Customer experience is one of the most important business concerns today. According to research, by the year 2020, it is expected to be the key brand differentiator – more important than price or product quality. The majority of customers value a good experience: 86% say that they are willing to pay more for good CX.
Why you need quality assurance
You need a quality assurance program to ensure a consistent, good-quality customer experience. Sure, you might get by on luck, talent, and hard work. For a while. But as your business expands, you'll need to hire new people who most likely won't have the same dedication as you have for the company.
Even with the best will in the world, your customer service staff won't be able to deliver excellent service without proper direction.
A good quality assurance program increases employee engagement and satisfaction.
They have clear goals to strive for. Measures of performance are transparent and objective.
A QA program provides a powerful competitive advantage, it can elevate agent performance as it gathers data you can use to measure your progress and set business objectives. You can also use it to provide personalized training and coaching to your staff and this will ultimately translate into good customer experience.
How to build a quality assurance program
Don't assume you know what entails a good-quality customer experience, go out there and find out.
Ask your customers what they expect from you.
A couple of popular customer satisfaction scales are the Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort Score, but these only measure how happy the customer is with your company without going into detail as to why.
The research done by Harvard Business Review on customer effort shows that delighting your customers isn't as good a strategy as you might think. Aside from the expense, wildly exceeding customer expectations doesn't really build loyalty. Decreasing customer effort does.
Only you can say for sure what that means in the context of your business, but keep the principle in mind as you choose your key performance indicators (KPI). For instance, prioritizing first-call resolution seems like a good place to start.
The best programs have buy-in from everyone
Get your entire team engaged. They might have good insights and ideas. More importantly, they will be more likely to accept the program whole-heartedly if they helped create it.
Designing your quality assurance scorecard
A quality assurance scorecard is a checklist of questions used to determine the quality of a customer service interaction. Keep it short – 10 to 20 items is a good number. The questions are weighted differently depending on the priority given to each section. Once the checklist is completed the score is usually given as a percentage out of 100%.
To start creating your quality assurance scorecard, make two lists – one for your business needs and one for customer's expectations. This should give you a good idea of what the perfect customer interaction will look like from both a business and customer standpoint.
For instance, customer expectations for a call might look something like this:
- Listen when I talk about my issue
- Empathize with my pain
- Solve my problem
- Demonstrate that you care
- Respect that I've chosen to give you my business
From a business perspective, the call may have these objectives:
- Build rapport with the customer
- Resolve their issue as quickly as possible
- Follow policies and procedures
- Obey laws and regulatory guidelines
- Keep good records of the transaction
From these lists, we can construct a series of questions to measure how well these needs are fulfilled.
What a quality assurance scorecard looks like
The scorecard is divided into sections. At the top would be basic information, such as the agent’s name, the date, and so on. For ease of grading, the items on the checklist usually follow the normal sequence of the interaction. For instance, the first question will usually have to do with the agent's greeting to the customer.
The questions would cover areas such as confirmation of account information, tone and attitude, problem-solving, time-keeping, follow-up, and so on. At the bottom, there is a space for suggestions and comments.
For scoring, you can use a sliding scale (such as 1–10), or a simpler rubric like ‘Meets expectations’, ‘Exceeds expectations’, or ‘Falls below expectations’. Whichever method you use, it would be a good idea to clearly define your requirements during training so that your staff knows what they should do.
It can be easy to concentrate too much on clear-cut issues that are easy to measure. For instance, how well the agent stuck to a script. However, too much adherence to a script risks sounding robotic and insincere.
Time-keeping is another thorny subject. Is it better for an agent to power through the queue as quickly as possible so customers aren't kept waiting, or spend as much time as necessary to make sure a customer's problem is completely resolved?
There are good arguments to be made for both sides. Technology can help satisfy both criteria. Perhaps implement a skills-based, rather than time-based, queue so that customer issues can be routed to the agent best-equipped to handle them.
A quality assurance scorecard might contain these items:
- Politely greeted the customer
- Behaved courteously and professionally during the call
- Used positive language
- Communication was clear and confident
- Asked customer's permission to put on hold or transfer the call
- Kept customer informed of actions throughout the call
- Showed active listening skills
- Allowed the customer to discuss problems and issues
- Solved customer issue in a timely manner
- Resolved customer in one interaction
- Offered additional assistance
- Maintained control of the call
- Recorded details of the call and updated CRM
In general, the more sample interactions that are graded the better. It's a good idea to audit your scorecard on a regular basis too.
Is it doing its job of keeping your team on track and maintaining your business goals? Try out different questions to see which suit your needs. Your quality assurance program is there to help you and staff.
Are you in the process of creating a quality assurance process for your customer service? What challenges are you facing? Let us know in the comment box down below!