If you're reading this, it's probably because you are growing quickly and sure enough, you've found the need to build a sturdy foundation upon which to scale your customer service support team.
If I hit the nail on the head, then you should note that it’s important to start standardizing processes and setting the tone for the future now. Doing so will allow your team to be on the same page and provide a uniform customer service.
That said, having a quality assurance program in place serves as a way to reduce noncompliance, avoid customer experience mistakes and other errors that could occur internally. By having processes, you provide a structured work environment that makes it easier for staff to know their responsibilities and help them focus on performing their job the best way they possibly can.
Here are eight steps to help you get started on building a QA program for your customer service support team from scratch.
1. Define standards and goals for your customer service
Visualize and think about what you want your team to achieve. Knowing which direction you want to go is the base of defining the next steps for building a QA program for your support team.
Create the quality assurance plan with deference to the customer. Start by imagining what you want for your customers.
- What kinds of outcomes do you want them to have?
- How should they feel when they finish with the call?
- Is there anything you want them to do during or after the call?
Now, consider how your team will supply these things for your customers. As you build your quality assurance program, you need to be mindful of what kinds of behaviors your agents will need to have to elicit these types of outcomes.
Set specific ongoing goals that will define who you are as a customer service team in the long-term. Also be specific about the standards you set.
What are the key performance indicators you’ll measure, and what results are acceptable?
When you’ve hashed out the details, write up a specific set of standards that apply to each facet of the work. Make a separate, concise list of your overarching goals.
2. Set policies and procedures for each department
Quality is a team effort and everyone in your company must be involved. Determine a set of procedures adapted to each department and level in order for all staff to participate and take action on this new change.
The policies needed to spell out how a variety of situations are to be handled. They also need to set expectations about attendance, overtime, and conduct on the job. Procedures have to cover everything from how calls are to be conducted to how and when feedback is given.
If you don’t already have one, you need to develop a Standard Operating Procedures manual. This is where you can put all your long-term policies and procedures once you have them ironed out. Most businesses have their SOP set up on all their computers, and software is available to make that easier.
Without clearly-defined policies and procedures, it’s impossible to create a quality assurance program that’s both effective and reliable over time. So, take the time you need to lay out your road map to success.
3. Share the news
Once everything is planned out and has been carefully outlined, communicate the new procedures and changes that will take place with your staff. Before making a big announcement, discuss this with the head and managers of each department.
Talking to your managers first, prepares them for the changes ahead and allows them to participate in prepping and handling front-line employees when questions arise.
With your managers informed and ready to deal with questions, communicate you QA plan to your team members. If you're only making a few changes, you can just have the managers touch base with each employee to explain the changes in question.
If this is your first formal QA program, though, you’ll need to spend more time making sure everyone gets good exposure to what you’ve created. Consider having a special work session to go over a new plan or discus major changes in the way you expect the job to be done from now on. Part of a successful quality assurance program is getting everyone in the office on board.
4. Implement the procedures
Now the fun really begins. Collaborating with the different head of departments, work together to implement the new policies and procedures. This can be done through trainings, one-on-ones, and continuous feedback with employees.
Initially, it is normal for doubts to come up. It is your job to address any questions and concerns for both managers and front-line employees and ensure adherence to the new procedures through regular tracking and reporting.
Build your quality assurance program the right way by having a clearcut switch from the old system and the new one. Announce to your employees that, “today at the beginning of first shift, the new QA program goes into effect.”
The managers may need to remind people during the first few days if agents are forgetting to follow the new plan. Remember that this is a learning experience for everyone. Even if they’ve had comprehensive training, it’s too easy to fall back into old habits during those first few calls or shifts. Be patient but firm in insisting that they adhere to the new rules.
5. Get feedback
After a few weeks or a couple of months after implementation, organize discussion and feedback sessions among managers meet and their teams to hear their experience with the new QA program. By creating a 360° feedback, you'll empower the entire organization and reduce resistance.
Take a problem-solving approach with your sessions during this critical phase as you fine-tune and build the quality assurance plan you’ve created. Certainly, give your managers a safe space to bring up questions and problems. But, don’t allow your meetings to turn into pointless complaint sessions.
You might hear questions or comments you need to research more about and/or mull over before making a decision. That’s okay. This is a feedback session aimed at exploring issues, not solving them once and for all.
6. Measure results
Right around the same time you are getting feedback, start to analyze the progress and changes the procedures have brought on and measure the adjustments that have happened within your customer service support team.
You can do so by analyzing KPI's before and after the implementation and reviewing your voice of the customer. This can easily be done using a CRM system or quality assurance software such as PlayVox.
You also need to measure other outcomes that were already in good shape before the change. By doing this, you can ensure that you’ve actually improved the overall effectiveness of your team while at the same time maintaining the positive outcomes you had before.
7. Communicate results
There is nothing more motivating to staff than knowing that their actions have led to a significant improvement for their organization. An increase in happy customers, sales, or a reduction in waiting time all have to do directly with actions that front line employees took.
Let staff know that they have had a direct impact to change and transform the company. After all it's because of them that you were too able to successfully establish new procedures. By motivating and empowering staff, they'll be able to better embrace your vision and continue to power forward.
Communicate the results in words, of course. You can drive the message home even more effectively by rewarding exceptional adherence to the new plan. Positive outcomes for your customers and your company are critical. To get those positives, though, you need your team members to follow your plan and provide more feedback if needed. So, reward compliance to the rules regardless of the results.
In addition to measuring KPIs, do some testing to ensure your managers and agents understand the changes clearly. Then, clear up any misunderstandings one-on-one and with all your managers.
8. Adjust as needed
Remember that when the procedures and policies were defined for your QA program, it was all in theory. Now that you have gathered both feedback and measurable results, it's time to analyze gaps and areas of improvement to tweak the procedures as necessary. This could be done by getting more feedback to spot areas of weaknesses, providing improved training and deeper VOC analysis.
Hold a special meeting to discuss what might be done about problem areas. If there are things you can change, do so. If there are other things you aren’t willing to change, let the managers know that, too. Otherwise, you can confuse them about the details of the program.
Add the changes to the digital or paper document where you’ve given your policies and procedures, whether that’s a formal SOP manual or a simple listing of the new rules.
If this sounds like a lot of work, that's because it is. Assign a quality team spread out across different departments that work with team members and can report back to you.
Just because your QA program works now, doesn't mean that it will a year from today. Get continuous feedback, measure and communicate results, and adjust as needed on a regular basis. This can be done once or twice a year. The idea is to never fall behind and always stay ahead of the competition as well as keep up with the changing and dynamic customer trends.
Be aware that even after all these steps, you’ll likely have to add changes and adjustments as time goes by. Although you may never change your mind about what you want your team to achieve, advances in technology and changes in the industry are bound to change the way everyone needs to go about their daily tasks to accomplish those goals.
Avoid thinking of your work to create a quality assurance program as a one-and-done event. Instead, remember that’s it’s a process that plays out over time. Stick with the program unless you decide to completely replace your QA system.
Promote a positive attitude among your managers and employees by showing them your positive side from the start. Present your quest for quality assurance as an exciting adventure that everyone can participate in and enjoy.
Take advantage of all the resources available to you as you build and implement your QA program. Stay alert, practical, and cooperative as much as possible. Having the right mindset is a crucial part of making any QA program that works.
Remember, there are many solutions to help you with your quality monitoring for your support team. PlayVox offers a solution to track quality as well as coach, train and reward your staff all from the same platform, saving you not only time and money, but accelerating processes to increase your sales faster. For more information, sign up for a demo today!