I like the word “renaissance.” To me, it conjures up thoughts of something refined, elegant and important. The Renaissance period in Europe, which occurred from the 14th to the 17th centuries, was certainly an important era in world history. The Renaissance was a time of cultural growth and widespread, renewed interest in such disciplines as philosophy, art, politics, literature, science and architecture. The Renaissance period was essentially the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages and what historians today refer to as the modern age. The invention of movable metal type for the creation of books, letters and other scholarly works meant that the influence of the Renaissance and the changes in European cultural life could easily be shared beyond the borders of any particular country or geographical region.
The word renaissance literally means “rebirth” in French and it didn’t actually appear in English literature until the 1830s. Today, the word renaissance usually refers to the revival of, or renewed interest in, something. During the Renaissance period in history, the revival and rebirth was all about a cultural reawakening and an age of discovery and scholarship. Some historians refer to the Renaissance period as the Age of Enlightenment.
Today’s contact center industry is undergoing something of a renaissance of its own, driven largely by renewed interest in classic, well-established solutions that are ubiquitous throughout the industry. Similar to the way the Renaissance period bridged the Middle Ages and the modern era, the contact center renaissance is bridging the customer service age to the customer experience era and the employee relations age to the employee engagement era. Sort of our own Age of Enlightenment; and leading the contact center renaissance is quality management.
Quality management (QM) solutions lead the North American market in terms of market penetration. Results of the Saddletree Research 2018 survey of contact center professionals, undertaken in conjunction with the National Association of Call Centers (NACC) at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), reveals that 92% of North American contact centers currently use quality management with the remaining 8% stating that they intended to evaluate quality management for purchase this year. Survey results are representative of the industry as a whole with a 95% confidence level and a 3.6% margin of error.
Most interesting about these quality management survey results is that 12% of those currently using quality management solutions intend to upgrade or replace their QM system during 2018. When added to the 8% of the market that will be evaluating QM for purchase, it represents significant turnover in QM this year. In terms of real numbers, our estimation is approximately 14,000 contact centers that will replace or make their initial acquisition of QM in 2018.
What we believe is driving this renewed interest, or renaissance, if you will, in QM is an industry focus on employee engagement that is driving the majority of operational changes in the contact center. The new generation of workers—the millennial generation—has a clearly defined set of expectations for the workplace and it is quickly becoming clear that quality management is having to change in order to meet those expectations.
Among the things we know about millennial worker expectations is a desire to feel connected and enthusiastic about their job. The new generation of workers look for a collaborative approach to work and instant gratification when a job is well done. They expect an open and honest relationship with management and they want a clearly defined path for reaching their career goals.
The old school approach to QM, where a supervisor may review and score one randomly selected call out of hundreds of calls an agent has handled, is not going to cut it with the new generation of workers, who now represent the majority of the U.S. workforce. According to Matthew Storm, Director of Product Marketing at OpenText Qfiniti, “Random coaching delivers random results. Traditional scorecards and subsequent coaching processes are inherently flawed by inadequate sample sizes and lack of insight into past performance. They rarely include customer feedback and often frustrate staff by not clearly prescribing what behaviors need to change to impact the customer experience. The way to improve the employee, evaluator and coaching experience is to introduce speech analytics and customer surveys into QM.”
I’ve always been a big fan and tireless promoter of analytics in the contact center but many customer service professionals still think of analytics as a customer experience solution. While this is true, analytics has a strong role to play in the QM renaissance.
“Today’s contact center employees deserve to be coached with a game-plan to drive results, not subjected to cherry-picking that represents a snapshot of their performance,” continued Storm. “An analytics-driven approach to QM monitors every customer experience and allows companies to quantify skills proficiency, script adherence, customer satisfaction and even score an agent’s ability to sell—for ALL interactions, not just a few.”
Clearly, evaluating and scoring all of an agent’s calls makes infinitely more sense than scoring one randomly selected call but beyond that, evaluating all calls dovetails nicely with the expectations of the new generation of contact center workers. This collaborative approach to coaching not only goes far in terms of career guidance, it fosters a more open and honest relationship with management and, let’s face it, it’s just more fair than old school coaching.
“Even with the best of intentions, traditional QM approaches are designed to find more fault than praise. At OpenText, we take a radical new evaluation scorecard approach to help organizations link customer feedback to coaching, leverage historical employee performance data to the fullest, and bring analytical insights not just to the boardroom, but also to your frontline agents,” said Storm.
As the millennial generation of workers continues to make their mark on the contact center industry, expect to see a myriad of changes. The majority of these changes will be targeted primarily toward the evolution of management strategies and tactics so that they are more representative of the modern contact center. Changes in QM strategies will have a far-reaching impact on the contact center and on employee engagement, career development, and job satisfaction. Led by analytics-driven evaluations, quality management is poised to spearhead the contact center renaissance.