It’s Time to Replace Traditional Contact Center Quality Assurance

Contact center quality assurance (QA), also known as quality management, has been around for more than 40 years. The concept and practice of QA is great: using actual agent conversations or written communications to evaluate agents' performance and provide timely and actionable feedback. The idea has always been to provide positive and constructive guidance, but unfortunately, QA programs often concentrate on recommendations for improvement. This is because most QA programs lack the resources to do anything but the basics, and in too many cases, the people who review the interactions and provide feedback have not been properly trained.

When QA was the best way (and in many cases, the only way) to gain an understanding of what was happening in the contact center, some feedback was better than nothing. The primary goal of QA was to improve the service experience; another very important benefit of QA was being able to determine the reasons why customers were reaching out to an organization. Again, a great concept, but in too many situations the QA team was not positioned for success because it did not have access to share insights with appropriate contact center managers or enterprise executives.

There is a Better Way

Not a lot has changed in the traditional QA process during the past 40 years. The technology has improved, and is a lot easier to use. Applications are used by QA specialists to listen to conversations, read text-based interactions, and grade agents, but the process is performed essentially the same way it was 40 years ago. The main obstacle to progress is that if QA is done the traditional way, few companies can afford the resources to properly staff this function, whether they handle millions or just thousands of interactions. Many companies are reorganizing their QA functions to cut resources and costs instead of rethinking the function.

It's time for this to change. With few exceptions, all companies should perform QA. QA is a stand-alone function, or if a company is highly innovative, it is an input into the customer journey analysis process. The future of this process is analytics-enabled QA (AQA). Speech analytics is used to listen to/read customer interactions, evaluate the interaction, and provide feedback to the enterprise (general trends) and agents (what they are doing right and where they can improve).

I've talked about this concept for more than 12 years, but the idea has not caught on, even though it has a payback and will improve the customer and agent experience. When speech analytics first entered the commercial market in 2003, it was not ready for AQA, but it is today. The speech analytics market has matured a great deal in the past three years, and AQA is viable for companies that are reimagining how they interact with customers and prospects. Of course, speech analytics should still be used on a real-time and historical basis, but one of the outputs should be AQA, and this can and should happen as companies rethink their service experience. AQA will provide substantial benefits to contact centers, but this solution should also become an essential contributor to the customer journey analysis process.

Innovative companies are reconsidering most aspects of their service experience, and some are beginning to appreciate that customer service is a company-wide responsibility. Too many companies wrongly believe that service quality is about what a company wants to do for their customers; instead it should be about what customers want.

Enterprises need a new generation of systems and applications, many of which will be artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled, to thrive in this era of the personalized customer journey. DMG encourages companies to break down entrenched barriers between departments and think more broadly about the uses of solutions like speech analytics and AQA. They must make investments in these technologies to position their contact centers, as well as many other departments in their company, for success during the next five to 10 years.

Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, is an expert on contact centers, analytics, and back-office technology. She has 30 years of experience helping organizations build contact centers and back-office operating environments and assisting vendors to deliver competitive solutions. She can be reached at

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