It’s been 66 years since the phrase “Big Brother is watching you” first made its debut in the classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Nineteen Eighty-Four was later made into a movie in 1956 where audiences viewed on the big screen how government manipulated every aspect of its citizens’ lives in order to brainwash them into becoming loyal, unthinking servants of the state. Orwell describes a society where every citizen is under constant surveillance by authorities and illustrates an abuse of power. Here was coined the expression: “Big Brother is watching you!”
In a call center, it’s not uncommon to hear quality monitoring associated with “Big Brother.” I’m sure you’d rather not have this image put forth with your quality monitoring initiative. An image is difficult to change overnight, but there are steps you can take right now to chip away at the frontline’s distrust of quality monitoring (QM) and replace it with an appreciation of QM as a useful coaching tool that allows for both feedback and recognition.
Use quality monitoring to provide positive reinforcement! Traditionally call coaching sessions are dominated by negative critiques of frontline agent performance, contributing to an agent’s beliefs that quality only serves the purpose of “catching me doing something wrong.” Commentary from supervisors and quality analysts such as “you should have …” and “you didn’t…” leave even the best of agents feeling discouraged, believing whatever they do is never good enough. Of course, there will be times when there is a need to correct misinformation provided to callers and clarify procedures not followed. But we also need to use QM to be on the lookout for when things are done right! Look for opportunities to reinforce behaviors performed to standard and that have a positive impact on the customer experience. Remember that reinforced behaviors are likely to be repeated again in the future. And this will also help to improve the image of your quality program.
Give your quality monitoring program a name so it can begin to take on a life of its own. Come up with one that communicates what quality means to your company, your call center and ultimately how it impacts your customers. Here are some examples to help spark your creativity:
- First-Class Quality
- TQNow (Total Quality Now)
- Q-CARE (Quality-Courteous/Appreciative/Responsive/Excellent)
You may want to turn this into a contest where your frontline agents submit names and the winner is awarded a prize! Perhaps you have graphic designers or want-to-be artists who can create a quality logo to use on t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, mouse pads and other marketing items. These can be give-a-ways for those who make a QUALITY IMPRESSION, as evidenced by customer feedback or achieving a consistently high quality monitoring score.
Create a Quality Council comprised of a mixture of frontline agents, quality specialists and supervisors. This is a great way to get others involved in creating a “voice” for quality. The Quality Council works together to help promote your quality program by creating a quality bulletin area (QUALITY CORNER!) to post customer letters and comments, tips to improve quality service and employee recognition. Create a quality service blog or an electronic suggestion box where agents can submit ideas of ways to improve quality and customer service. Encourage them to tell you what they’ve done or observed someone else doing to promote exceptional quality. Your Quality Council should be charged to a). Recognize “top-shelf” quality efforts; b). Review and implement suggestions for getting the word out about quality and c). Heighten your call center’s awareness around making every customer interaction a quality one.
Communicate your Quality Program Goals clearly to all. This one really speaks to the structure of your quality monitoring efforts and should include the following information: What is your QM mission statement? How does quality impact your company goals and help agents achieve their productivity targets? What are your specific quality goals? How many calls are recorded and monitored per agent per month? How does your call center utilize quality monitoring to develop agent skills? What is the coaching frequency and what can agents expect to receive in a coaching session? How does your calibration program work to improve consistency in QM? These guiding questions will get you started in identifying what to include in your communications to agents in order to break down the “Big Brother” perception. With this information, your agents will begin to appreciate quality as a vital part of their performance and essential to provide feedback and develop the skills needed to become successful! Much of the fear of “Big Brother is watching you” comes from lack of information. Not knowing the details of your quality program can create a breeding ground for the rumor mill which can easily result in negativity and resistance in allowing quality monitoring to be a guide to performance improvement.
It’s important to note that negative perceptions of QM do not come from the technology but how we use it and how we – supervisors and quality specialists – talk about it amongst ourselves and to the frontline staff. If you are struggling with “Big Brother is watching you” negative perceptions of your quality program, open up the dialog in your call center. Be proactive in changing the image of quality.
By Deelee Freeman, Call Center Training Associates
Deelee Freeman is the Director of Call Center Training Associates, providing training and consulting services for call centers. She can be reached at 404-630-2156 or firstname.lastname@example.org