Managing Appeals & Challenges in QA

A process of appeal. Special thanks to one of our readers, Sarah M., who sent an email asking about the process of a CSR challenging their Quality Assessment (QA) evaluation. Unless you've gone the route of having speech analytics evaluate all of your calls (which has inherent accuracy challenges of its own), your QA process is a human affair. Just as every CSR will fall short of perfection, so will every QA analyst. No matter how well you set up the process to ensure objectivity, mistakes will be made.

Because QA is a human affair, you will also be evaluating individuals who do not respond positively to having their performance questioned or criticized. There are a myriad of reasons for this and I won't bother to delve into that subject. The reality is that some individuals will challenge every evaluation.

So, we have honest mistakes being made, and we have occasional individuals who will systematically challenge every evaluation no matter how objective it is. How do you create a process of appeal that acknowledges and corrects obvious mistakes without bogging down the process in an endless bureaucratic system of appeals, similar to the court system?

Here are a couple of thoughts based on my experience:

  • Decide on an appropriate "Gatekeeper." Front line supervisors, or a similar initial "gatekeeper" are often the key to managing the chaos. There should be a person who hears the initial appeal and rightfully acknowledges there was an honest mistake, a worthy calibration issue, or dismisses the appeal outright. Now we've quickly addressed to probabilities: the honest mistake can be quickly corrected or the appeal without standing is quickly dismissed.
  • Formulate an efficient process for appeal. If an appeal is made that requires more discussion, than it needs to go a step further. I have seen many different set ups and scenarios this may successfully take. The "gatekeeper" might take it to the QA manager for a quick verdict. There might be a portion of regular calibration sessions given to addressing and discussing the issues raised by appeals. Two supervisors might discuss it and, together, render a quick decision.
  • Identify where the buck stops. When it comes to QA, my mantra has always been that"Managers should manage." A process of appeal becomes bogged down like a political process when you try to run it democratically. The entire QA process is more efficient, including the process of appeal, when a capable manager, with an eye to the brand/vision/mission of the company, can be the place where the buck stops.

Those are my two cents worth. What have you found to be key to handling challenges and appeals in your QA program?

  3 comments for “Managing Appeals & Challenges in QA

  1. February 4, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Wow, Tom. Thanks for the link love. It’s great to have you out there as an advocate quality and respect in out industry.
    Keep Cooking!

  2. February 4, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Happy to dish up your blog to my readers, Andrew!

  3. N/A
    March 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I am the lone QA in our call center and our dispute process is simple – it needs to go to their Supervisor first and if the Supervisor disagrees, it goes to our Center manager. QA and the Supervisors all report to him. If my reviews are bad, it reflects on me in my annual review. It also stops the Supervisors from disputing everything under the sun since they are rated on their team performance come annual review time. While it feels very sibling rivalry running to “Dad” it ensures we are all on the same page.

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