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Quality Assurance? Call me crazy

With some companies, recording customer phone calls is common practice. Under the guise of “quality improvement,” or Quality Assurance, you can expect a utility or an insurance company to offer you the fair and familiar warning. “This call might be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes ….” Something like that. I’m never really sure. All they said was it “might” be recorded. I must say, these calls often incite my competitive nature. I want to know, who gets recorded and who doesn’t? What is the criteria? Who decides? And when DO they decide? I figure, okay, if you’re recording me, let’s make this interesting, game on! I forgot what I was calling about.

With so much emphasis on customer-centric branding, you’d think the entire world was love and good deed. But given most people’s feeling and reaction to this kind of treatment, do you think these companies will improve their positioning? I don’t.

If I feel caught on one of these calls I’ll sometimes check my smartphone screen. I want to know how much time I’m investing. I’ll weigh the cost/benefit and promptly end it if I’m not content or if I cannot also use the time to multi-task. In fairness, large institutional companies are forced to monitor their call centers if there’s any hope of controlling the brand message end-to-end. They know it’s a revolving door around the call center— they’re always on the train.

Whatever the intent—research or training—I’ve noticed two things about this type of quality assurance effort 1) they’re used mostly by companies that actually need improvement and 2) these companies rarely seem to improve. They should know; satisfaction is not the expectation most of us hold. There are exceptions however, read on.

Exceptional service

Some time ago, for Accessa Coatings Solutions, I (happily) wrote a review of “Delivering Happiness,” the book penned by Zappos chief Tony Hsieh. Zappos’ brand promise of exceptional customer service is the new gold-standard. Zappos will occasionally record calls as well, but it’s a totally different human experience. Smart people, no script, very engaging and you’re always, satisfied. If you read the book, you may recall they uprooted and moved the business from San Francisco to Las Vegas so they could tap a larger pool of service oriented people. They sell shoes online but call them and ask about the weather in Vegas or where to find the best pizza. They never let you down. (Can’t believe I’m still talking about this book!)

Other exceptions are small companies who also strive to place their customer in the center. HIT Solutions comes to mind and I’m not intentionally plugging, I just know it to be true. These are exceptional companies who are hands-on and know, intuitively, the importance of exceptional service. They won’t be recording your call but you’ll get the biggest ear you could ask for.

Last word

No one buys any assertion of “quality.” To borrow a well-known Springsteen chant, “we must prove it all night.”

There is no such thing as a customer service person or department at Zappos. Instead, the whole organization is driven by a mission to provide the best customer service possible. Period.

You should try it. Start by listening and under-promising. Then make sure you find a way to deliver just a little more than anyone expected. Everyone is in charge of service. Call me crazy but that’s the only quality assurance anybody I know wants.

HIT Solutions believes the more your business keeps up with important trends, the more you will improve your product, and improve your bottom line.

Leave me your comments; share your thoughts.

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