During a recent best-practice study, a call-center certification tale piqued my curiosity. I must admit to becoming a little jaded because of all the call-center certifications that have come and gone in my 20-plus years in this industry. But the one was different.
The best-practice study partner talked about his J.D. Power and Associates certification. What struck me was how this executive enthusiastically described his experience, which included multiple stages of assessment and random surveys of recent callers to assess customer satisfaction levels. To cinch the deal in my mind, this exec related that when J.D. Power learned of the company’s offshore outsourcing partnership, it insisted on auditing the partner. J.D. Power assessors would not recognize excellence until they were sure the company’s customer experienced consistent quality.
No, I don’t have any affiliation with J.D. Power certification. But because I was so struck by the executive’s excitement and the thoroughness of the certification process, I felt I had to write about it. The certification involves a two-part standards test. Organizations pay a fee to be certified, but they pay for each step separately and do not proceed to the next step without passing the previous one.
The first step is a site audit during which J.D. Power looks for the presence or absence of key policies and procedures. Customer surveys are the second step. J.D. Power surveys a random sample of callers for each center or application directly after the customer’s interaction with the organization. Centers must score above the 80th percentile to pass the customer satisfaction step.
Investing in certification isn’t for everyone—some do not have the time, the money, or the level of quality. But if you have been investing in your policies, procedures, and customer satisfaction, it might be time to benchmark your performance, and J.D. Power certification would be a great way to do it. I don’t know if investing in the certification would earn you an instant credential. No matter what the outcome, however, the valuable feedback you receive would certainly help you prioritize your investment opportunities.
Kathryn Jackson is president of Ocean City, NJ-based contact center consultancy Response Design Corp. (www.responsedesign.com).
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