Thursday, December 10, 2009

Voice123 Quality Assurance

The explosion of social media has made the online world a much smaller and safer place to find work. There is growing responsibility each day in all websites, not just Voice123, to pay attention to the 'small things' that take place in the voice over community. I figured I would use this week to explain how Quality Assurance is done at Voice123.

I was hired as a QA Associate back in July 2007, a few days before SmartCast was released, and during my time here I have seen how Quality Assurance can also be considered 'customer service'. I will do my best to explain exactly what takes place to give you a better understanding as to how much Quality Assurance plays a role in Voice123:

There are two types of Quality Assurance:
  • Proactive: Using proven experience to stop things before they happen.
  • Reactive: Fixing issues when something new has happened and must be corrected. These are usually isolated instances, reported to me, directly.
I manage a team that does Quality Assurance for several areas:
1. Profile content (see tips on filling out a profile)
2. Voice over demos on the profile
3. Voice over auditions
4. Voice seekers and voice talent website problems
5. Voice over projects

How it works:
1. Profile content is screened for typical things like spam, or damaging content that could affect our ranking on search engines. Profiles are also screened to make sure that the person's profile belongs to them, only, and no one else. The reason for this comes from past experiences with profiles that lacked truth or integrity, which is something that is costly to all members of the Voice123 community. Sometimes, you will see emails from our staff that requests 'link exchange' as a great way to display a link on a profile. In general, no matter your profession, it is important to keep in mind when creating a profile or demo, that lying about your ability on a resume never has positive results, whether you work online or off. (A 'spin' is different. You are not lying about your ability, and you show your creative side; for example, checking off that you have ISDN, but you have to go to a studio to rent it because its not at home. If you can take care of it, why bother a buyer with the details of how you delivered?)

2. Voice over demos are screened to make sure that the audio quality is good, and has no problems that affect the professionalism of the talent or Voice123. (Examples would be, a demo for phone messages uploaded ten times under ten different categories not related to IVR, or a demo removed because it is not the voice of the person who owns the profile). When such things happen, a person is emailed to let them know of the decision that it had to be removed. This may seem somewhat 'harsh', and for that I apologize. Our problem is that we have close to 80,000 standard voice talent, and not all understand the importance of positive and professional web content.

3. Voice over auditions are screened for spam and audio quality. Spam is considered the 'junk mail' of the Internet; basically the 'I did not ask for this. Why are you sending it?' type of file. For audio quality, if a demo cannot be heard, or there is significant background noise, it is sent back to the voice talent, and the voice talent is emailed that there was a problem, and to send it again. You may also find emails from me or my staff offering advice or praise. Sometimes, voice talent do things that completely break the mold, and it makes me smile so I write to the talent. That is the absolute level of the process that the staff is involved in. On Monday, we had a total of 65 projects posted, with 104 direct invites, and 1018 auditions. It takes great concentration to pay attention to each one and get it to the client. As a rule, if an audition is not sent to the client, for any reason, the voice talent will be notified immediately to fix any issues.

4. Voice seeker and voice talent quality assurance is something I personally do more than any other form of quality assurance. It is both proactive and reactive. There have been isolated cases of payment disputes, undelivered work, website abuse, dropped communication between parties, and poor online behavior. This has to be attended to at all times. Most of these QA issues are reported to me personally at, but I can also be reached through the Customer Service page, if you ever feel like working with someone left a bitter pill in your stomach.

5. Voice over projects require quality assurance because, even though the voice seeker interface offers a wide variety of explanations as to how to help a voice seeker request voice talent, not all of them understand the process, or know how to fill things out to get the best results. As a rule, we do not adjust 'manual' data so you get a picture as to how that person filled out the project. We also offer automated data, so you can see how many jobs they posted in the past, their listening behavior, and if the project is a re-post. This data is helpful in analyzing the professional level of the person you are dealing with, so you can see if it is something you may want to pass on.

Voice over QA has been made a great deal easier because of social media. Almost all businesses using Voice123 have a social media profile on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Given that one-sixth of the world uses the Internet (true stat), all you have to do is talk to someone online, or search Google, and you will find out who you are working with. Do some people slip through the cracks? We try our best not to, but that is when I must do quality assurance in the 'reactive' state of mind.

A quick thanks to Voice123 voice talent, Barry Hayes, for inspiring me this past week. He contacted me about a problem on Voice123 that affected some who had already auditioned for a project. I appreciate him taking the time to be thoughtful enough to help others, and it showed me how simply 'talking about what you see' can do so much for the voice talent community. He helped more people than he is aware of, and when this happens, I become aware just how Quality Assurance plays a part in customer service, and the importance of social media to help grow a safer online industry.

Thank you for reading!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace

Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
Voice123 Premium Forums
Steven's Blog
Twitter: @stevenNYC123


aimee said...

Thanks so much for this post. I am new to Voice 123 and the initial process, I begin to realize, is for a very good purpose.

While there is great opportunity on the web, there are also many scams on both the part of providers and users. The more that you can do to keep Voice 123 professional and running smoothly for (80,000?!) the better - you are doing a great job!

Marco said...

This is a great post! I just wanted to leave a comment to show my appreciation once again to the voice123 team. Over the past year since I've joined, I've had 2 emails regarding demos, which were deemed unsuitable. As someone still learning the ropes, I've used it as part of the learning curve and took it as constructive criticism. The way I see it, I'm changing my demos to better showcase my talent to help the client find what they're looking for.

jeff maher said...

....and thanks also from another voice fairly new to this industry. A great opportunity.
I actually just got an e-mial notice that an audition I had sent out about 30 minutes ago was returned back to me by voice 123 because of low volume. That was awesome quality control!!
They did not want pass it on the client until it was sounding professional. I like that.
(I need to go take care of that)
Good Luck to all!!