Pros & Cons of 3rd Party QA

HandshakeQAQnA Mug Clubber, Starbucker made an intersting comment about the QA process in a recent post:

I do sometimes fear that without some ‘outside the fishbowl’ perspective now and then, the process becomes too rote and complacency sets in”

Our group has been in the business of helping clients with their Quality Assessment (QA) for 25 years. Our involvement has run the gamut from helping clients organize and launch their QA program to performing audits of existing QA programs all the way to literally being a “turn-key” QA provider. The “outside the fishbowl” perspective has consistently been communicated to us as a key reason our clients find value in the service we provide.

One of the core values of our group is that we only want to work for clients when we know we can provide a measurable value for their investment. We’ve even “fired” clients through the years when it became clear that they were wasting their money with us. In most of these cases, our clients were paying lip service to improving the process but weren’t really interested in the data or acting on it.

I try to be very honest and objective about the value we can or cannot provide.

Here’s what our clients tell me:

  • You’re an objective, outside voice. You don’t have an axe to grind and you analyze calls from the customer’s perspective – not an internal perspective.”
  • If I hire you I know it gets done. Left to us, QA always seems to get stuck on the back burner because we have other urgent things that take precedent.”
  • When I consider the cost of software, man hours, training my people how to do it, organizing the program, developing internal expertise and the headache of managing it – it makes more sense to invest in your expertise.”
    And my personal favorite…
  • I can fire you any time I want. I just pick up the phone. If I hire a team of people to do this internally, I’m stuck with ’em whether they actually make it work or not.”

What are the cons of using 3rd party QA? I think the cons depend largely on what a company wants to get out of the process. Many leaders want that objective “voice-of-the-customer” perspective. I believe the cons of using 3rd party come largely when you want the QA process to give you a lot of data regarding CSR ability and compliance with regard to internal systems, processes and policy. Thus:

  • A 3rd party analyst doesn’t usually have an intimate knowledge of internal systems, policies and procedures – therefore there is a limit to the amount of data that can be provided.
  • With the constancy of change in a call center, policies and procedures can alter rapidly and communicating all these changes to an off-site 3rd party provider can be difficult.
  • Analysis and coaching isn’t usually as frequent with 3rd party providers.
  • Being a 3rd party provider is usually viewed as an “outside” expense on the ledger. Some managers find it easier to make the investment when it’s viewed as an internal “operations” expense.

Are there any pros or cons that I missed? Feel free to post a comment and share your thoughts and experiences.

Related Posts:
The Secret of This Team’s Success
Who are You Satisfying with Your QA Scale?

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Flickr photo courtesy of Katie Tark

  3 comments for “Pros & Cons of 3rd Party QA

  1. September 4, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    Hi Tom! Have you thought of having a representative like a site / vendor QA lead to visit your client’s center, just so you are also involved in the intimate details of agent performance? I’m not sure if this is something your company might look into. I’m not aware of the costs involved. This reminded me of one of our client visits, when one stated they use a 3rd party provider and wasn’t interested in our QA process “internally”. This helps me explain a little bit more of the benefits of still having a team internally.

  2. Barbara
    December 12, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    Out course QA folks do not have the ability to handle esculations created by poor service– the instant call back the person who contacts the customer and resolves the issue, after viewing an incorrect work order etc. Inside teams also have hands on ability to take the call over if its going horribly wrong. All inside teams must remember to be be Switzerland, pretend you dont know that Joe’s tone is just that way or that Caroline is having a bad day.. we refer to it as WWDD- what would division do– this means how would the president -who does know these agents grade this call– then we do the same.
    =0)

  3. December 13, 2006 at 7:18 am

    Thanks for the great comment Barbara. It sounds like you’ve got a great team doing great things! Way to go! I especially like the WWDD concept. That could be another blog post! 🙂

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