In 2015, after nearly half a century of evolution, the 911 Association (NENA: the National Emergency Number Association) introduced a groundbreaking standard for Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement.
This long-awaited unified standard now serves as the bedrock of excellence for 911 operation centers and the exceptional staff who bring it to life.
While the Standards provide comprehensive recommendations, they invite interpretation, sparking the need to strategically explore and unravel NENA’s central principles for further development and the delivery of exceptional quality-controlled 911 service.
The 911 operators who bravely answer incoming calls stand at the forefront of dispatch and play a pivotal role in ensuring service excellence. The extent to which operators skillfully navigate calls and continuously enhance their performance to meet rigorous quality criteria directly determines the level of optimal service delivered.
Just like any skill, reviewing past performance is crucial for learning from both successes and mistakes, enabling operators to adapt and improve. It is essential for Quality Assurance (QA) personnel, the champions who oversee performance standards and ongoing training for 911 operators, to thoroughly review each call with operators, encompassing the entire interaction and not just the initial intake.
Why? Because opportunities to handle calls effectively and impact the intake portion present themselves before and after the initial contact. By reviewing the entire call together, operators and QA personnel gain a comprehensive understanding of how to navigate calls optimally. This collaborative approach ensures both QA personnel and operators have insights to improve their performance effectively.
It is vital for Quality Assurance personnel to foster an atmosphere where operators understand that monitoring and random call reviews (representing a minimum of 2% of all calls) are not invasive acts of surveillance or micromanagement. Instead, they serve as a valuable tool for operators to learn from their own performance, leading to improved service for callers and enhanced ease and efficiency for operators. QA monitoring and review must be framed as a mutually beneficial win-win proposition for both callers and operators.
Operators thrive when granted “freedom within a framework.” While objective criteria demand adherence, allowing little room for deviation, certain subjective variables may not apply uniformly to every call. Operators should be empowered to exercise their judgment in navigating these variables, ensuring a personalized approach that best suits each caller’s needs.
Transparent assessment criteria and scoring for QA monitoring and review are paramount. Operators should have visibility into the evaluation process, including both objective and subjective factors. Transparent assessments prevent operators from feeling blindsided, unable to connect their scores with their performance, thus hindering targeted improvement efforts.
Without assessing and providing transparency for both objective and subjective factors, such as correct address reception and operator composure in high-stress situations, the critical interrelationships between these factors remain ambiguous and untapped for continuous improvement.
QA personnel should also recognize and cater to diverse learning styles exhibited by operators. Visual learners, for instance, can benefit from performance graphs or charts, while audio learners can gain insights by actively listening to their calls with specific criteria in mind. “Relational” learners, who learn through emotional rapport, thrive when met with warm and supportive attitudes from QA agents. By incorporating various learning styles into training programs, QA personnel optimize the performance of operators with diverse learning preferences.
Timely reviews and constructive feedback are essential for growth. As front-line emergency personnel, operators possess invaluable boots-on-the-ground perspectives that continually inform QA personnel. Reviews should foster ongoing dialogues rather than one-sided communications, enabling both operators and QA personnel to mutually enrich each other’s knowledge for ongoing calibration and refinement of QA standards.
Lastly, the integration of cutting-edge data analytics into QA systems is paramount. Human QA personnel can only monitor a fraction of total calls, even with optimal resource allocation. However, advanced data analytics systems have the power to track and analyze 100% of calls, uncovering critical trends that may remain unseen in smaller sample sizes. By harnessing the potential of data analytics, hundreds of criteria can be effectively managed, consolidated into manageable categories, and prioritized for optimal service delivery.
Welcome to an era where 911 Quality Assurance is unleashed, revolutionizing the 911 system through an unwavering commitment to excellence and continuous improvement.