Understanding QA Rules and Exceptions

Most QA elements are based on general guidelines for calls or e-mails in a given contact center. Some elements are fairly common as they address the vast majority of customer service or sales interactions. There are, however, exceptions to almost every customer service rule. There will always be those outlier circumstances that don’t seem to fit in the normal communication flow. The problem comes when people want to make the rules based on the exceptions:
  • Conversationally use the customer’s name. “But, this one time, a customer got angry because I mispronounced his name – so I never use the caller’s name. Don’t want to make that mistake again.”
  • Apologize if something has not met the customer’s expectations. “But, this one time, I had a customer who told me, ‘I don’t want your apology’ – so I’ve never apologized to a customer again.”
  • Give customers a time frame of when you’ll get back them with an answer. “But I never know when I’m going to hear back from accounting, can’t give a time frame because I might not meet it.”

It’s important to keep “rules” and “exceptions” in balance. Don’t make rules based on occasional exceptions. Base the elements of your QA scorecard on the general rules that apply to the vast majority of your calls. If an “exceptional” situation arises, you can deal with it on a situation by situation basis. For example, if the customer’s name was fifteen syllables long and difficult to pronounce, you would mark “use the customer’s name” not applicable for that particular call and talk to the CSR about how to handle those situations in the future.

There are other ways to deal with exceptional calls and situations within calls. My point is simply that, when coaching CSRs, you have to continually communicate your understanding of exceptional situations and your willingness to treat those situations in a just and fair manner. I try to be equally rigorous in communicating the message that the QA elements can be easily performed in the vast majority of contacts and it is expected that they will.

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