You might think your company doesn't need a quality assurance program. After all, there's just you, your co-founders, and the small staff you hired to take care of the overflow. Your business doesn't operate solely on passion, hard work, and coffee anymore, but you're still able to oversee all parts of your process. You can easily spot any errors before they embarrass your company.
And that's great! But what happens when you start to scale? On a startup level, you can ‘fly by the seat of your pants.’ As you get bigger, you need an effective, measurable, reliable, standardized system of quality assurance.
Quality assurance makes scaling easier
Suppose your business takes off and you're suddenly handling 50% or 100% or 500% more customers than you're accustomed to?
How much more can you expect your staff to do before the quality of their work falls off and morale tanks?
If you hire new people, how do you make sure they maintain the value and reputation of your products and services?
How quickly can you train them up to the level of your current team?
To make matters more difficult, you probably won't have time to figure out how to train the new staff while scaling. You'll be too busy dealing with the influx of new customers and the demands they bring.
If you had a quality assurance platform in place, you would already know exactly what standards should apply to your new hires. You would be able to show them, step by step, what is expected of them. You would have processes in place to grade their performance, point out exactly where they went wrong, and coach them towards improvement.
Scaling can bring a host of unexpected problems. It magnifies everything. Small mistakes can become major disasters in no time. For example, let's say you do everything 99% right. If you have 100 customers, only one of them is unhappy; at the same rate with 10,000, you suddenly have 100 angry customers.
If your customer care agent accidentally gives out the wrong information on a small scale, you can fix it with a phone call.
You can't do that on a large scale. Large-scale issues are more likely to become public as well. On a small scale, you're more likely to know your customers personally – they might forgive you if something goes wrong. Even if they don't, there's a limit to the damage one person can do to your reputation. Not so for 100 customers. They are more difficult to placate and more likely to take their grievances to social media.
Without the systematic customer feedback that a quality assurance program provides, you won't know exactly what is wrong. You can't track complaints and issues over time and deal with recurring problems. Without process controls, it will be difficult to find out where the problem originated. You won't know where to start, or what to do to fix it. You'll be losing customers as you flounder around looking for the problem.
Worst of all, it's entirely possible your shortcomings will be shared with the public the entire time.
QA helps you make plans
As the old adage goes, “That which is measured, improves.” That's all very well to say, but how do you know what to measure? Which KPIs will actually predict the improvements you want? Intuition is not necessarily a reliable guide. If you take an unbiased look at actual data, you might find that initiatives and procedures you assumed would add value to your company actually do no such thing.
For instance: which action creates more value for your company – upselling customers or decreasing churn? How do you know what to prioritize if you don't have reliable information?
At its root, quality assurance is about monitoring and controlling the metrics that are tied to success. You can use the Plan-Do-Check-Act model of continuous improvement. This is an ongoing process that consists of four parts:
- Plan – Decide which processes to monitor
- Do – Gather data
- Check – Analyze the reliability and relevance of that data
- Act – Take action based on the information received
Having a quality assurance program allows you to create standards that truly mean something. It allows you to plan out the steps towards your vision. QA also keeps the quality of your products and services on an upward trend. You can’t trust in luck to keep your processes on the right track. If the effort is not consistently expended on improvement, entropy creeps in and you fall behind.
Quality assurance improves morale
Employee engagement is a big driver of customer satisfaction. Creating a culture of quality in the workplace needs input from each team member. Everyone will have something valuable to contribute. They may very well have unique insights to offer, but it is the sense of quality ownership that can give your staff the feeling of a job well-done.
A quality assurance program sets up clear roles and responsibilities for each staff member so that everyone knows what is expected of them.
If a team member needs to improve their performance, QA metrics will show what areas are weak and what needs to be done to correct the issues. Supervisors will be able to see who needs help and will have the resources to give it. Accusations of favoritism will be a thing of the past since you will have the data to back up your actions.
If your company doesn't have a quality assurance program already in place, now is the time to start one. A good QA program doesn't happen overnight. It takes a consistent process of observation and implementation to create a program that works for your company. A fantastic product or top-of-the-line customer service doesn't help you if you have no idea how to create it for all of your customers. QA is a method that allows you to control your processes to attain a consistent, predictable result. The rewards are worth it.
Still wondering if a Quality Assurance program is right for you? Let us know what doubts you might be having in the comment box down below!