Monitoring Agents Can Improve Performance

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Telemarketing professionals must deal with challenges regarding quality assurance monitoring. When you monitor, it is just a snapshot in time and you really have no way of knowing how well or how poorly an agent is performing the 99 percent of the time when you are not listening to him.

All you can do is assess the small amount of time when you listen and extrapolate how well you think that agent is performing. The goal of any quality assurance program should be to assess and improve agent performance.

How do you do that?

Quality assurance monitoring can be performed three different ways: listening to recorded calls and scoring performance; live blind monitoring with no verbal feedback to a supervisor or a host; and a hosted session where someone at the center level facilitates the process.

This last scenario is a crucial component of performance enhancement. Using blind monitoring or recorded monitoring is a great way to assess ongoing performance and is an efficient method to assess large numbers of agents. However, it is important to mix in live-hosted sessions to teach people at the center level how you want them to baby-sit your program.

To quote Tip O'Neill, former speaker of the House of Representatives, all politics is local. The same is true in a call center. The person who can make a difference in quality and performance is not a quality assurance coach sitting in another center. The job of a quality coach is to gather data, perform an assessment, deliver that assessment to the center, and, most importantly, deliver this information in a way that enables and empowers the person at the center to effect change.

The other important component in this equation is accountability. In order to perform this function effectively, a quality coach must have access to an agent's previous performance. Without this information available at the quality coach's fingertips, the monitoring function occurs in a vacuum. The feedback given to the advocate at the center must contain a benchmark or a reference point of how this agent has performed in past monitoring sessions. Without this information, it is impossible to track quality and performance improvements.

The other key component is an extension of the accountability factor, and that is having data available from all parties who are monitoring to facilitate the calibration and collaboration of data. In most quality initiatives, many people monitor a program, from an outside quality assurance firm to supervisors on the floor. Many times there can be as many as four or five different groups of people monitoring the same program, and they may be using different scoring criteria and providing different or contradictory feedback. It is crucial that all interested parties use a central repository to enter and retrieve data so that consistent, usable information is communicated back to the center.

• Daniel Berman is president of TBC Consulting Group, Atlanta, a consulting firm specializing in Web-based quality-assurance monitoring, scripting and training services and motivational speaking.

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