Let me tell you a story about the time that one question disrupted weeks of work.
This story takes place back at my old agency when we were in the process of onboarding a new client. I was telling him all about our speech analytics tool, which we were all impressed with. We thought he would be impressed, too, so of course, I was excited to talk about it.
We had gotten to the point in the meeting when I was telling him about all the things our speech analytics tool could do: if something is terrible or good, if an agent says something wrong or right. We get a lot of great information from it.
That's when he turns to me and asks: "How do you know if it works?"
I'm sorry, what?
I was so surprised by the question that he had to ask me again: how do you know if it works? How do you know that it isn't giving you false positives or false negatives? How can you trust the data that comes out of it?
How it works? The conversation stopped.
I had no idea how to answer him.
I knew when I listened to calls that the results matched what the analytics tool told me I would find. Was I quantifying that? I was not. What's more, I wasn’t actively looking - and had no process in place - to find things that didn’t match.
I realized right at that moment that I thought about our tool as something simple, like a light switch. You turn it on and information comes out of it. I couldn't explain it let alone verify its output. But that's what he was asking me to do.
I'll have to get back to you, I told him. And then I set everything else aside and put all my effort towards trying to figure out how to answer his question.
First, I read anything I could find that might relate to his question. I thought about it for hours. After reviewing and re-reviewing the original question several times, I gathered my team for a WTF meeting - as in, WTF are we going to say to our client? I asked if they had any ideas to help us figure out what he was talking about, but they didn't know any more about this than I did.
That one question destroyed two weeks of work.
Did I get a response together for him? Yes, but it wasn't great and it took the better part of two weeks to get together!
I got caught flat-footed. I wasn't ready for the question and I didn't know of anyone I could turn to to ask about it. As a result, I had to do it myself and it burned up a lot of work time.
Sometimes, one question can destroy your work plans for days or weeks.
You may not have ever gotten this specific question before, but I suspect that this story is familiar. Compliance professionals sometimes have to stop what they're doing and find answers to tricky questions. Maybe they aren't even compliance questions, like the one our client had for me. In many cases, compliance officers need to understand and research the question before they can even begin to find an answer. And when these questions come up, compliance officers sometimes have to spend entire days researching them.
Of course, it's not reasonable to think that I should have been able to anticipate every single question I got. But there is one thought I have about this that still bothers me…
It should not have taken days or weeks to research this question.
I wish I could have just asked other compliance people and experts about this right then. Someone might have said, are you sure you understand what question he is asking? It may be different than you think. Someone else may have said, we were asked the same thing and here is how we answered it. If I could have crowdsourced an answer, I could have solved this problem and drafted up a better response to our client in 1/20th of the time it took for me to do it alone.
I didn't know it then, but...
What I really needed was a network of compliance people I could turn to for feedback and direction.
I get it now, because this is exactly the kind of thing we do with Research Assistant (from insideARM).
Our members know they have someone in their corner, someone to talk to and back them up, not only when they're dealing with hazy compliance questions, but also in cases where, like it was for me, they don't even know what it is they're dealing with. That kind of feedback and direction can give them a fighting chance. It could have given me a fighting chance. And maybe spared me from spending whole days on a surprise question.
Hey, wait! There's more where this came from.
With Research Assistant (from insideARM), we talk about what's really happenening in industry compliance all the time. And occasionally, we also send out practical insights like this to a wider audience. Want to make sure you get the new stuff sent straight to your inbox?