Zero Tolerance QA Elements

DonteventhinkMost companies we work with or provide QA for have certain elements that are considered zero tolerance elements for CSRs. That is, if the CSR does this – there will be immediate negative consequences.

Examples of zero tolerance items are:

  • Using profanity/obscenity. I’ve had CSRs argue that when the customer uses profanity, it should be a lisence to respond in kind. No way. Profanity or obscenity is never professional – ever.
  • Criticising or denigrating the company. When a CSR speaks ill of their company to the customer it is disastrous to customer confidence and satisfaction.
  • Criticising or denigrating the customer. I know that some customers just don’t get it. Nevertheless, the CSR is there to be a professional, helpful and caring representative of the company. Mocking or making fun of the customer will never be positive or appropriate.
  • Hanging up on customers. There are rare cases when a customer is being abusive and the call must be terminated, but there is still a proper and professional procedure to follow (see AC’s post and how he handled it).

Consequences for zero tolerance elements can vary widely from company to company. Some companies will give the call an automatic "zero", reprimand the CSR and/or give a warning. Others will immediately escort the CSR to the door or to HR for an exit interview.

What does your company consider to be zero tolerance elements on the phone? How do you handle these performance issues? Any experiences you’d like to share? Please post a comment!

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  6 comments for “Zero Tolerance QA Elements

  1. June 16, 2006 at 3:38 am

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for the link. My call center has a sort of sliding scale as far as these things go. Anything even leaning towards sexual harrassment, they automatically respond with warnings and firings. As far as other issues go, they are better than they used to be, but they still don’t respond automatically everytime one of us curses at a customer or the other issues that you listed.
    Many of the people on the floor resent that some people seem to get away with murder, but anyone who thinks about it can see that you just can’t drop kick every employee that curses now and then, or had a bad day and said something negative about the company. You’d have no employees left, and we all know turnover can be another call center nightmare.
    I would like to see what you are describing be implemented in my call center-but I certainly think firing an employee should be the last step for these offenses.

  2. June 16, 2006 at 5:36 am

    Interesting, AC. Reflecting on it as I read your comment, it struck me that the call centers I know who are trigger happy with firing a CSR tend to have little turnover problems and are more “cream of the crop” type centers (e.g. “We pay well, we know this is a premium job for this market, and there are a lot of people who want this job – so we have no problem kicking you out.”).
    I probably should have also reiterated in the post that I very rarely see these “zero tolerance” elements be an issue. The vast, vast, vast majority of CSRs I’ve ever worked with are people who genuinely want to do right by the customers and sleep at night knowing they’ve done a good job.
    Great comment! Thanks!

  3. June 16, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    I’m not a call center manager by any means, but I’ve definitely called in to my share of not-so-brilliant CSR’s.
    And I’ve never, ever used profanity. Why? Well, there’s plenty of time for that after I hang up, for one. And for another, it doesn’t help the situation. And finally, because most reps I know have been trained to respond with, “There is no call for profanity. If you continue with that type of language, ma’am, I will end this call.”
    That is, I know that if a swear word slips out, my credibility is shot, and the phone call will most likely end right there.
    And *then* I have to call back again–and where’s the fun in that?

  4. June 17, 2006 at 9:56 am

    You know, Grandma was right – “you can catch a lot more with honey than you can with vinegar”. I’m with you, Heidi – why customers think they can swear and belittle a CSR and get their way is a head scratcher.
    Fortunately, the number of customers who act like this are relatively small – though they take up an inordinate amount of memory in a CSR’s brain.

  5. Ehsan Arif
    November 7, 2007 at 10:15 am

    I think the policy is too rigid and the authority needs to think befor taking their action.
    If I take the reference from Applied Devices, the case of Simon was too harsh. Only his fault was he used unauthorised E-mail but he was not given any chance to defend himself. May be he used it for the betterment of the company.
    So, what I think is zero tolerance is important for the company but it should be in a human way. Authority should give the offeneder at least a chance with a warning of cutting increment or with a little punishment but not by firing.

  6. November 7, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Though I’m unaware of the specific incident you reference, I appreciate the comment Eshan and I agree that any management team should take circumstance into consideration before terminating an employee!

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