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Managing Quality with a Work from Anywhere Workforce

by Darren Rushworth

When COVID-19 first necessitated a work-from-anywhere approach, most contact centres were concerned with the basics: connecting remote contact centre agents to essential systems; redirecting customers to digital channels to lighten the load on contact centre agents; and trying to deliver a consistent experience under the circumstances.

Now that these elements are mostly in place, the next step is to examine quality control mechanisms that ensures an unswerving customer experience. Companies are asking whether they have the right solution for the future; can they deliver the same or better experiences compared with before COVID-19? Customer churn and customer acquisition are two key metrics that will define the answer. In most cases, stopgap measures have left significant gaps, including ensuring quality.

Identifying the gaps in quality control Historically, quality was managed in two ways. Agents were provided with scripts, knowledge bases, and/or guidance on how to handle calls. And, supervisors and team leaders would roam around, listening to calls and providing on-the-floor guidance and escalation. These supervisors would also listen to live and recorded calls for coaching and compliance purposes.

Typically, the ratio of team leaders or quality managers to agents is 1:12 or even 1:15 or higher. This means managers can listen to approximately two percent of calls at most. This was due to the time it took for leaders to sit and listen to the calls, provide feedback, and still be available for escalation.

Because team leaders could only listen to a tiny proportion of calls, it was difficult to get a genuine picture of how each agent was performing because agents could be struggling in specific areas. The calls that were heard may have been outliers in which agents performed particularly well or particularly poorly, however didn’t represent their overall performance and productivity. Conversely, agents may seem to be performing flawlessly even though there are areas ripe for potential improvement that are missed by team leaders.

And, because the team leader is just one person listening to the calls, their reports could be subjective. With a small sample size and a tedious, manual process required to analyse the quality of interactions, many organisations were missing the full picture. In many organisations, the digital interactions such as live chat or email weren’t included in quality reviews at all. By missing out on key channels for review, contact centres risk failing to provide a consistent experience for customers. Multichannel quality management is crucial because customers are using various channels across their interactions with the business.

A new quality imperative takes hold When agents transitioned to working from anywhere, the traditional approaches to quality management were no longer viable. Team leaders couldn’t provide on-the-spot advice to remote agents. High demand often meant that they were redeployed to answer customer calls instead of managing teams and coaching. Visibility into agent performance, already relatively low, dwindled to almost nothing.

And, in a working environment where trainers and supervisors can’t physically see and assist agents, maintaining quality processes becomes trickier and more important at the same time. Contact centres must tightly control quality or risk compromising the customer experience, diluting brand value and customer loyalty.

How technology can help The solution is to use smart technology to close these gaps and deliver a quality process that maps to the work from anywhere reality. There are various technologies that can help manage and improve quality processes in contact centres.

1. Artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics With an AI-driven tool that uses speech recognition technology, team leaders and supervisors can gain insights from 100 percent of calls instead of two percent that can be listened to. The same AI technology can be applied to any digital interactions that occur whether it be email, chat, social messaging or even chatbot. This changes the quality game entirely; analytics-driven quality means two things: you can listen to all conversations without the human effort required to bring about key improvement areas targeted to each agent. Each agent can be assessed on their merits and the entirety of their performance. This makes it easier to identify areas for improvement and reward top performers.

An AI system can measure interactions objectively and provide insights on behaviours. Some recent data analytics systems can even provide insights into behaviours and soft skills like empathy and flexibility, which was beyond the AI horizon before. Scoring these interactions for accurate insights turns data into useful, actionable information.

2. Digital twins Human-to-machine interactions are becoming more common and more enriched. Providing customers with a realistic and compelling interaction with machines is key to providing excellent self-service and bot-driven experiences.

Digital twins like NEVA (NICE Employee Virtual Assistant) can provide real-time, contextual guidance for employees on their desktops, help them adapt to new guidelines and policies rapidly, deliver on-screen training, compile relevant information for each call, and speed up the call wrap-up activities including automated call notes and after-call tasks. Digital twins can also be used to drive compliance through actions such as recording agents’ screens. This lets supervisors ensure agents are working according to quality processes.

3. Workforce management analytics Using data analytics, contact centre supervisors can determine which agents are most effective at what time of day, for example, and schedule them to work accordingly. Or, they can schedule agents with the right persona for the types of customers they’ll likely be dealing with. For example, if cancellations are likely, then the contact centre can schedule agents who are excellent at retention.

The role of quality in delivering strong customer experiences The most impactful competitive differentiator at any organisation’s disposal is a consistently strong positive customer experience. The only way to ensure this is to put stringent quality controls in place.

For example, by monitoring 100 percent of interactions, managers can see who’s performing well, who needs coaching, and how to avoid unnecessary escalation. This can become more important as contact centres increasingly rely on people who have been redeployed to contact centre roles.

The need to bring contact centres onshore in light of COVID-19 has created a huge spike in demand for staff in many contact centres. This means people in the organisation with other roles may be temporarily assigned to answer customer calls. Quality control becomes even more important in these scenarios to support these new, usually inexperienced agents to deliver a strong customer experience.

Discover how your contact centre can Work From Anywhere With better technology in place, agents can be more productive, which ultimately delivers a better customer experience. Managing quality when agents work from anywhere is absolutely essential. With the right technology, quality can become a competitive differentiator. To find out how NICE contact centre solutions can help your organisation #WorkFromAnywhere and improve quality and customer experience, contact us today at

Darren Rushworth Darren Rushworth has served as the president of NICE Asia Pacific since 2017. He is responsible for complete field operations with focus on the region's sales, marketing and customer services. Darren's career spans over 30 years in the IT industry, with the past 21 years spent in the Asia Pacific Region. He therefore brings significant experience in enterprise sales, country management, and business operations. Prior to joining NICE, Darren was managing director of Singapore for SAP Asia Pacific where he increased SAP's market share by delivering double-digit growth in ERP and cloud sales. He also was instrumental in improving customer and employee satisfaction and elevating SAP to become one of Glassdoor's Top 5 Great Places to Work.

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