“Appealing” Options in QA

A client recently asked me about how different call centers handle giving CSRs a process of "appeal" when there is disagreement with how a call scored. Because every call center is a bit different in size and organization – I can’t say that I’ve seen consistent appeal procedures from one company to the next.

I do think that having an appeal process in place is a good thing, especially when internal QA scores are used for performance management and incentives. CSRs need to have recourse if they feel that a call was improperly score and the result may affect their pay, their performance record and a future promotion.

The appeal process does, however, need some checks and balances. QA teams can easily become over burdened with an abundance of appeals that are of little or no consequence. In isolated incidents I’ve watched disgruntled CSRs who appeal every score on every call.

We’re back to the Mr. Miyagi principle of call center management: "Must learn balance, Daniel-san".

Here are a few additional thoughts:

  • If you have an incredible number of appeals, it may be pointing to a larger issue. Your QA methodology may be flawed, you may have a calibration issue with one or two analysts, you may have not trained appropriately on a specific issue. Use appeals as an opportunity to improve your QA process. Ask yourself, "why did this appeal happen and what can I learn from it?"
  • Limit the number of allowable appeals. Some people appeal habitually out of perfectionism, cynicism or a simple penchant for being a pain in the patootie. If you establish that people are only allowed one appeal a quarter or twice a year it may make them think twice before appealing just to appeal.
  • Allow appeals only if it would make an appreciable difference. If the appeal would make a difference between a 99.3 and a 99.8 then it’s a waste of everyone’s time. Of course, you may have to define “appreciable difference”. For example, if it would make the difference between a CSR getting or not getting an incentive or reaching a certain level of service. If winning/losing the appeal isn’t going to make any difference to the CSRs overall standing – then the issue is moot.
  • Perhaps you can further limit things by having the appeal go first to just the sup. If the QR member and supervisor agree, then the QA sups can simply be informed of the decision so they can track the issue and keep record of it. If the QR and Sup do not agree, then the QA sups can become the arbiter. That might limit the number of appeals that the QA sups have to handle.

Do you have an appeal process that’s working? Comment on this post and share with the class!

  2 comments for ““Appealing” Options in QA

  1. July 11, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    I believe our appeals process actually works. I am the sole QA person in the call center, and I do around 750 QAs a month. I don’t coach at all: just monitor. Our supervisors coach. If the CSR has a score that he/she does not agree with, then they first speak to their supervisor. The supervisor reviews with them, then advises whether they should challenge or not.
    When a call is challenged, it goes to a calibration committee. This consists of the Operations manager (my boss), the Call Center manager, and myself. They score the call, then we discuss.
    The CSRs can challenge as many calls as they like: but there are a couple of rules. #1: if the calibration reveals that the score should go up, then I correct the score and it does not count against them. #2: If the score goes down or stays the same, it counts against them. The CSR can only have two strikes against them per month: after that, they cannot challenge another call that month.
    The calibrated score also has to be within 10 points of my score: this keeps me honest. We usually average 5 points or less. I credit this to our QA form: it is extremely well laid out, and has almost no room for error. Out of 750 QAs, we get 10 challenges a month. I’m pretty proud of that number.

  2. July 11, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing with us Ann. That’s awesome. Sounds like you’ve got a great thing going! I really appreciate you stopping by and sharing your experiences.

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