Objectivity: Clearly Define QA Elements

One of the goals of QA is an objective analysis of what took place in a phone call. When developing a QA scale, it’s important to incorporate elements that make it easy for the call analyst to be objective. A good example is "dead air".

Everyone in the call center world knows that "dead air" is a negative. It destroys customer confidence and can even lead to abandoned calls, return calls and unresolved calls. What many QA teams struggle with is how to define how much dead air is too much dead air.

Often, I will find clients who leave the call to the subjective call of the analyst. The QA element might read something like "Didn’t leave caller in dead air" – but then doesn’t define the amount of dead air that’s unacceptable. The result?

  • QA Nazis will ding the CSR if there’s a hint of unexplained silence
  • QA liberals will never ding the CSR because they understood what the CSR was trying to do, and we wouldn’t want to make the CSR feel bad when the system was hanging up and giving them fits
  • QA narcissists will ding the CSR only if it seemed excessive to them
  • QA relativists will generally give credit because "if you think that’s dead air you shoulda heard the dead air they used to leave customers in right after they were hired. This is nothin‘!"

If you’re going to be objective, you have to set a standard that is clearly defined and measured. I’ve seen QA scales with a seven second standard, a ten second standard, a fifteen second standard – or a tiered standard depending on whether the CSR explained what they were doing to the customer. How long it should be is a discussion for another time, but in each of these cases, the call scorer is given a clear time boundary. If the dead air exceeds that line you score it down. Simple.

Dead air is an easy example – there are others. Take a look at your QA scale or scorecard. Are there elements that open the door to broad differences of interpretation? If so, you’re QA scores have a broad margin of error.

  1 comment for “Objectivity: Clearly Define QA Elements

  1. April 25, 2007 at 2:57 am

    It can really be frustrating to frantically call for help only to be met by dead air, or worse, an equally frantic customer-service rep. It’s rare for me to find a good customer-service call. In my country, hotlines don’t seem to work at all!

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