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Measuring the Un-Measurable

By Kathy Marshall, Director of Quality
And Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

pig with lipstick

Quality, Excellence, Passion . . . You Can Have It All
Part 4 of 4

In this series on ensuring exceptional quality in the service industry, I’ve covered defining and implementing quality as well as what to measure. Now let’s dig into how to measure it. If your organization is like Decision Toolbox (DT), there are lots of intangibles that aren’t easy to measure, but they are still important.

Let’s start by looking at monitoring quality during a client engagement. I use “monitoring” rather than “measuring” — a laser micrometer is useful in a factory, but doesn’t help when we’re dealing with a hiring manager’s (HM) perception of quality.

Stay in the Negative

You can’t rely on metrics and checkpoints alone. If a project isn’t going well, you need to know now. This is another good reason to hire people who are passionate about exceptional performance (see Part 2 of this series). Tools and quality checks are the skeleton of your program, but the heart is professionals who recognize a potential gap and respond with initiative.

You also can encourage ALL your staff to “stay in the negative.” While it’s wonderful to hear what you’re doing well, it can be even more valuable to hear what a client thinks you could do better. And it’s not just the client-facing staff; quality is important in everything your staff does, and everything they do impacts quality, whether clients see it or not.

Grab your Tool Belt

Still, tools are important. I wrote about DT’s Quality Self Service tool in Part 3, which monitors trigger metrics like candidate flow, match of skills to requirements, etc. This tool helps ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Because we make a point of discovering what is important to each HM, we can “tune” the sensitivity of the various triggers to customize the tool for each project.

And you need quality checks, of course. At DT the quality team reaches out to a client two weeks into every search, whether there is an apparent problem or not. Try this approach: “It looks like things are going well from our perspective, but what is your take? What can we do better?”


Satisfaction Surveys: An Imperfect Solution

Regarding overall company performance, customer satisfaction surveys are a time-honored tool. Still, I’m not sure they capture all the data we want. We send them to both HMs and candidates, and we have great numbers. But we don’t get a response for every one we send. Is that because non-responders are happy but don’t have time, or is it because they are unhappy?

The most valuable information doesn’t always come from the loudest; it may be hidden within those who are silent. Even if only a small percentage of non-responders were unhappy, their feedback would be QA gold. This is the voice of the customer we NEED to hear.

What can you do? Make it as easy as possible for people to respond. Just as each client has different ideas about quality, each may prefer a different way to provide feedback. In addition to sending fast, easy online surveys, invite clients to call you voice-to-voice. Look into text-based surveys, or an automated phone process.


Go for the Gold

Do NOT assume that non-response = a satisfied customer. You might be putting lipstick on a pig without even knowing it! Instead, stay in the negative and assume that the client is unhappy. Find a way to connect with that client: reach out via email, via phone, text. Persist. No doubt many of you face this same challenge, and I’d love to hear some of your creative ideas. You can use the comment box, below, or contact me directly.

Quality is a journey of continuous improvement and the bar at DT is always rising — sometimes I feel like I’m getting shorter! Measuring the un-measurable is vital to our success, even if it’s a little like trying to measure a cloud billowing in the breeze. Of course, the important things often don’t come easily.

If you take nothing else away from this blog series, I hope you take this at least:

  • Bring passion and set your ego aside.
  • Be customer-centric and dig into the negative.
  • Remain nimble to make positive changes on a dime.
  • And never, ever try to put lipstick on a pig.
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One Response to “Measuring the Un-Measurable”

  1. June 18, 2013 at 6:36 am, Measuring What’s Important | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

    […] in Part 4: how to measure the un-measurable. Tags: @decisiontoolbox, corporate culture, […]


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