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National Council of

Social Security Management Associations

TSC Connection: Quality Initiative

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Office of Telephone Services (OTS) recently unveiled their latest quality initiative – the implementation of call recording.  The agency will record all calls handle through the National 800 Number Network (N8NN).  The agency will record the audio on all calls and will randomly select 10% of calls where the recording will also capture all the computer screens used by the agent during the call.  The recordings will be stored for 60 days.  


This initiative is one that Management and Customer Service Representatives (CSR) have anticipated and agree will be a valuable tool in Service Observation (SO) discussions.  The agency currently conducts unannounced SOs in accordance with the July 26, 2006 Memorandum Of Understanding regarding the National Service Observation Process in order to ensure courteous, accurate, and efficient service to all callers.  Accuracy, courtesy, and efficiency are the performance principles for all agents and the SO is the litmus test for consistent implementation of the standards. Employees have at times challenged the observer on the write-up of how a particular call was handled.  With the implementation of call recording and the potential for screen views, the element of “he said/she said” is eliminated and we can then truly focus on the call quality and service to the public.


In addition to the SO process and managerial monitoring from on-the-floor presence, the N8NN has another quality initiative already in place - Post-Call Surveys.  The survey is available to all N8NN callers at the conclusion of the call.  The automated post-call survey provides immediate insight into the caller’s experience.  There are three potential versions of the survey that focus on whether the caller was satisfied with the service and a rating scale to compare the representative’s service to “ideal customer service.”  OTS is in the process of proposing three additional questions to specifically capture representative interaction.  OTS has not confirmed how the questions will read; however, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved possible survey questions.  The questions also have a rating scale used to determine if the representative was knowledgeable, respectful, and clear in their explanation.  Surveys can reveal caller issues that otherwise may not of been known to the agency, which enables OTS to address the issues and be proactive in evaluating and improving the N8NN.  At this time, OTS has not added any additional questions specific to the representative.


Implementation of call recording will take approximately twelve to sixteen weeks, so it will be some time before we can fully appreciate the incorporation of this new initiative.  In the meantime, Spring is in the air and historically lower call volume days may be on the horizon.  This means more time for refresher technical training for our agents and the opportunity to improve and calibrate the quality of service on the N8NN.  Making time available for essential training is one way we ensure the current and forthcoming quality initiatives deliver successful results.


By Maria Ash

Chicago Region

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