Should One Missing QA Element Result in a Zero?

Connie Smith recently posted a common question among call center QA teams. The question is this, if I may paraphrase it:

Is there a behavioral element – a zero-tolerance issue – on the QA form that is so important that to miss it means you get a big, fat zero on the whole form?

Great question! There are some important questions to ask yourself when considering this course of action.

  • What are the goals and objectives of the QA process?
    Definition will help you answer the question at hand. If your QA
    process is in place to simply spot-check CSRs on critical, show-stopper
    issues that make or break the call – then having a pass/fail
    methodology may work (depending on how it’s structured). If you’re using
    QA to gain an overall picture of the customer’s service experience and/or
    the overall performance of the CSR, then giving one behavioral element
    the power to zero out all the other elements is probably not in your best interest.
  • Are you using QA as individual performance appraisal and tracking the results? If so, then making the entire result "0" because of one missed element ruins the objectivity of the process. Denying a CSR credit for the things that they did do correctly can damage CSR buy-in, your QA programs reputation and it may not stand up to scrutiny should circumstances escalate.
  • Realistically, what are the consequences of the behavior? There are some call centers who deal with highly regulated issues and one mistake could place the company at significant risk. So yes, one missed element can be extremely serious. Unfortunately, we’ve also witnessed some call centers who make "zero tolerance" issues, not because of potential regulatory improprieties or impact on customer satisfaction, but because of a manager’s pet peeve.

We’d recommend that, rather than giving a zero for the entire call, you weight the critical behavior so that it has an appropriate and proportionate impact on the resulting overall service score. The CSR still "fails" the call, experiencing the negative consequence of missing the critical issue (which may include reprimand or termination) – but you’re not denying the fact that the CSR did, in fact, adhere to other behavioral expectations.

Of course, you’ll need to have some reasoning (having supporting data helps) to defend your weighting of the critical element. Nevertheless, you can still manage the resulting consequence as a performance management issue, but you’ve put yourself in a much stronger position should your methodology be scrutinized.

  2 comments for “Should One Missing QA Element Result in a Zero?

  1. November 22, 2006 at 11:13 am

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for posting my question. I personally not a fan of pass/fail forms and I am interested in what your audience has to say.
    Connie Smith
    Chief Evangelist, Envision

  2. November 22, 2006 at 11:15 am

    Me too, Connie. We’ll see if anyone has other thoughts.

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