If you want your call center to provide the best possible service (and why wouldn’t you?), quality assurance is the best way to make that happen. QA is a very important component of customer satisfaction across industries. But, while some things are easy to rate, what do you do about more subjective things like customer interactions? And how do you standardize the level of service that customers get no matter which of your agents they find on the other end of their inquiry?
Two words: call calibration.
In this guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about call calibration: what it is, why it matters, and how to do it to keep your customers—and call center agents—happy.
What Is Call Calibration?
Calibration is a way to establish and define expectations so you can make sure they’re being met. As your team grows, it can get harder and harder to ensure consistent performance across agents, and calibration can help you stay closer to your standards.
In a call center setting, calibration involves getting a team together to review calls based on a standard set of expectations about what a quality customer interaction looks like (or doesn’t look like). The purpose of having a team of people conduct these reviews is so inconsistencies in ratings and scoring can be identified and discussed.
This process, in turn, helps keep your expectations standardized so all agents understand what qualifies as a quality customer interaction. Plus, it helps ensure that call ratings are consistent even if your standards change.
What’s So Important About Call Calibration?
Call calibration is a valuable process for your call center. Let’s take a look at five ways call calibration can help your agents deliver high-quality customer interactions that will keep your customers satisfied.
Benefits of Call Calibration
- Establish a process
- Define quality standards
- Ensure consistency and fairness
- Provide Feedback
- Refine and refocus your training
Establish a Process:
Call calibration helps you set up a scalable and repeatable process for quality assurance that you can use even if your performance standards change.
Define Quality Standards:
You’ll be able to ensure that your agents, team leads, supervisors, and managers are all scoring calls from the same set of standards. When you know what your standards are, it’s a lot easier to share and enforce those standards throughout your organization.
Ensure Consistency and Fairness:
Call calibration means consistent feedback—no matter who in your company is providing that feedback. Plus, it reduces the potential for bias and favoritism in QA and ensures that calls are reviewed objectively.
Call calibration also gives reviewers the chance to leave comments to provide actionable feedback for agents.
Refine and Refocus Your Training:
One of the most lasting benefits of call calibration is that you’ll be able to use the results to refine your agent training and seen improvements faster.
What Are Calibration Sessions?
Calibration sessions aren’t specific to call centers but are a common human resources practice across industries. They are meetings between supervisors and managers and a representative from human resources in which managers work to apply the evaluation standards fairly across all employees. This effectively neutralizes the effect of managers who are considered “tough graders” and those considered “easy graders” in the performance review process, according to performance management consultant Dick Grote.
In calibration sessions, managers share preliminary performance reviews along with their proposed ratings. This preliminary information will then be reviewed and discussed by the other managers in the department. During discussion, ratings will be adjusted for accuracy and consistency before final performance reviews and ratings are prepared.
A facilitator, likely the human resources representative, should make sure that managers have data to back up their ratings instead of relying on feelings or how they view an employee or situation. Managers are expected and encouraged to question ratings and ask why certain ratings were given.
Grote says that this process makes it easier for managers to give honest and accurate performance reviews and ratings for both positive and negative reviews.
How to Do Call Calibration for Quality Assurance
By now, you should have a much better understanding of call calibration, calibration sessions, and the benefits of adopting a call calibration process instead of the standard quality assurance process that you’re probably using.
But you may be wondering how you can get started implementing call calibration. And, how do you keep supervisors accountable for using the calibrated QA ratings when reviewing call performance with agents?
Well, you’re in luck. In this section, we’re going to share a step-by-step process you can follow to incorporate call calibration and calibration sessions into your quality assurance process.
Call Calibration: How To Do It
- Build a Calibration Process
- Establish a Baseline
- Identify a Facilitator
- Implement Agent Self-Scoring
- Put the Data to Work
- Perform Call Calibration Regularly
Step 1: Build a Calibration Process
Before you can start implementing call calibration for QA, you need to establish a process. There are three basic ways to approach this. First, you could have reviewers review calls separately and then discuss them together. Second, you could have reviewers review and discuss calls together. Third, and this is our favorite, you could have reviewers and agents come together to review and discuss calls.
We love this third option because it’s entirely transparent and allows your team to see the review process in action. Plus, they can ask questions and express their concerns about the feedback or even share additional context in the event that reviewers don’t agree on a rating.
Step 2: Establish a Baseline
Your baseline is how much your company allows for differences in reviewer ratings. The average across call calibration for QA is about 5% to allow for minor fluctuations without missing the big discrepancies. If the differences in ratings are below the baseline, your ratings are good to go. If not, you need to move forward with additional discussion.
Step 3: Identify a Facilitator
Call calibrations and quality assurance are important and deserve time and attention. They also need someone to step up who is willing to be responsible for coordinating the efforts.
Facilitators will be the ones who keep the meeting moving. They act as the final decision-maker in the event of irreconcilable opinions. They also need to be understanding and well-versed in each step of the process.
To ensure that your facilitators know what to do, you’ll need to create guidelines for them to follow. This might mean spending some time thinking of different situations that could come up during call calibration sessions and document how to move through those situations.
It’s also a great practice to have facilitators take turns to share the responsibility and stay fully engaged in the process. This also helps solidify your QA standards since reviewers will all be able to have a turn at facilitating and will witness firsthand how important it is to ensure consistent and fair ratings.
Step 4: Implement Agent Self-Scoring
We also encourage you to implement self-scoring for your agents and not leave them out of your call calibration process. Agents will be able to analyze their performance from an emotional distance and help them provide better customer service.
Too often, coaching and training are something put together and applied without any input at all from the people on the receiving end of the coaching and training. When you give your agents the opportunity to participate in the call calibration process, your managers can get a much better understanding of what it’s like for agents who are taking calls all day. This can really inform your company’s approach to feedback and training.
Step 5: Put the Data to Work
After your call calibration sessions, it’s time to decide what to do with the data you have. Don’t just file it away or you’ll never get the benefits of the work you’re putting into this process.
The data gives you a chance to review and refine your process and give feedback to the reviewers themselves. It’s also a great tool to help you refine your call QA scorecard.
The most important thing is that you use the results to make improvements in your call center.
Step 6: Perform Call Calibration Regularly
Finally, to get the most benefit from call calibration, you should be doing it regularly to identify opportunities for improvement. We recommend making call calibration sessions a weekly occurrence so you can stay on top of trends and make adjustments quickly to eliminate confusion around any company or product changes and expectations or identify any potential damage being done from an agent who might not be performing as well as they could.
Calibration Sessions: Quality Assurance Best Practices
Now that you have a call calibration structure in place for quality assurance, let’s explore some best practices that will make your process even better.
Calibrations Sessions: Best Practices
- Create a scorecard
- Follow-up on previous feedback
- Save examples of best practice calls
- Examine the outliers
- Focus on customer outcomes
- Incentivize best practices
- Don’t use call calibration as a “gotcha”
- Leverage software to gain better insights
Create a Scorecard:
Document exactly what you’re monitoring and why it’s important to your business.
Follow-Up on Previous Feedback:
Don’t make this a one-and-done. Follow up with agents about the feedback they’ve been given to clarify their understanding and ensure that the feedback is having an impact.
Save Examples of Best Practice Calls:
Save the calls that highlight what you want to embrace as best practices for your call center and use them for training.
Examine the Outliers:
Don’t just focus on calls that fall within your average call handling times. You can learn a lot from the ultra-short calls, calls with longer handle times or multiple holds, transferred calls, and calls that have been escalated.
Focus on Customer Outcomes:
While it’s important to make sure that agents are meeting the basic call expectations and meeting established standards, don’t limit your call calibration to that. It’s also important to look at how agents are contributing to customer experience and satisfaction.
Incentivize Best Practices:
Agents need to understand why call calibration matters and believe in the metrics on which they’ll be judged.
Don’t Use Call Calibration as a “Gotcha”:
Call calibration shouldn’t be used to catch poor performers being poor performers. Instead, you could randomize your call selection and even get agents themselves to analyze calls on a rotating basis. Plus, get your agents involved in the call calibration process to keep them interested and engaged in the process.
Leverage Software to Automate and Get Better Insights:
The right QA tool can save you tons of time and energy. It provides a central location for your data, helps you choose random calls, and, if you use Voxjar, can even see everything your agents and customers are saying, identify your high-performing agents, and track how customers are responding.
Improve Your Call Center With Call Calibration
Call calibration is a critical piece of QA that can help you better understand how agents are interacting with customers, provide feedback to those agents who are performing well or need adjustments and keep your quality standards at the forefront of your call center team’s mind.
Voxjar would love to help you get started. Contact us for a demo and find out how our QA tools can get your call center to offer a consistent, positive customer experience with every single call and help you reduce churn, grow your bottom line, and drive loyalty.