read the ticket while sharing the Google Sheet of their scores and feedback. To Salmeen’s chagrin, it’s– 

"just one person's feedback. So based on that, once they've read their feedback from this Google Sheet, then my analysts and I will go over our feedback and where we kind of landed. We’ll ask them some questions to understand better where they landed & the reason for the score they chose, and then we'll open up the discussion to the rest of the group. People kind of slowly chime in here and there or will put it in the chat what score they landed on. In those meetings, there's a variety of camera on camera off."

This worries Salmeen. Her internal team is only getting visibility into one person’s thought process per week and that one supervisor is the supervisor of the agent that they’re grading which tends to lead to some degree of bias. While some other supervisors (usually the same few week after week) chime in with thoughts, it's a heavy lift on Salmeen and her analyst to create a discussion and turn it into a conversation “the group is pretty quiet.”

Needless to say, Salmeen is not a fan of this process. While she concedes it has a lot of opportunity, the manual process really has her and her teams down. The entire calibration process happens in GoogleDocs & GoogleSheets. With notes and thoughts being spread over multiple documents and hiding in various drives, it's hard for her and her BPO supervisors to keep track week to week on their overall process and progress. Salmeen says its– 

 “a very unstructured discussion which I think lacks some benefit. It doesn’t feel very effective.” 

Creating a Culture of Trust with Your Graders

Salmeen’s internal support team at the hims & hers headquarters utilizes MaestroQA for their team calibrations. 

“When you do a calibration in Maestro, you can see everyone's feedback written there. We can share screen and see it there and compare who landed where in terms of scoring, and then we also have the scorecard actually there to refer to." 

She finds her internal calibrations lead to more in-depth discussions and free-flowing conversations among her team. This is a deep contrast to the hesitancy and disorganization of her weekly BPO meetings. Salmeen expressed that implementing a Quality tool like Maestro at their BPO could lead to better organization and visibility, allowing them to find their way to a better alignment that doesn’t feel so, in her words– “scrappy.”

MaestroQA Final Calibration

By implementing a service quality tool like MaestroQA, Salmeen has held her internal team to a level of expectation and excellence. When performing a Team Calibration using the tool, her analysts (and herself) are all expected to audit a ticket ahead of time– they read the entire customer interaction pulled from their helpdesk, add their feedback, and score based on the appropriately surfaced rubric. So when her teams are entering into the discussion, they already know what they want to say. 

"We already know what we wanna talk about. We all feel really prepared. And that makes it a lot easier to have that active conversation.”

Even with her small team of analysts (about five), Salmeen can tell from these traditional team calibrations that there is a wide spectrum in how they approach grading. Some team members go much easier on their agent groups, while others hold agents to a higher standard. In order to get her team fully aligned and standardize their grading process, Salmeen has taken advantage of MaestroQA’s grade-the-grader tool. 

Grade-the-Grader (also known as GraderQA), is a workflow in which a random sample of already graded tickets are surfaced to a “benchmark grader” for review. The benchmark grader re-grades the ticket (without seeing the original score) and the system generates an alignment score between the original grader and the benchmark. 

“The reason why I started doing that was not only to see how we can get more calibrated as a team and make sure we're all aligned in terms of how we actually grade these tickets, but also to see the quality of my analysts' work."

MaestroQA GraderQA Alignment Reporting

Salmeen found that utilizing a tool to double-check grading quality, allowed her to uncover performance opportunities in her analysts– such as coaching analysts to be more efficient in their grading or spending more time personalizing their feedback rather than copying and pasting from previous tickets. By generating alignment through a grade-the-grader system, Salmeen was able to create trust in the QA data they were creating.

BPOs Need Grader Management Tools 

Oftentimes, when a BPO is only engaging in some sort of team calibrations, they have the know-how to present a grading style the greater business wants to see. Because the Graders are aware that they are being tested, they can not only cherry-pick which customer inquiries to share (opting for higher-performing agents, or easier-to-resolve customer calls), but may even engage in grading practices completely different from their day-to-day grading. 

Without true alignment between BPO graders and internal graders, a BPO can misrepresent its quality. We are constantly hearing the complaint that BPO teams report blanket QA scores in the high nineties (with little to no data to back this up), while the internal team working with those same customers and running a robust QA program on MaestroQA holds a QA score in the mid-eighties. When your QA scores internally and externally are not aligned and your CSAT scores don’t match your BPO’s reported QA scores, something is up. 

MaestroQA BPO Dashboard

While Salmeen is still working with her team internally to roll the MaestroQA tool out to their BPO, she is empowered with the structure and knowledge of how successful calibrations and oversight within her internal team have increased customer happiness. These systems allow her to notice the red flags in a BPO’s reporting and bubble up needed changes and expectations both to her own leadership teams and those of her outsourced partners. 

If you want to learn more about MaestroQA, request a demo today.

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