Quality over quantity?

Yesterday I took the day off I said I would take, but there’s a new post for today.

Today’s post is about the classic debate of quality over quantity. More specifically, is it better to get through a lot of problems (and not do such a great job) or get through a less amount (but do a better job)?

The answer: ask your customers! To answer this question, you should take a poll of your customers. Ask them something like:

If we changed the way we did support, would you rather have:

  • Response times be slower, but responses be more detailed and more accurate.
  • Respond times be quicker, but responses be less detailed and less accurate.

Most customers will probably say that it depends on the situation. Generally, it does. Ideally, that’s what priorities are for, but almost no one listens to priorities. Customers are fearful if they mark the priority “Low,” they won’t get a response for a month. Therefore, every little thing is “High” or “Critical” priority. The solution?

  • Have a page in your support center that outlines the average responses to issues marked as different priorities.

For example:

Emergency – 5 minutes
Critical – 20 minutes
High – 30 minutes
Medium – 1 hour
Low – 2 hours

If a customer saw that they don’t need this issue fixed for three or four hours, they could mark it as a low priority. Staff could then concentrate on things marked as “Emergency” priority and get through the more important issues before the less important ones.

So, now that you have an idea of how to allow some quality instead of quantity, how do you find a happy medium between quality and quantity? The easiest solution I’ve found is something like below:

Measurements should be based on tickets/issues/cases responded to that had the fewest:

  • Amount of replies
  • Total time for a ticket/issue/case to be resolved/closed (without it being re-opened by the customer)
  • Highest satisfaction rating

So, the ticket with the fewest replies and a high satisfaction rating that was resolved quickly will ensure that everyone is happy. It allows for staff to resolve (instead of just getting through or responding to) more issues/cases/tickets/etc. and for the customer to be happy.

You may have to put the various metrics that your system produces in an Excel sheet to calculate all of this. Measuring these things is tough when you don’t do something very simple and very objective (i. e. amount of replies sent). It’ll take some creativity on your part. Try asking your staff how they think they should be measured (a measurement that would promote the best customer service with the fastest response times possible) and see what they say.

There’s going to be more about this in the future, but it won’t get too detailed. Quality over quantity or vice versa is very much an item of a company’s culture. Some just want to get through the tickets – others want to provide great customer service. It’s an extremely important topic and thus has many specialists who talk only about measuring satisfaction (such as this great blog).

One Response to “Quality over quantity?”

  1. Damiaan said:

    Jun 08, 06 at 3:24 pm

    If you had a 1000 tickets, how do you think the distribution over these would be?

    Emergency – 5 minutes
    Critical – 20 minutes
    High – 30 minutes
    Medium – 1 hour
    Low – 2 hours

    I have a nagging feeling that most people will mark everything high to emergency, with the peak being at critical. Probably a Gaussian distribution with, as I said, the peak at critical.

    Personally I think anything over 4 options is too much, so I’d propose:

    emergency (all is going to hell)
    high/critical (something is broken, it’s a affecting business)
    medium (something is broken, it’s not affecting business)
    low (looking for info, something is unexpected)