Customer Service Diversity Career Stories

Quality control specialist overcomes odds: helps others succeed professionally

This quality control monitor in a call center has overcome poverty, racism, a broken home, and growing up in a neighborhood riddled with gang violence, and has found a career he loves helping others succeed at their jobs.

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in that field?
My job title is Quality Monitor. I have been in this position for just over 5 years.

Would you describe the things you do on a typical day?
The easiest, and most effective way to describe my job is to repeat a phrase that we all have heard at one time or another:

“This call may be monitored and recorded for quality assurance and accuracy purposes.”

I am sure when the majority of people hear that phrase, it is simply regarded as some form of jargon that really doesn’t mean anything. But, the fact of the matter is that calls really are monitored and recorded for quality assurance and accuracy purposes. Each day, I pull up a list of calls recorded from the past day and listen to them for some key elements. I have access to the employees computer screen, so I can see what they see. As the call progresses, I follow along, making sure the questions are answered correctly, the right steps are taken, and most importantly, insure that the customer is treated with the utmost respect. I grade the employees performance, and send that information to their supervisor for immediate praise, or punishment, dependent upon the situation. I also take this information, and compile it for upper management for trending reports.

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what response worked best?
Being an African American man, I had previously been discriminated against in other jobs. I used those experiences as motivation to work even harder, and become better in my trade. The fortunate part about my current position is that there is no room for interpretation. The facts speak for themselves. If an employee delivers less than stellar customer service, it is evident during the call, a fact that cannot be disputed.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What would it take to increase that rating?
I am extremely satisfied with my job. Of course, there is always room for improvement. Sometimes we are a bit under-staffed, which can make the end of the month very stressful. And who would complain about more money? Overall, I would give my job an 8 out of 10.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?
I learned the hard way that not everyone enjoys being critiqued. Personally, I want my supervisor to let me know immediately if I am not meeting expectations. What other way is there to know what you need to do better? But, there are those that do not appreciate being told that they are not performing up to standards. Fairly early in my monitoring career, I was approached in the parking lot by an employee that was not happy with the scores he had been given. Though the conversation started peacefully, it soon escalated to a physical confrontation. Luckily, company security was made aware very early on of potential violence, and the employee was engaged by security before he could engage me. It was a good lesson to learn, and a reminder that we each have our own temperaments, talents, and convictions, and it is important to know how to communicate with someone while keeping this in mind.

What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
It sure would have been nice if they had taught office etiquette in school. There are so many things you don’t learn in Corporate America until you do it wrong and someone brings it to your attention.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I ended up in this position due to my experience in customer service. I spent a few years on the phone and was considered one of the best in the company. After numerous commendations my boss recommended me for a monitoring position. Upper management reviewed my record, and agreed with his recommendation. If I had known management was looking to fill the position, I would have started working towards it earlier.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
There really aren’t that many strange things that have happened to me during my tenure. I was once approached by an employee offering to park my car for me in the morning so I wouldn’t have so far to walk if I would give him higher scores. Weird, I know! Needless to say, I did not take him up on his offer.

On a good day when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?
Most days I leave the office with a great sense of accomplishment. I know that at the end of the day, I am ensuring that customers calling in are getting the same service I want when I call in to another company.

When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?
There are times when absolutely nothing seems to go right, and those are some of the worst days. This is typically due to system issues. Calls not recording, computers not loading, etc. When this happens I have to sit with the employees side by side and grade their calls while they are on them. This can be very distracting for the employee, and somewhat uncomfortable for both of us. Those are some pretty tough days, to say the least.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?

My job is mildly stressful, but nothing compared to other high stress jobs, like law enforcement or firefighters. It really isn’t hard to separate work and home. Although, if I have to call in to customer service, such as for my cell phone or cable, it can be like being at work all over again!

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?
My job pays around $30,000 a year. I have to say I feel adequately compensated for the amount of work that I do, although I wouldn’t complain if my boss offered me a raise.

What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?
The most rewarding moment I had in my current position came when an employee who was close to being terminated due to poor performance was awarded a certificate for outstanding achievement, and when he received it he thanked me in front of the department, saying it was because of my diligent scoring that he was able to turn his performance around.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
I am not sure if my four year degree in Literature helped me in getting this position. I do know for sure that my people skills are essential.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
I would advise a friend looking to get into this line of work to really consider the fact that people aren’t going to always be open to what you have to tell them. But, in the long run, it will be in their best interest to take what you say for what it is worth.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I tend to take about three weeks of vacation a year. I think it is enough, and I get a chance to relax, without getting too backed up.

Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
The common misunderstanding I would want to clear up about my job is, like stated before, there really are people listening to calls and providing feedback to the employees.

Does this job move your heart? If not, what does?
My job definitely moves my heart. I know I am helping to make someone’s day each time they call in to one of our employees.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
In five years, I would like to be CEO of my company. Sounds cliché, but I enjoy the company I work for, and I would love to take the company in some new directions!

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
When considering my experiences and accomplishments, I like people to know that I was actually born and raised in one of the poorest communities in the United States. I survived gangs, poverty, and a broken home, and managed to accomplish all of this!