Placing Test Calls, and Developing a Scorecard for Results

Something two of our customers have started recently, and been kind enough to share with me, has been the placing of Test Calls on a Helpdesk/Service Desk. I've used their comments to prepare this Blog post (so thanks!)

By Test Calls, I mean that a number 'fake' or 'manufactured' calls are placed anonymously and a number of aspects of the call analysed.

For me what is interesting is that I'd not encountered any company that regularly placed Test Calls up until two years ago: since then there has been quite an upswing.

The reason is an increased value being placed on intangibles - stuff you simply can't measure directly with normal metrics, and a desire to more fully understand the customer experience. You'll find more about this below, but by intangibles I mean clarity of communication, courtesy, and so on. Whilst at the moment I'm seeing this in the 'paid support' world, it probably isn't long before it crosses over into the in-house support function.

Some Tips for placing Test Calls

1. Announce What You Will be Doing. Make sure everyone knows Test Calls will be made, and from what date they can expect them (but there's no need to tell them on what days, or announce them beforehand).

2. Keep it Legal. If you are recording the conversation, you will may need to advise staff of this - check the legal situation regarding disclosure of recording in your country. Regardless of the legal requirement, I think you should advise of recording as a courtesy.

3. Set your goals clearly. Make sure you are clear about what 'success' factors you are looking for in your test call. Success factors might include:

  • Courtesy
  • Speed of answering (if you don't have independent statistics from your telephone system)
  • Ability of the Service Desk Agent to speak clearly. For instance, did they control the call? If they are using headsets, is the mic correctly positioned? Was there an excess of background noise?
  • If you have a script was the script followed?

The closer you can get to a scorecard you complete at the time of the call the better. Try something that allows a simply 1-5 score to be recorded against each call aspect, along with and caller's notes.

4. Keep the call simple. Your best bet is not to make a call that involves something elaborate, but rather something simple - maybe a password reset, or a printer problem - something you might hope would be dealt with well.

5. Make Sure You Explain Why. Be clear about why you are placing the test calls - for quality and training purposes. Be clear that poor results will result in training as opposed to dismissal.

6. Create a Test Call Calendar, so that your Test Calls are placed at different times of day, and at reasonable intervals, and ideally when different members of staff are taking calls.

7. If something unsatisfactory is detected and a follow-up required, make sure you do this within 24 hours of the test call being placed.