Inside the Quality-First Contact Center

Leaning In to Nonconformity

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We're celebrating a milestone! We've earned ISO 9001:2008 certification for our quality management system.


It took us 18 months and a lot of hard work. We made a big investment in allocating resources. This is not for the faint of heart or light pockets.

I've written before that I don't want our mission statement and vision statement to be lip service. I want them to ring true at every level of the company. To make sure we are living up to them, we looked for third-party certification that we have good processes in place.

But when I say we earned it, I mean it

I'll be honest that not everyone here at Callzilla was happy when we began our preparation for the ISO audit. This was a big change for us, and the work of refining our management processes to fit ISO standards came on top of everyone's regular, full-time job.

Each team member, whether in Florida or Colombia, Operations or Finance... customer care rep or President... had to participate. Each person could be pulled aside for interviews, tests and spot-checks.


In getting ready for an ISO audit, any time you don't fulfill a requirement it's called a "nonconformity." It's a tedious exercise to resolve a nonconformity. It creates discomfort.


Fortunately, we have a really strong team that has understood. Once we got past the initial hesitancy, everybody has been on board and pulled their weight.

Creating discomfort

In getting ready for an ISO audit, any time you don't fulfill a requirement it's called a "nonconformity." We had to call ourselves on nonconformities, and it's a very powerful tool. You have to resolve each and every one according to the system, showing how you fixed it and the indicators that it is indeed fixed.

It's a tedious exercise to resolve a nonconformity. It creates discomfort.

That cuts all ways. As the leader of our company’s strategic direction, for example, I can be tough on Operations, IT, and Sales if we're not meeting objectives. But my performance is just as visible as everyone else's.

So it is a way of creating accountability, and that's healthy. Right?

Metrics obsession

I have to confess, though: when you dive deep into the performance numbers, it can get addictive. I like being able to pinpoint where we can make Callzilla better.


I can be tough on Operations, IT, and Sales. But my performance is just as visible as everyone else's.


And ISO certification is not something that you fulfill on a one-time basis and then you are done. One of the main ingredients in ISO certification is continuous improvement. We have to benchmark monthly and quarterly performance versus objectives as well as recertify ourselves every year.

If getting certified is hard, getting recertified is even harder in some respects. Our performance still is not as good as I want it to be.

So this should help us. I'm told it usually takes a year after certification for a company to see the true results.

And the standard is changing this year. We qualified for ISO 9001:2008. But they just finalized version 2015. We hope to have that certification by the end of this year. It puts more emphasis on business continuity, and very few companies around the world have been certified for this version. We hired Sandra Valenzuela as the full-time Director of Quality Management to handle this initiative.

Now that we've "graduated", I'm ready for us to go on and get our advanced degree. ;-)) - Neal



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