Call handling skills, identify areas that need improving by setting up an effective quality assurance system

Customers want (among other things) to be understood, respected, and to have their problems solved. If a customer is not satisfied with the service delivered, they may try the next option – calling your competitors.

bebexs revolutionises your Call centre

Your agent’s attitude towards the job will change, and they will continuously improve their call handling skills and become better. Your Call centre will provide the best customer service and have more satisfied customers.

Taking our call centre’s performance to a higher level

Each call is an opportunity to improve customer engagement and satisfaction, helping to reinforce the brand image and credibility of the organisation.

But in our case, the opposite was happening. After years of steady expansion, the quality of service we were providing over the telephone started declining, and it was affecting our profits.

We recognized that we had a problem

Our call centre is an international company with two offices, one in the United Kingdom and one abroad. We always have had good feedback from our customers. In fact, we were still getting good feedback, just not as often as we did in the past. Sales were not growing as fast as they used to. And as the MD, I felt that the quality of the service we provided to our customers had gradually declined.

As an organisation, I now realise that we had got complacent. Inconsistent call handling skills were ruining our credibility and losing previously loyal customers.

Clients want:

to be understood
A thumb up closed in a circle representing that clients want to be understood by the call agent
to feel appreciated
A hand holding a heart representing that clients want to be appreciated by the call agent
to be respected
A gentleman lifting up his hat representing that clients want to be respected by the call agents
to feel comfortable during a call
Icon of a comfortable soft couch representing that clients want to feel comfortable during a call
to have their problems solved
Four matching puzzles forming a square representing that clients want to have their problems solved

They were not consistently getting this from our service; their problems were not solved by our call agents no matter how hard they tried.

Female customer annoyed by poor call handling skills and bad customer service over the phone is yelling 'For the 5th time, MY NAME IS MARY'

Clients’ complaints pointed out that:

  • our Contact center service was slow
  • the call agents were not professional and friendly
  • the call agents didn’t solve their problems

Unsatisfied clients were calling multiples times, and their issues were still not solved. The next step they were taking was calling our competitors.

All of this ruined our credibility in the eyes of the clients. Even the most loyal of them started doubting whether they should continue working with us or not.

Most of our customers were repeat callers. They liked our service, but occasionally one of our Agents would not do their job correctly, and we would fall below our usual high standard.

You are only as good as your last call, and we have lost customers over one call. Customers who we have given excellent service to for years.

Since people on average let twenty people know about negative experiences and let only five people know about their positive experiences, we knew we had to make a change.

Female customer spreads bad word of mouth about call agent's poor call handling skills, saying 'That call was terrible! The agent couldn't even remember my name!' to a man who replies 'Really? Oh, I'll tell Jane, she planned to call them too.

Trying to change things

When we could find the time, my managers and I listened to calls. These calls were neither brilliant nor terrible. Finding a problem call was like looking for your friend at a football match. And when we did discover a problem call, Agents always seemed to reply with the "Do you know how hard I work?" We had some good agents, but we had a lot of poor agents who thought they were good agents. We targeted the Agents we identified as poor performers and tried to get them to improve the way they were handling phone calls. Then they would leave!

Text saying 'Houston, we have a problem' next to a rocket, which implies that we have a problem with bad call handling skills

People came and went, but quality remained the same

Then we would carefully recruit replacements. At first, they would be enthusiastic and keen to impress, and after putting in a lot of effort to train them, we would put them on the phones. Initially, the new starters were excellent, but then they started picking up bad habits. Soon they were no better than the Agents they had replaced.

We were employing outstanding people, using our best performers to train them, and in the end, most of them ended up just like the Agents we had pushed out. And our customer satisfaction rates kept on falling.

Problems, Problems, Problems

We didn't have a problem; we had lots of individual problems. Each Call agent had bad habits and was missing (or had forgotten) part of their training. To try and ensure better service to the customers, I decided to put strict rules in place controlling average handling times and toilet breaks. We increased the number of calls we listened to, carefully evaluating them and entering the details into a spreadsheet. After two weeks of diligently evaluating calls, somebody managed to overwrite the spreadsheet, and we lost all the data!

Time to ditch those spreadsheets

So, we wrote a program to record the details into a database. Once again our Managers and supervisors got to work evaluating calls. We found many great calls, but they also discovered lots and lots of problems.

A trash can overfilled with torn printed spreadsheets used for evaluating call handling skills, conveying the message that it's time to ditch the spreadsheets and seek for a better solution

Things started changing

Unfortunately not in the direction we needed. Our problems got worse, not better! Agents were presented with lists of issues to resolve and felt bombarded. We lost some of our better agents. The atmosphere in the offices was terrible. Agents felt undervalued and openly rejected feedback.

Dad dancing!

It was my parent's 50th wedding anniversary, so to celebrate this amazing achievement we had a family get-together. It was a good night. I had a few beers, and my lovely wife a glass or two of wine, and we enjoyed talking to family and friends and reminiscing and dancing to our favorite old songs

In the morning the inevitable happened.
"Dad, you're a terrible dancer!" "What, how can you say that? I'm a great dancer; those were some of my best moves!" "No, Dad, you embarrassed yourself" (kids are never kind). Of course, I wasn't having any of it I knew the kids were trying to wind me up and I wasn't going to fall for it. I was never John Travolta, but I was sure that my dancing was OK.

"Dad!", "What!", "We filmed you!" (more laughter). I should never have bought the cheeky little G**s mobile phones. The evidence was undeniable: there I was, Dad dancing, and of course, they were right. I was terrible, wooden and out of sync.

A poor nights sleep

I had a restless night thinking about my problems at work, and the fact that although I had thought I was a good dancer, I was, in fact, a terrible dancer. Both were churning over in my mind.

Like some of my best ideas, it just appeared in my head at two in the morning.

I hadn't accepted the fact that my dancing wasn't perfect until I viewed the video myself. So, I got to thinking: if we get Call Agents to listen to their calls, they will realize they are not perfect and accept that their call handling skills need improving. And, because the Agents would have discovered the problem themselves, they might be more receptive to fixing it.

I knew I finally had the answer, so I got up and wrote myself a note then went back to bed and slept like a baby.

Self-evaluation to the rescue

I'm not sure if I'm finally succumbing to old age, but if I hadn't written that note, I wouldn't have remembered that Eureka moment. Monday morning I was in early converting our system. Now every Agent would receive a percentage of their calls to evaluate themselves, the Supervisors and Managers would evaluate a percentage of those self-evaluations for calibration purposes. I was confident that finally, I had cracked the problem.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. Something was missing.The Agents were not objective; they just kept on giving themselves high marks (usually 100%) even if the call was terrible.

We found the "Not so secret sauce"

I might dance like a donkey, but I have other talents. I'm as stubborn as a mule! I never know when to give in. Sometimes it is an affliction because I carry on trying to make lost causes work. However, this time my inability to quit came up trumps. We kept on changing things and eventually we stumbled on the "Not so secret sauce". It was obvious really, but like most obvious things it took us ages to figure out.

Why it works

You can call it what you want, but only the recipient gets to decide if is feedback or an attack.

Are you giving feedback or verbal abuse?

It is a natural instinct to defend ourselves when attacked, and unfortunately, when one person gives another person feedback, the recipient can easily interpret that as an attack and then start defending themselves. If perceived as an attack, the response to this can be denying there is a problem, ignoring the attacker or launching a (hopefully verbal) counter attack.

You don't attack yourself

When Call agents objectively listen to and evaluate their calls, if they find an issue, they don't get defensive. It is this looking at the call and their actions and seeing the real picture without being defensive that is the key to progress. Paying attention to the call without any defensive responses makes them analyse their call handling skills in detail, and it motivates them to make the changes needed to improve those skills.

The revolving circle each call centre needs

Call agents finally realise what they are doing wrong and start being less defensive. This realisation leads to them changing their habits and seeking ways to improve their call handling skills. Agents realize that they are improving and become happier and because they are happier than they were they continue seeking to improve. That is the revolving circle each Contact center needs.

Circular graph divided on four parts which are connected with a repeat sign, showing the steps to constant improvement of call agents' call handling skills, starting from identify, then learn, then adapt, and then improve

It works for us, will it work for you?

You have two options to make your call centre function efficiently:

Option One: Manual

I've just described above how I did it, so it is feasible to build your own system. This option will take a lot of time, effort and money. Once finished you will also need to have a software engineer available to maintain it.

Option Two: bebexs

Creating bebexs has taken a lot of time, effort and money. So, of course, we are going to charge you for it, but it will cost you only a fraction of its development cost.

bebexs, a call evaluation system

bebexs enables you to quickly set up an effective quality assurance system in a Contact center. bebexs encourages Agents to recognise areas of their call handling that need improving and to seek to improve them. The bebexs call evaluation software is cloud-based and delivered as a service, avoiding a large upfront investment and painful hardware and software implementation.

What is Quality assurance in a call centre?

Quality assurance (QA) is a call centre quality monitoring practice Contact centers follow to achieve and maintain regulatory compliance, and ensure that the services it delivers meet the standards set by the management. QA practices themselves should also be continuously monitored and optimized.

Why quality assurance is important in a call centre?

In addition to achieving and maintaining regulatory compliance and checking your agents consistently, meet the standards set by management. A well designed QA system will improve the service your team provides and increase the efficiency of your Contact center.

Bespoke call scoring evaluation forms

bebexs allows you to create bespoke evaluation forms; easily tailor the questionnaires to align with your vision for your call centre and the rules you would like your Agents to follow.

What is call evaluation?

Call evaluation is the assessment of a call against previously set criteria. Usually done by answering questions about the call, i.e. Did the Agent greet the caller correctly? Questions should be answered objectively and without personal bias.

What is call scoring?

Call scoring is a way of converting the answers on an evaluation form into a score. This score is then used to measure an Agent's performance against a uniform standard.

Improve Call agents’ performance

Regular evaluation of calls enables the easy identification of any Call handling skills that need improving.

An Agent should themselves be spotting what they need to work on and improve, and because the Agent themselves are identifying the problem, they should be more receptive to further training and coaching.

Improve Customers’ satisfaction

It is easier to manage what you measure, once you identify and rectify Call handling issues. Your Agents will politely solve customers problems faster. The better the customer service, the more satisfied the customers shall be, the number of their complaints will go down, and their recommendations shall go up.

The steps to improve agent's call handling skills represented with smiley faces, starting from agent identifying mistakes, then agents seeking solution, then agents improving skill level, then agents becoming happy, which leads to happy customers and happy management

Easily assess each call with just one click

An infographic representing road signs on which point the direction to improving call handling skills, one direction is with small regular corrections and the other is with occasional big corrections.

bebexs allows to use the evaluation scorecards straight after the call has been made.

The evaluator clicks one button, the phone immediately rings, and the call recording played into the phone. At the same time, bebexs displays the questionnaire on your screen.

Identify and rectify mistakes as soon as they are made

Why wait for a yearly or quarterly appraisal to tackle a problem? The ability to evaluate calls straight after the call has ended, enables you to rectify and stop agents repeating mistakes immediately.

Calibration, If you want to be the best, and you want to beat the rest,
Calibration's what you need!

Apologies to Roy Castle, I couldn't resist. One of the key aspects of the bebexs system is that the majority of the evaluations are self-evaluations done by the individual Agents. So each day a percentage of an Agents calls are automatically assigned to themselves to evaluate. At the same time, their supervisor also gets a percentage of these calls for calibration purposes. Further, the Supervisor's Manager receives a percentage of Supervisors’ assessments to calibrate and a percentage of the Manager's assessments goes to their Boss and on it goes up to the top.

Leveraging the MD's time

bebexs call evaluation system enables an MD to easily compare their evaluations with any other evaluation of the same call. This comparison is a powerful way to leverage the MD's time. Nobody wants yet another meeting but imagine a Calibration meeting where you discuss scoring differences. Suddenly everybody is tapping to the same beat and evaluating calls the same way as the MD. Uniformity and consistency in assessments lead to consistency in the quality of the call handling skills.

Everything changes

Once Agents see the benefit of self-evaluation and the discussion is only over calibration, and the comparison of evaluations, the Call agents attitude towards the job will change. They shall:

  • start feeling more positive
  • be comfortable in doing their job right
  • embrace feedback and change
  • constantly improve and become better
  • dramatically improve their call handling skills
  • deliver higher quality outcomes to customers

The road we took wasn’t easy or cheap at all, but we’ve made it! Now we are offering bebexs to you for a fraction of the cost and with the whole experience on how to use it best. Take the chance and make your customers happy by improving your call agents’ performance.

A red stamp guaranteeing a risk-free 100% refund within two months