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If your company is going to outsource its call center, make sure you find one that really knows how to evaluate customer service. To figure out just how buttoned-up they are, we advocate asking these four questions:

1. How do you arrive at criteria to evaluate customer service?

First and foremost, when you look at the call center’s rules for scoring chats, calls and emails, remember that specificity is your best friend. Your call center should have specific scoring rules in place so that customer service evaluations leave little room for subjective interpretation. These rules also need to be customized to your company goals and brand messaging. Remember, this call center will be part of your company’s voice—generic criteria won’t cut it.

2. How are customer interactions scored and analyzed?

You can’t have a call center that takes a one-dimensional approach to customer service evaluations. If they are a larger center, expect them to have software in place so that they can score all interactions. But you can’t rely on software alone, since interactions are infused with subtleties. The call center’s customer service evaluations should involve independent research intelligence that performs narrative analysis. Narrative analysis uncovers the root causes of common issues. It also provides call center metrics, like Customer Service Branding and Competitive Edge scores. These are the most useful numbers, and software can’t calculate them.

3. How do your reports show me the quality of the interactions?

Any call center worth its salt will have detailed reports that illustrate how associates connect with and inform customers. If a call center’s reports only track the time-to-answer and the abandon rate, there’s no guarantee they’re demonstrating your brand.

4. How do scorecards motivate better CSR performance?

Your ideal call center will support your brand by making sure that customer service representatives truly understand the call center metrics by which they are evaluated. Scorecards should include: audio clips, quotes, drill-downs, and any other tools that can help align staff to your brand. Above all, scorecards should include actual re-do examples. CSRs are the face of your company, so they should be as solid on your brand as you are.

Interview a number of call centers thoroughly. And as part of your interview process, consider having a customer experience audit company mystery shop each of your final candidates so that you have data to back up your decision.

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