Call Quality Management

Definition

In commercial or public safety environments quality monitoring is the process of listening to recorded calls for the purpose of assessing how well the agent handled the call. Since supervisors can only listen to a small fraction of total calls it is important to select calls that may present coaching opportunities. The calls may be monitored real-time, as a supervisor listens in on a remote phone, or by selecting stored calls from the recording device. Each call is then rated against specific quality criteria; such as accuracy, completeness, courtesy, clarity, conformance with PSAP procedures, call control, and processing time

Why PSAPs Need Quality Management

The primary reason PSAPs should conduct quality assurance evaluations is very simple – to assure that citizens are receiving the quality of service they expect and deserve form their 9-1-1- centers. There are other reasons as well:

Reasons to implement a call quality management program

  • To assure that proper protocols and procedures are being followed
  • To assess ‘soft skills” such as call control, calmness under pressure, voice clarity, and communications skills
  • To assess the effectiveness of training and coaching efforts
  • Compliance with laws and regulations
  • Defense against liability suits
Best Practices

Ideally, both call-takers and dispatchers should be periodically monitored and evaluated. The frequency of monitoring depends on objectives. If the intent is to determine true averages and deviations from the norm at the individual level then it is necessary to randomly select and monitor a statistically significant sample of calls. Few PSAPs have the time or manpower to review a representative sample. At this time, only the state of Pennsylvania mandates a minimum number of calls. Many PSAPs have formal procedures for the number of calls that must be reviewed and the process for handing these reviews.

More important than the number of calls is choosing the right calls to evaluate.  If you simply randomly select calls you may not find many coaching opportunities.

Call Types for Quality EVALUATION
Call type Rationale
Emergency calls The most important responsibility is to handle true emergencies – which can be defined from incident coding or whether or not the call was dispatched.  In very small centers call takers may also be required to take police calls, such as vehicle and driver checks.
Long handle time While there should never be a limit on how much time it takes to resolve an issue, call takers that consistently take longer than the norm may need coaching in CAD skills, basic information gathering, call control, and multi-tasking ability.
Unique incidents In this age of cell phones one highway accident may generate 20 or more calls.  The most instructive calls are those that were handled end-to-end by one agent or the agent was among the first to take the call
Repeat calls Short-cycle repeat calls from the same number may indicate that insufficient information was communicated during the initial call.  For example, the address was entered incorrectly causing a delay in service delivery
A mix of police, fire, and rescue Each type of incident requires a different knowledge base and sometimes different processing methods.  Police calls generally outnumber fire and rescue by four to one.
Time of day   The same agent may work different shifts.  Call handling skills may be different during the quite late night  hours than busy daytime hours
Skills mix In smaller PSAPs the call taker may also be the dispatcher.  Different skill sets are required and different rating forms.
A mix of call origination locations Some areas are more crime-prone than others. The call selection process must be equitable.
Non-call work Call takers have other responsibilities besides talking calls.  The evaluation process should consider mastery of the applications and incident reporting
TTY Calls Federal law requires