Whether you hear the term “quality” in your organization, as in your manager says you must produce quality work, or you encounter it as a consumer of a service or a product, the term can be interpreted differently depending on the scenario. In this article, I would like to explore the term “quality” and what it means for us at Workplace Options, a global employee wellbeing provider with a mission to help people and strengthen their workplace performance.
Before I proceed, let me define the term quality to ensure we all reflect on it in the same manner:
“The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.” (Oxford Dictionary)
When an organization sets up its’ mission, vision and values, the work that takes place on the ground should reflect those things. Of course, when executed appropriately, the reward is high.
At Workplace Options, our mission is to help people emotionally, practically and physically…………………………………………………..our interactions with individuals, at least in the beginning, are over the phone and not face-to-face.
This is an article I recently wrote and got published around how the company I work for looks into Quality and Service governance in a contact centre environment.
At Workplace Options, we help people emotionally, practically and physically. Each type of support is catered to the presenting issue the end user brings to the call.
The context of our service evolves around the fact that end users reach out to us because they are at a stage where support is needed. The interaction at this point is mainly over the phone and not face to face. This automatically eliminates more than 50% of the communication facilitator – body language, and puts the emphasis on the tone of voice and the words used on the call. Communication is considered most effective when it is delivered within three dimensions as defined by Dr. Mehrabrian and Dr. Ferris (1967). A research that has defined the effectiveness of communication numerically and has since been built upon by several researchers. These dimensions are elaborated in Figure 1.0 Communication Dimension.
So it is important to keep that in mind when services are being delivered. The level of excellence at this point encompasses more than one area.
For instance, if someone calls us because they are going through a stressful period in their life, the level of excellence of the service becomes a combination of the following:
- The level of engagement the counsellor has on the phone with them
- The customer service skills demonstrated on the call
- The support the caller received throughout the call
- The clinical quality of the support provided
- The appropriate documentation and follow up of the case after the call ends
These are five main items identified only from the initial interaction between the member of the service and a Workplace Options employee. You can imagine that the list increases once an external provider gets involved in the case to provide further support.
So how can an organisation ensure that it is delivering a suitable level of excellence, in other words, a quality service?
The Chartered Quality Institute has identified five core competencies that each Quality Professional should acquire. These competencies are a reflection of the areas and steps an organisation should take to ensure the delivery of Quality service or product. These competencies are (Figure 2.0 CQI Competency Framework):
- Understanding the context of the organisation
- Ensuring a governance framework is set up
- Set up assurance processes to measure the system in place supporting the delivery of the service / product
- Identify areas for improvement and continually do so to ensure customer satisfaction
- Obtain leadership skills to address all of the above areas in an influential manner
So how does WPO set up the governance of the service?
Our quality measures are designed to assess the service on daily basis and from four different angles. This helps our experts who deliver the service, their line managers, the quality managers and the executives assess the service in detail and identify key areas to focus on.
These measures are audits, issues, customer’s direct input and mystery shoppers. Figure 3.0 illustrates these four measures.
Each of these measures are designed in detail to address the requirements of all stakeholders involved, whether internally or externally. An audit programme aims to deliver a customised approach to assess each of the main products we deliver while maintaining the company standards as a whole. A complaint policy and procedure is in place to review and address any breakdown reported to ensure all our customers are appropriately supported and breakdowns are rectified in a timely manner. Without our customers telling us directly how they think we did supporting them, we will not be able to progress with our services. We gather feedback from our customers on every suitable occasion. And finally, we have a mystery shopper programme that evaluates the service using the same company standards that we use in our internal audit programme.
For an organisation to operate in a sustainable environment that encourages growth, it has to deliver services that are relevant and well received. Quality, or the level of excellence, of a service is product is highly dependent on how this service is assessed proactively before it gets released to the end user as well as after. When a company commits to deliver a Quality service, it must have the policies and procedures in place to foster such an environment.
Mehrabian, A. and Ferris, S. R. (1967). ‘Inference of attitudes from nonverbal communication in two channels’, Journal of Consulting Psychology, 31(3), pp. 248–252. doi: 10.1037/h0024648.
CQI, 2019, The Chartered Quality Institute, Competency Framework (2019) www.quality.org
Oxford University Press, (2019). Oxford Dictionary, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com