What is quality assurance and why should you care about it? Quality assurance is not just about testing and gathering information – you need a broader vision so that you understand not only what you’re measuring, but how it relates to your end goals and how you can use it to drive improvement.
What is quality assurance and what goals should it strive for?
Quality assurance means coming up with a set of processes that can be implemented to ensure quality service is delivered on a consistent basis. ISO 9000 answers the question of what is quality assurance with: “A part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.”
Good QA should be able to do the following:
- Guide customer service staff in how to improve their performance
- Promote efficiency
- Show how to improve customer experience
How do you measure a good customer experience?
You might have metrics for it, such as, “Agent uses the customer’s name 3 times during the call.” But ticking off check boxes doesn’t really tell you how the customer felt or how satisfied they were with the interaction. The net promoter score is a much better indicator of a happy customer.
Let the customer lead your metrics and KPIs
Let the customer define what is good quality assurance. A good net promoter score is great, but finding out the reasons behind it is even better. What are the hallmarks of good customer service staff? You might consider using ‘Agent Satisfaction’ as one of your metrics, which shows the customer’s overall feeling about the interaction as a whole, not just how well the agent followed procedure.
Surveys are also a good idea to determine what customers really want from interactions.
When surveyed, 77% of customers said that valuing their time is the best way a company can provide a good customer experience.
Customers also want personalized service that goes beyond just solving the problems they have at the moment. Truly great customer service anticipates customer needs and desires and sees that they are fulfilled.
Ask your customers questions based on your business and industry. Most customers are happy to give you feedback as long as they know that you’ll listen to them and implement changes to address their needs. You’ll show your customers that you really care about them, and get the information you need to get ahead of the competition.
Focus on the things that really matter
Too much information can sometimes be worse than too little. With all the information available nowadays it’s easy to drown in meaningless numbers. Decide what’s really important to your company mission and your customers and concentrate on that. An evaluation form that’s too long runs the risk of confusing your staff and increasing your call time, and nobody wants that.
Get buy-in from customer service staff
Nobody knows your customers better than the people who deal with them every day – your customer service department. They’ll have insights that higher-ups would never think of, since they are the ones who deal with customers on the ground. They’ll also have valuable information to impart on the importance of various metrics and KPIs.
Often the only way to give customers what they want in the timeframe they want it is to have well-trained and empowered customer service staff. Customers don’t have the time or patience to wait around for a supervisor to approve a request, or another department to weigh in. They expect the customer service agent to be able to handle it all.
Remember to get input from all channels
Customers interact with companies in so many ways: phone calls, email, live chat, text messages, social media… the list goes on and on. Each channel has its own rules and set of expectations. How quickly your customers expect an answer to their query depends on the channel – a phone call should be answered immediately, a social media message within a couple of hours, and perhaps with an email you have a 24-hour window in which to respond.
It all depends on your specific business and customers. When you’re determining what is quality assurance your answer will probably be different for each channel.
The 3 parts of a quality assurance evaluation
Once you’ve decided on the qualities you need to measure you can divide the evaluation into 3 basic areas:
- What is the required process?
- How well did the agent follow it?
- What was the customer experience?
Good quality assurance is a constant process of observation, evaluation, and adaptation. And remember, one of the most important roles of QA is to give your customer service agents feedback on the caliber of their work and how they can improve.
When your agents deliver topnotch work on a regular basis you can count on a good CX. The more you fine-tune your approach, get feedback from your customers, and train your staff to provide it, the better the CX will be.
Single out the good work
Of course, it’s important to praise and reward good work by your staff – after all, happy staff members make happy customers, and being rewarded and appreciated for their efforts will help make your staff happy.
It’s also much easier to train for good performance when you focus on promoting the good, instead of criticizing the bad. After all, no one signs up for seminars on “Learn to play golf by studying the worst players of all time,” do they? Top-performing staff members might enjoy training others in how to deliver excellent service. It shows how much you value their expertise while helping other staff members do their best.
Follow QA best practices
Once you’ve gathered your data, use it to formulate your best practices. It might help to have a dedicated quality assurance professional to oversee the whole process. If you keep in mind the steps outlined above, your quality assurance program can help take you to heights of increased customer experience and profitability.