Customer Service Advice

Monitoring Phone Calls to Improve Customer Service

Monitoring phone calls to improve customer service is an age-old practice, but improving customer service interactions by listening to calls requires a plan.

Evaluating the effectiveness of your customer service department isn't easy.

Monitoring Phone Calls to Improve Customer Service

Unlike your sales department, there are few, if any objective benchmarks that indicate call center success. Call monitoring might be the best evaluation tool you have . . . If your business is prepared to deal with the multitude of issues it entails.

Call center monitoring is becoming increasingly commonplace in customer service environments. Whenever you hear the words, "This call may be monitored . . . ", you know that someone has seen enough to convince them that monitoring can improve the quality of their relationship with their customers. But improvement is not automatic. Several critical questions need to be addressed before you can even think about seeing any results.

How will monitoring be achieved?

You essentially have two choices when it comes to deciding how you will monitor customer service calls: In-house monitoring or a third-party provider. To monitor calls in-house, you will need to purchase software and monitoring equipment, and then designate someone to do the job. Since the set-up costs of in-house monitoring can run $100,000 or more, most call centers use a third-party provider. Working via an internet connection, third-party monitors can listen to calls and remotely observe the customer service rep's computer screen. The cost of third-party monitoring runs somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 a call - not cheap, but a lot less expensive than setting up your own system.

How often will calls be monitored?

It's unrealistic to try and monitor every single call that comes through your call center. Instead, your goal should be to monitor a random, representative sample of each employee's calls. Third-party providers are more than willing to make recommendations based on your goals and business size, but ten calls a month for each employee is usually enough to provide a solid basis for evaluation.

What will you do with the data you gather?

Monitoring for the sake of monitoring is a waste of time and money. To achieve results, you need to have a plan for what you will do with the information you gather through the monitoring process. Ideally, management should routinely review call transcripts and audio recordings in addition to the ratings provided by the third-party monitor. These transcripts can then be used as real world examples in customer service training sessions and can be retained for consideration at the time of the individual employee's annual review. In many cases, the third-part providers themselves are willing to facilitate training sessions based on the results of their monitoring efforts.

Are you prepared for what you may find?

Many business owners are disappointed, if not distraught, over what they find when they initiate a monitoring program in their call center. Even if you think your call center is top notch, be prepared to discover glaring mistakes and occasional bad attitudes emanating from your customer service staff. But no matter how bad it seems, just keep in mind that monitoring is only the first step toward creating a customer service department you can be proud of.

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