Think about how much of your time is spent searching and selecting the calls you need to audit. Then how long it takes to enter these results in to a spreadsheet and then transfer that data in to another report – only to be told you’re not meeting your monthly targets. Sound familiar? And this doesn’t even include the time you need to allocate to mentoring!
We all know that ongoing quality monitoring of call takers and dispatchers is essential to ensuring the highest possible quality standards, but the reality is, for many emergency communications centers, staying on top of the process is a near impossible task. In fact, in recent conversations I had with two such centers, both routinely fell 50% short of their audit targets which were as high as 450 calls per month.
The quality monitoring process is inherently time consuming. A big part of it involves finding the calls you want to audit in the first place. This can be very subjective, and even vary across different agencies or over time as new compliance requirements emerge, or situations arise that dictate a need for closer scrutiny and training.
For example, let’s say an agency receives a complaint about a domestic violence call that was not handled correctly. In addition to reviewing that specific call, the agency might decide to proactively review all such calls for a period of time going forward to ensure that proper protocols are being followed.
Today, zeroing in on domestic violence calls, and other types of calls you might want to audit, is an entirely manual process – so much so that ironically, it can leave little time on the back end for mentoring, the vital part of the process that drives improvement. This can be especially untenable for larger agencies that handle many thousands or tens of thousands of calls weekly. Finding specific types of calls can be like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
So what options do agencies have?
The first option really isn’t one. They can make no change at all and continue to fall short of their set targets. However, this isn’t really just about the numbers. It’s about proactively identifying potential shortcomings (whether human or process-based) as early as possible, to try and prevent future tragic incidents such as that which occurred in Scotland earlier this year.
Another option is to increase headcount in the quality monitoring (audit) team. But in an era of savage cost cutting (especially to non-frontline operations) getting sign-off for additional manpower is unlikely.
The final option – which in my personal opinion is the smartest – is to let technology do some of the work for you.
Today, auditing specific types of calls requires a two part process. First, you have to manually find the call records for specific codes (e.g. domestic violence) in the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system. They you use the time and date for each of those calls to manually try to find those recorded calls in a separate system.
Through the power of CAD/recording system integration, that process can be significantly streamlined, by just adding an integration layer onto technology you already have. With the systems integrated, you simply input the code for the type of call you want to evaluate (“robbery” calls for example) and immediately find all of the calls you’re looking for. You can even refine your search by specific call dates/times and durations. This cuts the previous multi-step manual search process down to seconds.
It logically follows that the time saved is time that managers can now devote to doing more audits, identifying knowledge gaps, mentoring and making improvements – which is beneficial to everyone.