Once the new employee is operational or ‘in production’, the best way of preventing the common ‘quality gaps’ that occur is through consistent communication. In effect, it is the people within a call centre that create the organisation’s quality and have the biggest impact on the customer’s experience. It is vital that all agent assessments are performed within the context of the organisation’s overall quality goals, and that the agent receives consistent communication regarding quality assessments, changes in the organisation and updates to processes and procedures. Given the importance of an employee’s role, preventing a quality gap from occurring requires more than setting appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs)*. Ensuring that the wellness of the employee is actively managed and developing the employee so that he/she can grow within the organisation is also a requirement.
The role of workforce management Workforce management has an important operational role to play since it has to orchestrate and co-ordinate the new employee, as well as the various ancillary resources within the organisation which underpin its ability to deliver quality. If, for instance, the new staff are not brought into production soon enough, service levels in the business may not be attained and a quality gap may occur. Moreover, if the department does not know well in advance that new employees are needed to accommodate growth or attrition backfill, recruitment and training may not be able to effectively execute their responsibilities. It might not appear obvious, but the people responsible for managing the resources of the organisation are, ultimately, the people that enable quality in the organisation.
The conflict between efficiency and quality Another common operational ‘quality gap’ occurs as a result of the inherent conflict between efficiency or service levels, and quality. When, for example, calls start backing up, queue agents and team leaders often feel pressured to speed up calls and sacrifice defined levels of quality to reduce the queue. While this may reap short-term rewards, it may prove a false economy in the long run when repeat calls and long-term workload inconsistencies begin to occur. To prevent such quality gaps occurring when calls are backing up, the focus should continue to be on delivering the same quality interaction as when calls are slow: following the established guidelines and procedures, and answering the call correctly every time.
*Parameters used to determine the degree to which an organisation has achieved its goals.