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Two Trends in Quality Assurance- What’s Ahead for Call Center QA

Traditionally call center quality assurance has focused on the back end of the activity, assessing the call after it is completed. This is a little like closing the barn door after the horse has left. It also means that we must accept that any issues or problems that impacted on the specific call assessed has already happened and cannot be undone. This approach is much like quality assurance used to be in manufacturing…checking the car for defects at the end of the process. Of course if we are talking about a car, we could pull a car with too many defects from the line and never sell it to a customer. In our call centers however, we have already provided the potentially defective service by the time we assess it.

Quality can’t be a after thought and has to be ‘baked in’ to the process. I think that this needs to be one of the key shifts in training development and coaching. We need to make quality a part of the design process, the training process and the way we do things. We need to turn the process on its head in order to deliver quality in advance of consumption of the service (the call). To achieve this we need to look closely at what we do and how we do it today. To effectively do this utilizes Kaizen principles that small changes add up over time enabling you to think big but start small.

The Kaizen mindset is one of improving continuously making small innovative changes over time. Toyota one of world’s most successful auto companies used the Kaizen approach to focus on attention to small details resulting in fewer defects than competition. To stress the point even further, Toyota and General Motors set up a joint venture in Oakland, CA to reopen an old plant. It turns out that joint venture produced far fewer defects than GM’s newest plants. It wasn’t the technology; it was the attention to fixing the small things that paid off. The same approach can result in a series of small incremental improvements in embedding quality into our hiring, training an on-boarding processes, resulting in a significant overall improvement.

A second key shift I expect we will see is the move away from internal quality scores and the whole, subjective ‘catch them doing something wrong’ (or even right) mindset and towards defining quality based solely on customer feedback. After all at the end of the day if the customer feels the call was good or bad they will act accordingly regardless of what our internal findings and scores were. In this environment today’s quality teams evolve into compliance and coaching teams. This will allow organizations to move away from ‘what we think is important to the customer’ to act and react to ‘what actually is important to the customer’. We must let the customer define what is quality, and since they are already defining in their minds ‘How satisfied am i”, all we are really seeking is a view to that opinion.

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