June 23, 2017

The “TONE” is the Message…Program to Enhance Customer Service Quality

Most companies put all their education (Notice I said Education…When we worked for MBNA before the BOA merger in the 2000’s they always said you TRAIN animals and EDUCATED people…that always stuck with me) in how to run a specific program, skill or channel. What to look for, what screen do you have to be on, who button do you have to click? They do NOT do a great job in facilitating tone and delight, empathy and engagement in their calls. Most companies want to educate as fast as they can so they can have reps producing as quickly as possible even to the detriment to their client or customer. Remember you need to understand in the age of social media your customers will talk to others. We want them to be evangelists for our brand. We need to understand that as we train.

If you truly want to have a world-class center this model needs to be flipped on its head.

Before I start there are some amazing tools that we utilize at Expivia.  We use advanced speech analytics that trend customer conversations.  We also can pull agent sentiment reports to see who really is creating a great customer experience.  We understand that most companies do not have this technology.  This will help those looking for a cost-effective way to enhance the customer experience.  The only thing this will cost you is the time it will take to implement.


A delight for me is that certain element that makes great customer service representatives. It’s the tone in the voice that wants to give quality; it’s an actual thought process as to truly wanting to assists that customer as if it was a family member they are helping. It’s a quality call flow process that meets a customer’s needs.

The great associates can tell a customer “NO” and still be thanked. Most are not born with this skill it but it can be educated into associates.

The first thing that you need to attack when looking to change the quality of your calls would be to listen to as many associates/calls you can, make no changes, just listen. It is OK to get frustrated. Remember this is the stuff we need to fix.

So many call center managers don’t monitor and many do not know what they are listening for (another topic for another day). You want to get a good feel for the different types of calls that you take and how your associates respond to these calls. This would include meeting with all call center middle management as well to get as much feedback as possible and to get them on board to understand how we are going to raise our quality standards.


What you need then to get started is after you understand your calls you break down each vertical by call flow. You would also want to know what your main goals to focus on are. Where are you weak, where do you need to focus the quality effort? Is it overall rep satisfaction, one-call resolution, length of call satisfaction, things of this nature?

Let’s say for our example we are having many associate complaints so we are looking to get our associate satisfaction scores to come up. I suggest you break down the call into segments and find out where you are having most of your complaints.

For Example:

  • Opening/Greeting
  • Verification
  • Issue handling
  • Resolving stage
  • Call to action
  • Upsell/cross-sell
  • Close


You would then come up with an education plan to train all of these areas separately from a DELIGHT standpoint. How are we greeting customers, are their specific words to use during the verification, how is our tone when we resolve their issue, are we empathic to their need no matter if it was out fault or not, do we know of lag times during calls where we MUST make small talk. Small talk is huge in engaging your customers if done well. How do we form a relationship quickly with each call? All these segments need to be educated so the rep understands how the customer should be treated during each segment.

Even if your calls are more free-flowing, you can always break them down to emphasize certain elements.

If you have major issues with quality and delight my suggestion is to be more specific with what an associate can say (more scripted) and make them focus solely on their tone. You all have heard it’s not what you say but how you say it. The better they get with the tone the more freedom they get to go off-script.


The associate tone is the number 1 factor (IMO) to a high-quality call center.

The next step would be to come up with a QA monitoring form to score all of our calls this way. You then do weekly benchmarking sessions to make sure your team understands the scoring method and are all on the same page. Your form should break down the segments and score each one from a delight factor. I like a 1-5 scoring but it doesn’t really matter as long as you score and you are benchmarked.


The last step is the one that will make a huge difference. You must make sure that you or your monitoring team is giving instant feedback to the supervisors and associates. All scored calls need to be sent directly to the floor from QA right after the call is scored, do not wait! Develop a simple rule as well to make sure that we all reps are heard in a certain period. Any rep that fails the minimal level of satisfaction on a call is pulled immediately and retrained on the specific areas that have the opportunity. This needs to be done in a positive way. They are also then re-monitored within a half-hour of going back on the phones. That is very important.

I am not a fan of recording calls on a certain day and then a day or two after talking to the associate. Instant feedback provides the greatest benefit. It’s a lot more work but it is very worth it. Don’t be lazy.


If quality is what is needed to be improved then you should post daily and weekly quality ranking in the center as well. You can do some daily team and weekly center motivations around this topic as well.

If you have a Net Promoter Score program (which is highly recommended) make sure your associates understand it and have it posted for their viewing.

This is the first thing that I would do in coming into a new center with quality issues. There are many other things that we can do to help with quality but this gets right to the heart of how you can begin to educate your associates and “fix” your center.

Hope this helps!

For more information on Customer Service Quality or all things, Call Center visit our blog at www.expiviausa.com.

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