Quality Assurance is Essential for Healthcare Call Centers

Quality is the hallmark of great call centers, and a robust quality assurance (QA) program is what makes great call centers even greater. Nowhere is this more true than for healthcare call centers were any given call could have significant ramifications to the patient’s future health, even to the point of presenting life and death consequences.

A successful quality assurance program starts with a commitment to the overall process. The keys of an effective QA program follow, which are reliable scoring, actionable feedback to agents, a sustainable schedule, and timely interactions.

QA Process: Quality assurance management involves recording, listening to, and evaluating agent calls. The focus of a QA program is not the number of calls considered but providing actionable content to guide agents toward call center excellence. Most agents want to do better—and if they don’t, perhaps you need to end their employment. Following an unwavering QA process will provide them with the guidance they desire, provided you wisely implement a program that is respected, regular, and reliable.

QA Scoring: The key factor in QA is consistent call scoring. Will a quality control manager rate any given call the same, regardless of when the call is evaluated? Will beginning-of-the-day results track with end-of-day assessments? What about Monday scoring versus Friday? Next consider two quality assurance specialists. Will both rate a call the same? It’s essential that they do, for without a high level of consistency, the program loses its credibility. However, without thoughtful, ongoing training, results can vary greatly. Yes, quality assurance staff needs training. This includes initial instruction on the process, as well as ongoing reviews to insure consistent application. When you take these steps, agents will respect the process and respond well to the evaluations.

QA Feedback: The goal of every QA evaluation is actionable content. While offering affirmation of call excellence is essential, if that’s all that a feedback session entails, it soon loses its meaning. Conversely providing only negative feedback wears down agents and produces discouragement; before long agents will dread feedback and react negatively. Instead each coaching session should affirm what the agent did well and then offer a tangible suggestion for ongoing improvement.

QA Schedule: Once a quality assurance program is in place, it’s essential to maintain a regular schedule. Don’t provide two evaluations per agent one week and then offer no feedback for a month. The number of calls considered each week is not nearly as important as developing a sustainable schedule. It would be better to complete one call per agent every week, then to aim for four and burn out after a month.

QA Timing: While coming up with a regular, sustainable schedule to listen to and evaluate calls is critical, don’t minimize the final step: meeting with the agent to review the results. Too often this final action is minimized or even lost in the frenzy of completing evaluations. Yet each day—even each hour—of delay in providing feedback to the agents, serves to lessen its impact and its effectiveness. Therefore to maximize the usefulness of a QA evaluation, strive to meet with the agent quickly. The less time between the call and the coaching session, the greater the value of the information and the better the possible outcome. And great agent outcomes are the goal of every quality assurance program.

Develop a sound QA process, consistent scoring, balanced coaching, regular evaluations, and fast feedback in order to produce the best quality results for your call center. Learn more about quality assurance (QA) programs for healthcare call centers from Call Center Sales Pro.

Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier contact center consultancy that provides quality assurance training solutions and evaluations for healthcare call centers. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or 800-901-7706 to learn more about arranging specific training for your organization.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.