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Quality vs Quantity in Customer Service - How do you strike a balance?

Author johnny458
#1 | Posted: 30 Jan 2010 14:27 
A good part of my responsibility requires me to suggest to the management ways to improve productivity and efficiency of the customer service team by providing them with knowledge about process and products. Because of this requirement, I spend a lot of time with the Customer Service Team in order to understand what they need so that, by providing them with the adequate support tools, like an efficient knowledge base, the team can perform better.

However, as I began getting more and more involved with the team, I began to realize that there was a total lack of efficiency because they were not following even the basic rules of customer service. One of the reasons for this is due to the heavy workload the agents were facing and also because over half of them were new to the job. And they lack proper training. The other problem is that their Team Lead is not too concerned about the Quality. Instead, he just wants to meet the "Numbers" by any means. His take on this whole thing is that "Numbers are more important than Quality". There was another colleague who compared this situation to that of a group of people running in front of a huge boulder - if they slowed down, the boulder would go over them. The "boulder" in this case, was the number of calls and the group of people was the Customer Service Team! So he too, wasn't too bothered about the quality. He just wanted them to keep running!

However they know it as well as I do that, by not focusing on quality and trying to do things by not following clearly laid out procedures, is only getting the team deeper and deeper into trouble. In other words, how long can you keep running in front of the boulder? You are going to run out of breath sooner than later!

My point of view was and still is very simple - I strongly believe that if we take care of Quality and follow existing Procedures, the Numbers will take care of themselves. Any thoughts? What's the best way to strike a balance between quality and quantity? Which is more important?

Author RyanS
#2 | Posted: 1 Feb 2010 16:28 
When it comes to customer service, quality always ranks #1 over quantity. There is nothing wrong with making a department or process more efficient but when that efficiency comes at the cost of a decline in customer satisfaction or experience you are losing far more in the long run (think life time value of a customer) in order to achieve short term gains.

Since the Team Lead is so focused on the "numbers" I would make quality a part of their numbers. There are a lot of metics in customer service that can be analyzed to make a good "quality" scorecard. If your team already feels like a boulder is chasing after them, putting a "quality" cloud over them on top of it will most likely cause the boulder to crush them. I dont have any idea what type of cust srvc reps you have or their experience and education level but you may consider giving them some personal development training as well as customer service and product training. Hold some courses on prioritizing, goal setting, organization. Also maybe some of your other "quantity" goals need to be adjusted to make room for some of your "quality" goals, this will help eliminate some of the initial burden on your staff members.

In order to achieve the desired quality level you must have good systems in place. All the smiles in the world dont mean anything if there isn't good systems to back it up and deliver. All of these systems should be customer focused versus company focused. Ask your self about every system, does this provide the best experience for the customer, solving the question or problem in the fastest manner? If not, better change it,---quick! From what it sounds like you have a good start on this already. Also one of the best ways to improve front line operations is to simply ask the people that work there everyday. I can guarantee you each one of your csr's can give you atleast one tip on how to improve something whether that would be in your customer experience or departmental efficiency. A lot of frontline employees never bother to say anything because they dont feel like they will be taken seriously or they will be viewed as "complainers " so it is essential to have open communication.

Hope this helps.

Author richardnugent
#3 | Posted: 14 Apr 2010 06:47 
Out of the clients I have worked with, Lego's service centre seem to have this most right. One of the keys seems to be the simple calls per hour measure.

If a Call Centre is serious about quality this figure should be a reflection of how many calls an hour an agent can do while giving great quality. Too many times CPH is decided by how many calls are 'in the queue'.

Remember agents are there to 'love the one they are with' not manage call queues.

Author yan_dj
#4 | Posted: 19 Sep 2010 01:18 
as ma opinion quality is the best creature for our company.Quality is one of the way out of customer's service either..quality can b a leader of all for running our business b4 customer's service....

Quality is a reflection of our company.

Author sherriwhite10
#5 | Posted: 27 Oct 2010 03:14 
Quality will always have the upper hand in customer service or in any other field. If you want a customer to return to you the second time, you have to be patient, be a good communicator. These things require time and hence even if the quantity is low, one gets the desired result.


Author smccann
#6 | Posted: 28 Oct 2010 13:47 
Completely agree with the others, it is only about quality. I found that many of the problems for my c/s dept stemmed from other areas of the company not understanding the impact their decisions had on c/s. The silos had to go! Once we were quoting a more accurate delivery, giving the warehouse proper processing time, and dramatically increasing our shipping time, much of the call volume dropped and the calls received were much less volatile. Quality is something c/s backs up for the company. If the overall quality of the company and their offerings are not to the same standard you are looking for in c/s then other departments must get on board for c/s to achieve the goals you are looking for.

Author raevans
#7 | Posted: 17 Jan 2011 12:19 
I would agree in quality but there is also a fine balance between quality and quantity. If handle time is extreme it in turn leads to larger staff requirements which can be an equal drain on your business.

If the lead is so concerned with numbers have you considered a quality assurance measure by which calls are recorded or listened to and scored? You can take your fundamentals and assign a base score of 100 to those.

The reality of the situation may be that your lead measures his performance on metrics and is not hugely concerned with the intangibles. A pat on the back for phone calls getting better may make him warm and fuzzy but having a solid number to stand on may make him / her feel more accomplished.

By creating some numerical system around quality you may in turn focus the lead on the right path and be able to manage handle time and quality.

Author sjadams
#8 | Posted: 3 Oct 2011 16:07 
Im currently in the role of project manager working across c/s areas to assist in streamlining processes and recognising gaps etc. Im currently working on standardising call assessment/coaching and reporting on 'what really counts' customer experience. Has anyone ideas on reporting or assessing on quality?
What kind of KPIS are you setting? What information are you reporting back to individuals.

Author savvy
#9 | Posted: 14 Oct 2011 09:27 
If you have good quality calls then you won't have return callers (generally). Aim for a first call resolution. IF CSR's are just trying to get through the queue then chances are they are only doing half of their job.

One way to help them improve is by setting a base standard. Essentially work on a form that has what standards you want them to have...

For example

1. Does the rep sound bored?
2. Does the rep sound irritated/distracted?
3. Was the call handled appropriately?
4. Were there any silence times? (times the rep isn't talking nor the customer)
5. Did the agent keep control of the call flow?
6. Did the agent place the order properly (if orders are placed)

These can be refined, I was just trying to think off the top of my head, and as i'm not in phone support anymore it wasn't popping there quickly.

Honestly, if Im waiting in a queue to speak with a representative and the answer and do a half baked job, or mess up my order, or don't resolve my issue I am a very unhappy customer/ possible ex customer if I have a choice.

If Im waiting in queue, get answered and the rep is nice, knowledgable, and handles me as necessary then I will be a happy customer, even given the long wait time.

A smiling agent does not equal a smiling customer unless the agent knows what to do.

The best way to teach an old dog new tricks is by having them listen to their own call. play the call ask them how they felt they did. Many times they will be harder on themselves than you, if they care about customer service. Then go over the points they hit/missed. Explaining what could be done to do better.

Now I'm rambling on and will leave on that. Best of luck!

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 Quality vs Quantity in Customer Service - How do you strike a balance?

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