June 23, 2005, 12:00 AM

ICMI survey gives e-monitoring a C-minus

Quality assurance monitoring on how contact center agents handle e-mail and chat falls short of phone quality assurance monitoring. Only 61% of centers polled by the ICMI monitor e-mails and only 8.7% monitor chat.

A survey of more than 800 call center professionals by the Incoming Calls Management Institute found that while more than 75% of responding call centers also handle customer e-mail transactions on behalf of marketers and other clients, only 61% of those centers actively monitor e-mail transactions for quality assurance. Only 8.7% the centers reported handling web chat; of those, only 55% do any monitoring of those transactions.

A total of 92% of survey participants said their call centers monitor phone interactions with customers. The number of calls monitored per agent ranged from one a month to 10 or more, with the largest percentage of centers – 34% -- monitoring between four and five calls per agent per month.

By contrast, the majority of centers that did any monitoring of agent’s e-mail contact with customers -- 56% -- monitored between two and five e-mail contacts per agent per month. Another 25% monitored 10 or more e-mails per agent per month. Among the few centers that monitored live chat interactions between agents and customers, most – 65% -- monitor between two and five chat interactions per agent per month.

When assessing the quality of agents’ e-mail interactions with customers, 67% of responding centers evaluate the accuracy of answers, 66% check spelling and grammar, 59% look at agent’s writing skills, and 50% look at process compliance. Sales skills – a quality assurance criterion in use for phone transactions at 35% of the reporting centers – wasn’t a factor in assessing the quality of e-mail transactions.

Noting how quickly customers can share comments on their experiences with e-contact center support by posting them online, the ICMC report encourages web-enabled centers to boost monitoring efforts. “By focusing more on quality assurance and agent improvement for e-mail and chat, call centers will raise e-support customer satisfaction and reduce the risk of negative ‘word of mouse’ causing customer distrust and defection,” the study concludes.

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