Quality Control or Obsession?

There’s a fine line between quality control and obsession. Though Tom Vander Well at QAQNA knows far more about quality assessment than I do, I’ll provide my insights as to what’s the line between quality control and obsession.

Quality Control:
Quality control is when supervisors read call/ticket ratings and statistics to ensure quality. They may listen on random phone conversations or read some random tickets to make sure that everyone is listening to company rules and policies. When a supervisor that is concerned about quality control, but not obsessed with it, notices something bad, he or she will often say something to the involved representative and make sure that the problem is not across the whole department. If it is, the supervisor should then look into the problem and see what can be done to fix.

Quality Obsession:
Quality obsession is when a large percentage of calls and tickets are monitored, reviewed, etc. by supervisors, when rules and policies relating to quality are completely non-negotiable, and if there’s a problem, it’s sure to be made a big one. Employees are scolded if they make a typo or say something incorrectly, and the work environment is very tough for both employees and supervisors.

Though these examples are probably a bit exaggerated, companies should try and find a happy medium. You can call the happy medium whatever you want, but quality focused would be a good term. Quality focused is when you do care quite a bit about quality, but you don’t obsesses over it to the point where the working environment is no longer pleasant.

Supervisors that are quality focused:

  • Care more about satisfaction ratings than average call time.
  • Want the representative to make the extra effort in when it comes to Little Things, Big Differences.
  • Do randomly monitor/listen to/read some calls/tickets, but only to see if there are any representative-specific or department-wide problems – not to micromanage the customer service process.
  • Encourage email support employees to use spell check and watch spelling/grammar/punctuation/capitalization, but do not obsesses over it.
  • Ask employees for ideas as to how to improve the quality of the company or department’s customer service.
  • Reward outstanding employees.

See the differences? Though they may seem subtle, it makes a big difference. When supervisors start becoming obsessed with any one metric (whether it be quality, call times, fewer cancellations, etc.), the work place is sure to become more stressful and in turn, supervisors may notice some good employees either leaving, becoming less friendly and accommodating, or burning out.

If your company’s customer service department is fairly relaxed, try to keep it that way. Employees shouldn’t pass off customer service as “just another thing to do” or “no big deal,” but truly value great customer service. You don’t have to be obsessed with quality to provide great customer service. Focused yes, but obsessed, no.

I hope you liked the yesterday’s interview, because there are going to be a few more within the upcoming month or so. The next interview coming up will be with Craig Newmark, the Founder, Chairman, and a Customer Service Representative at Craigslist. I’ll also be interviewing Joe Kraus, an entrepreneur and investor as well as the CEO and co-founder of JotSpot, a company that makes software that enables enterprise and personal wikis.

3 Responses to “Quality Control or Obsession?”

  1. Tom Vander Well said:

    Jun 30, 06 at 9:25 am

    Thanks for the props, Doug – but this post proves you are well versed in what puts the “quality” in quality assessment. You and your blog are consistently making me better at what I do.

    I wish every call center supervisor could read this post and choose to pattern their management style accordingly.

    You go.

  2. Starbucker said:

    Jul 04, 06 at 9:52 am

    Tom, you are right – this is a post worth sharing with others, and I intend to pass this on to our management and supervisors at our call center. Don’t you just love plain old common sense? Thanks for the post, and yes, keep “going” on this one!

  3. Service Untitled » Acceptable to Great said:

    Sep 28, 06 at 8:30 pm

    […] Watch. Once you implement these changes, be sure to watch them. Are they actually helping? What do customers think? Be sure to monitor quality (discussed here) and ensure the changes are helping and being done wherever they should be. For example, it doesn’t do the customer any good if your training manual says “Address customers by name”, but employees aren’t doing it. You need to monitor them to ensure they are doing their part as well. […]