QA Today:The Human Element

There are a growing number of companies who are scrapping internal call monitoring programs and Quality Assessment initiatives. One noticeable trend is the shift toward after call satisfaction surveys to replace traditional call monitoring. In most cases, the customer is asked to rate their satisfaction with the agent and/or the resolution of the issue. In some cases, customers can leave comments for the Customer Service Representative (CSR). I’ve heard of some companies who use the satisfaction ratings from these post call surveys as the only service quality metric.

From a management perspective, this tactic has all sorts of budgetary, productivity and managerial upside. In effect, you automate the process. Let the IVR handle the survey, let your software spit out a report that gets emailed to the CSR and supervisor. If customers are happy, then the company is happy. You only deal with CSRs who get consistently poor ratings.

Sounds like a dream. So, what’s the problem?

  • Bias. Post IVR surveys are rife with all sorts of response bias. You’re not getting an objective, random sample of customer feedback. You’re typically getting feedback from customers who are really happy, really unhappy, or who like entering the survey sweepstakes.
  • You get what you measure. If a CSR knows that they simply have to get good ratings then they will make sure they get good ratings. This might include giving away the company store to ensure blissful customers or badgering customers to give them good ratings (e.g. “I might lose my job if I get bad ratings.”). You might never know this, however, because you’re not listening to the calls.
  • No actionability. One of the most critical piece you miss when relying on customer sat as your lone QA metric is actionability. So, customer’s aren’t satisfied with a particular agent. Typically, there’s no objective data to help that CSR know what he/she is doing that dissatisfies customers. You might pick up a few ideas from anecdotal messages customer’s leave but it’s certainly not an objective measurement. You could coach your CSR to focus on a particular behavior based on one or two irate customers who leave a post-call tirade, but completely miss some critical service skills that the CSR needs to address to consistently improve the customer experience.

In an era in which technology is touted as a cure for every business problem, it’s easy to want to flip a switch and have QA report automatically generated and sent out. However, great Customer Service is still largely a human enterprise conducted by human beings with a wide range of education levels, skills, experience and personalities. The best way to address human behaviors is with human assessment and human interaction. It may be messy at times, but it can be done efficiently, done successfully, and done well.

  2 comments for “QA Today:The Human Element

  1. Escargot
    March 10, 2011 at 8:55 am

    why no actionability? Couldn’t we drive actions just like when conducting in-house call monitoring?

  2. May 18, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Human element refers to human behaviour and psychology factors. I am still hoping that the wilder elements will be thrown out. The Human Element solution is a process for addressing and resolving human issues.

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