Quality Assurance in Public Safety

Posted Tue, August 8, 2017
Recording equipment has been perceived as an accessory for a long time in the public safety market. Most don’t use their system to its full potential and usually are not aware of what can be accomplished with these systems. To shine some light on this, I’ll focus this article on one item that’s often misunderstood: Quality Assurance.
I have been working with Public Safety customer's for over 22 years. In the beginning, it was close to impossible to sell the advantages of a quality assurance program. Today, with the advancement of NG911 and the possibility of funding/grants tied to a QA program in place, even the smallest PSAPS are now looking to implement them. Hopefully, this article can be of some help.
Over the years, there are a few things that I've seen labeled (incorrectly) as a "Quality Assurance Program". Here are the top 4:
  1. Flip/Guide cards and SW (describing proper procedures for a specific incident).
  2. Internal procedure guidelines.
  3. Situational training (Training on specific situations, like a shooter, bomb, chemical spill, medical, etc...)
  4. Standards training (Training related to standards and procedures).
Numbers 1 & 2 establish standards, procedures and protocol. Numbers 3 and 4 are simply training. This is only the starting point. You've established what kind of QUALITY is expected, and the training needed to meet expectations, but that's it. How do you know your standards are being met? How do you know who needs training? How do you know what kind of training is needed?
Unless you are examining call takers/dispatchers and scoring the results, you have no ASSURANCE that procedures are being followed and standards are being met.
Proper Quality Assurance involves the above to be already established PLUS:
  1. Record your agents - You can't evaluate what you can't hear or see.
  2. Establish Skill Sets - Examples would be Information Gathering, Accuracy, Demeanor, Call Control, etc.... This will help you to drill down on specific skills that need improvement.
  3. Establish Targets/Goals (or KPI’s) - These are measurable values (taken from grading & call stats) against those targets you want your agents to hit in important areas. Examples would be: Percentage of calls answered within the first 20 seconds, ability to calm & control the situation, accuracy of information, accuracy of dispatched resource, etc…
  4. Grade your agents - By grading your agents, you now have ASSURANCE that targets are being met and procedures are followed.
  5. Report - Not just call stats but evaluations as well. Reporting will provide an overhead picture of team performance, trends, service levels as well as a more targeted view of agent skills. This will also provide you with the information to put the Right Number of People with the Right Skills in the Right Place at the Right Time.
  6. Targeted Training - Reports can provide insight into a drop in a certain skill. An example would be an agent that starts to score lower in the Call Control section. You can now focus your training on that skill instead of a blanket training program that is the same for every situation.
  7. Establish a reward plan to recognize high performers, and to encourage improvement. This provides positive motivation and improves moral.
Recording, Monitoring, Grading, Reporting and Training dive much deeper than most realize. Putting all of this in place will drive up your overall quality of service, moral and improve employee retention. Employee retention is paramount. Commercial contact centers usually know, down to the dollar, what their cost is to hire, train and ramp up a new employee. I’ve seen these costs run as high as over $7,000 per agent. With this expense in mind, it’s important that turnover is low to make the most out of your investment.
This is only one item that I’ve focused in on. There are many more areas, with these systems, that can improve your service and make your job easier!
By Sean Miller, Vista Com
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