Dealing With Calibration Disagreements

Call Calibration can be a contentious process, though calibration is necessary for anyone doing Quality Assessment (QA). Calibration, for those readers who have never heard of it, is the process of analyzing a phone call together in a group with the goal of having each person scoring calls the same way – thus being "calibrated". There are a myriad of ways that calibration is done – some better than others – but few calibration sessions go by without there being some disagreement – thus the contention.

I was sat in calibration with a client the other day and listened to two well-trenched groups of people debating long and hard about a miniscule matter. The disagreement stemmed from a behavioral element that asked if the CSR “Asked additional questions
to further understand the issue”. The element was understood by some to be any question including “Can I
have your account number?” while others understood that it was only applicable if
the CSR had to ask questions to clarify a vague customer (e.g. “So, let me get this straight, are you
calling on invoice 1234 or invoice 5678?”). I know it seems silly to outsiders, but in QA it is important to ensure that people are analyzing calls and applying the QA elements consistently.

After several minutes I decided it was time to exit and get another cup of coffee. As I took a breather from the fray, it struck me that calibration arguments are often the result of
competing points-of-view for which there is not a right or wrong answer
.  Either position is fine. This was one of those discussions. Typically, I find that it takes a good manager to make the call and get the QA troops on the same page. A capable QA manager will listen to both sides, make a decision and step in to lead:

"This is a great discussion and I see both points-of-view. There is no right or wrong here – both views are valid, but we need to make a decision and move forward. This is how I want us to score this element from now on and here’s why I’m making this decision…"

The key to having efficient, productive calibration is to have capable, strong leadership.

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