Measure What You Know, Not What You Perceive

QA is not a crystal ball. I am a patient person. Nevertheless, I've learned that I can also be an emotional volcano. I am very slow to anger, and I rarely erupt, but there is a limit to how much frustration I will bear before the explosion is bound to occur. I'm not saying this is a good thing, but it is true about me. Because of this, family, friends, and service providers will often misread me and my responses. I don't look angry. I'm not screaming and yelling. So, they conclude, everything is just fine when it's not. In reality, there's an eruption brewing just below my calm exterior.

You can't always tell what a person is thinking and feeling.

When creating criteria for your Quality Assessment (QA) scale or monitoring form, it's best to clearly define the behaviors you're listening for from the Customer Service Representative (CSR) on the phone. The easiest way to stay objective is to measure that which you can hear and know. Keep your criteria limited what the CSR says to the person on the other end of the conversation.

It's quite common to find companies or individuals basing their assessment on what they perceive the customer thinks or feels. I've seen QA scales that are based on how well the CSR met or exceeded the customer's expectations. However, unless you interview each customer, you're making specious judgements about what that customer thought of the experience. In addition, some customers will never be satisfied. It would not be appropriate to rate the CSR's effort based on an uncontrollable outcome.

People also like to make arguments based on the perceived response or lack of response from the customer. "I shouldn't be penalized for not saying 'please,'" a CSR might argue, "because the customer clearly didn't care whether I said it or not." But, you don't know what that particular customer thought, felt or perceived. Just like my friends thinking that I'm perfectly calm when there is an eruption brewing beneath the surface. QA is not intended to be a crystal ball that looks into the mind of each customer.

We can know, for a fact, what drives our customers' satisfaction on the whole. A good customer satisfaction survey will provide us with this information and it can be critically important in defining the elements we expect as part of our QA criteria. But to try and judge an individual call based on perception of the customer's response is an exercise in futile subjectivity.

We can't control or accurately read every customer's mind, but we can control what we say to each customer and how we say it.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and nancee_art

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