It has become vogue for call centers to have the latest, greatest software for monitoring and scoring phone calls. For most companies, the decision to purchase one of these products is no small consideration. These software options can be a major investment running well into six figures on just the initial capital outlay. I’ve had the experience of working with various call centers who have utilized the products of different software vendors. My suggestion is that you take your time and give plenty of consideration before making an investment in software. A couple of thoughts:
- Software is only a tool, you still have to know how to use it. You wouldn’t purchase bookkeeping software and expect it to make you financially solvent. In the same way, you can’t expect that having one of these software products is going to make you an expert in call quality assessment. Unfortunately, I’ve watched companies spend a lot of money on software with the expectation that they’ll simply turn it on and have instant, successful QA. Most of the time, there is a large hidden cost in man power, time and resources just to figure out how you’re going to use it and program the software with your own QA metrics.
- Slide Shows and slick sales presentations are no substitute for a real-life demonstration. Just last week a client told me how angry they were with their QA software vendor. The client had asked the vendor for a “hands-on” demonstration of the software update on which they were spending a considerable sum of money. The vendor flew in (at the client’s expense!) with nothing but a handful of slides and screen shots. The client was angry and the vendor maintained a “you’ll get what we give you and like it” mentality.
- Get good references. I asked one of our clients what she thought of the QA software her company had purchased a few years ago. “How do I like it?” she repeated, incredulously looking around the room. “Do you see anyone from the software vendor around here helping me? They’re not here helping me, you’re the one here helping me! How do you think I feel about them?” I wish her experience was isolated, but it’s not. It is not uncommon for contact centers to feel that they were courted by a vendor who disappeared after they said, “I do.” They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on software that you can’t just return with a receipt, only to find themselves in an unhappy marriage to the vendor.
- Software experts are not necessarily QA experts. One of our clients was told by their software vendor that, if they wanted to purchase a certain add-on module, they must also pay for the vendor’s experts to help them with their QA scale. They were not given a choice and the resulting QA scale, in our opinion, was a muddled, statistically invalid mess. Programming software to capture audio and data isn’t the same as measuring and analyzing it the data that’s captured.
- Beware of the money-pit. I remember a Looney Tunes animated short where Daffy Duck is a salesman demonstrating all these great home-improvement technologies to Porky Pig. He keeps warning Porky not to push the red button on the control panel. When Porky gives in to temptation and pushes the forbidden red button, his house is lifted thousands of feet in the air on a hydraulic lift. Daffy comes by in a helicopter and says, “For small fee, you can buy the blue button to get you down!” This is a similar experience to clients who have purchased QA software. You spend a ton of money on this product, you get it installed and integrated with your phone system – now you’re stuck with it. When it doesn’t quite do what you want it to, the software company will tell you they’ll be happy to turn on that feature – for a not-so-small fee.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe these powerful software tools can be invaluable in helping you efficiently manage your QA program. In most cases, they actually make my job easier, so I don’t generally have a problem with them. It’s just that I’ve just witnessed a lot of frustration from my clients. I would encourage anyone to do their homework, check references, and count the cost (not just the initial cost of the software, but the cost of developing internal QA expertise, additional licenses, frequent updates, and program downtime waiting for the vendor to provide after-the-sale service).
flickr photo courtesy of stephenm