How Non-Fatal Errors contributes to decrease in Quality?

Many customer contact centers report quality performance that they believe is acceptable.  However, high performance centers have found that in order to drive real business performance — customer satisfaction improvement and reduction in costly errors — they have to rethink how they measure and report Quality.

i have consulted  three customer contact centers on this topic.  A key finding: The best centers distinguish fatal from non-fatal errors — they know that one quality score doesn’t work!

However, most centers have just one quality score for a transaction (a call, an email, etc.) and they establish a threshold that they think is appropriate.  For example, one center’s quality form has 25 elements (many are weighted differently) with a passing grade of 80%.  This approach is typical, but it doesn’t work to drive high performance.

High performance centers create a distinct score for both fatal (or critical) and non-fatal (or non-critical) errors.  This enables them to (a) focus on fixing those errors that have the most impact on the business, and (b) drive performance to very high levels.

In my previous Blog about “Transactional Quality”, i have explained about Fatal and Non-Fatal Errors

What Is A Fatal Error?

We find that there are at least six types of fatal errors, which fall into two categories.  The first category includes those things that impact the customer.  Fatal errors in this category include:

1.  Giving the customer the wrong answer.  This can be further divided into two types:

• The customer will call back or otherwise re-contact the center.  This is the “classic” fatal error.

• The customer does not know they received the wrong answer (e.g., telling the customer they are not eligible for something that they are, in fact, eligible for).

2.  Something that costs the customer unnecessary expense.  An example would be telling the customer that they need to visit a retail store when they could have handled the inquiry over the phone.

3.  Anything highly correlated with customer satisfaction.  We find that first-call resolution is the single attribute most often correlated with customer satisfaction, although attribute correlations are different for different businesses (e.g., one center found that agent professionalism was the number-two driver of customer satisfaction—unusual given that professionalism is typically a non-fatal attribute).

The second category includes the next three fatal errors — those things that affect the business:

4.  Anything illegal.  The best example of this is breach of privacy (e.g., a HIPAA violation in a healthcare contact center, or an FDCPA violation in a collections center).

5.  Something that costs the company.  A good example is typing the wrong address into the system, which then results in undelivered mail.  This is another “classic” fatal error.

6.  Lost revenue opportunity.  This is primarily for a sales or collections center.

So… What is a Non-Fatal Error?

Non-fatal errors can be considered as annoyances.  These typically include misspellings on emails and what is often referred to as “soft skills” (using the customer’s name, politeness, etc.) on the phone.

If they are annoyances, then why spend time tracking them?  Because too many non-fatal errors can create a transaction that is fatally defective.  One misspelling or one bad word choice on an email probably won’t even elicit a response from a customer, but multiple misspellings, bad word choices, bad sentence structures, etc. will cause the customer to think that the substance of the email is likely incorrect.

What’s the Right Way to Score?

In a high performance center, one fatal error will make the entire transaction defective.  There is no middle ground.  So, the score for the center at the end of the month is simple—it’s the number of transactions (e.g., calls) without a fatal error divided by the number of transactions monitored.

So, what happens in a center that changes from the traditional scoring to the more accurate “one fatal error = defect” scoring.  This center thought that their quality performance was good.  However, when they re-scored, they found that the percentage of transactions with a fatal error ranged from 2%-15%, with the average at about 10%.  This was a real shock to the executives who had been used to hearing that their quality was around 97%.

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