I read a recent article by John Cook of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about companies off-shoring their QA responsibilities. John reports that companies are being enticed by off-shore firms who can analyze 40-50 calls per agent per month as opposed to internal QA teams who struggle to get four or five calls analyzed per month. Companies are lured by the promise that the higher sample rates will provide them better data at a fraction of the cost.
There are a couple of issues I’d raise to any executive considering making this move:
- More is not always better. Our experience with QA audits tells us that the largest problem facing call center QA teams in corporate America is not the sample size, but the methodology. It doesn’t matter whether you have a supervisor in New York scoring 5 calls or a worker in New Delhi scoring 50 calls, if you’re not scoring the right things the right way you’re still going to end up with data of questionable value. Sure, you’re going to have ten times more crappy data, but it will still have limited value.
- Translation is more than language. Our group did some research for a company who off-shored their order taking calls. The result was disastrous. The problem was not that the off-shore agents weren’t polite or efficient – but that they struggled with the language and the cultural differences. Foreign CSRs were at a loss with customers who wanted help shopping for things like a lawn ornament. Much of the valuable information that can be gleaned from a competent QA analysis is not just in the text of the call but in the subtext. Both can be lost in translation.
- More is not always better. (No, this isn’t a typo!) It is a common misconception that you need huge sample rates to get valid QA data. While it might be advisable to increase the sample size during the first few months of employment to separate the chaff from the wheat, after that you can get very accurate data on a much smaller sample.
- There are other options. Many companies have started back-shoring call center functions after the initial lure of cheap labor resulted in a host of unforeseen problems that were costly in customer satisfaction and the bottom line. Our group partners with clients both to provide QA analysis and/or to supplement their internal efforts. Not only do we provide help with the analysis, but we help make sure that the QA methodology is valid and provides profitable data.