The Disadvantages Of Using Spreadsheets In Your QA Process

Customer Experience

Spreadsheets have their place, but there are a multitude of reasons why they shouldn’t form the backbone of your quality assurance process. It's fine to whip one up if you want to do a quick overview of your data or list the company contact info, but spreadsheets are not to be used as databases and were never intended to be.

Relying on spreadsheets to store your QA data creates a lot of problems, especially as your company grows. Some managers think that they’re a time-tested method – and it's true, they have been in use for decades – but they're simply not equipped to handle the demands of the modern business world.

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Spreadsheets don't give you real-time data

For call center quality assurance you need to monitor and analyze operations data such as:

  • Call response information
  • Sales conversions
  • Team member KPIs
  • Customer feedback

In order to analyze data via spreadsheet, it has to first be entered. Manual data entry is time-consuming and prone to errors. Worst of all, you have to work with information that can be days, weeks, even months old, as you wait for the spreadsheet to be updated. It's difficult to make accurate quarterly predictions and analyze trends with last month's data.

Having to rely on old data makes training and coaching more difficult as well. Your agents benefit most from feedback given right after a customer interaction, while it's still fresh in their minds. It's hard to make changes in response to customer criticism when you don't even remember what happened.

Related: How To Create A Feedback Culture In Your Call Center


Generating reports is difficult

With spreadsheets, data tends to be stored in several different places. Say you want to create a report that requires data from the CRM, training, quality, and incentive programs.

Every program has its own spreadsheet, probably maintained by different people within your organization.

You'd need to ask them to export the data, and then try to consolidate it all into one workable spreadsheet.

Each manipulation creates opportunities for error. The formulas used to calculate data are difficult to learn and create, and might not transfer properly to a new spreadsheet. If you need to add a new column you risk disorganizing the entire thing.

Team leaders waste time fiddling with spreadsheets instead of managing their teams. Instead of coaching and motivating their agents they're doing data entry and checking for errors.

Related: 6 Harmful Coaching Practices That Are Hurting Your Customer Service

Quick decision-making is almost impossible since you can't see what the data looks like from moment to moment. By the time you're able to gather the data you need to make an informed decision, the opportunity might have passed you by.


Spreadsheets do not support scaling

Just the opposite – the larger and more complex the spreadsheet, the greater the chances for problems to occur. Errors are more likely and more difficult to find. Finding data that's relevant to your current concern is harder. Information is likely to become even more distributed, needing more effort to gather together.


Spreadsheets are open to malicious manipulation

Anyone with access to the computer can change the information on a spreadsheet. The program doesn't record these changes. Someone could get in and alter the raw data, or the formulas and dependencies, and no one would know. Without an audit trail, you can’t gauge the trustworthiness of your data.


Collaboration presents problems

Designing forecasts, budgets, reports, and business plans is generally a group activity. People from different departments come together to share information. If you're using spreadsheets, this data will need to be exchanged via email. Members of your management team will be sending different versions of the files back and forth and it's easy to get confused and select the wrong file.


It's tough to staff properly using spreadsheets

Keeping track of your team members' skill sets is difficult on a spreadsheet, especially when you take changing staff into account. Scheduling properly around the fluctuating volume of anticipated customers can be a nightmare.

Spreadsheets don’t have the flexibility to make the dynamic adjustments necessary to properly staff a call center. Any change needs to be manually entered. A team leader should be leading the team, not trying to make a spreadsheet work right.  


Spreadsheets don't last well over the long-term

Spreadsheets need to be backed up religiously. If your computer crashes you might lose hours of work. A major disaster, such a virus infection, can become catastrophic because data recovery for spreadsheets is extremely difficult. Over time you risk losing older data altogether. How do you store spreadsheets from last year or five years ago? You can put them on a flash drive, but what happens if you lose it?

Business changes are difficult to incorporate into your spreadsheets. If you change your quality scorecard questions you'll have to delete the old data or create an entirely new spreadsheet.

Related: 8 Steps To Creating An Effective Call Center Scorecard

Staffing changes create their own riddles. Do you delete columns for agents who no longer work for you, and add columns for new agents? If you delete the records for former agents how can you monitor the progress of your training program? If you don't remove the records the spreadsheet becomes increasingly unwieldy and difficult to manage.

When a new team leader comes in there can be a steep learning curve as they try to understand how to use your spreadsheet system. A spreadsheet can get a bit quirky over time as various users personalize it for their own style of working. On the flip side, not everyone understands how formulas and macros function. Some people have difficulty learning how to create their own. Spreadsheets are definitely not a plug-and-play option.

Accurate, timely data capture is an important part of modern data processes. You need testable up-to-the-minute reports to keep on top of today’s fast-paced multi-channel customer service environment.

A dedicated quality assurance program removes the need for tedious, time-consuming data entry work. It frees you up so you can spend your time with the team doing other important tasks. You can generate reports, using your choice of variables, with a few clicks of the mouse. The program keeps a complete edit log, and everyone with access can easily collaborate in real time, no matter their physical location.

Related: How To Build A Successful Quality Assurance Framework

Spreadsheets were the state of the art thirty years ago, but modern business problems require modern solutions.   

Are you still using spreadsheets in your organization? What are you waiting for to make the change?

Jade Longelin Jade Longelin

Jade Longelin is a digital marketing specialist. When she's not working with PlayVox or her own projects, she's either traveling or spending time with her dog.

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