Quality is one of the most important aspects of the experience for your customers. They seek quality in products, interactions, transactions, your website, and more. According to a survey of more than 200 senior marketing managers, 71 percent say that quality assurance in customer satisfaction was one of the most useful metrics for monitoring business success.
What Is Quality Assurance?
As you step away from the startup phase of your business and embrace rapid growth, it’s easy to feel like you’re losing control over the quality and consistency you usually offer your customers. That’s where quality assurance comes in.
Quality assurance describes the processes taken before and during customer experiences to ensure satisfaction. It’s about making sure each product and/or service you sell is only of the best quality and that your brand can be trusted to deliver the same excellence with every interaction.
This process should not be confused with quality control. Although the two concepts work hand in hand, the distinction is important to understand.
According to Arbour Group: “Quality Assurance activities are identified before work begins on the product and these activities are completed while the product is being developed. In contrast, Quality Control activities are performed after the product has been through the development process.”
In other words, quality assurance includes the steps you take to prevent problems, anticipate needs, and truly understand your customers. As you might imagine, these steps can make a huge impact on your customer service, for better or worse.
Improving Quality Assurance in Customer Service
According to an article from the customer service cloud solution Talk Desk, what you do for quality assurance sets your business up for either success or failure.
“Quality assurance (QA) should be the cornerstone of your call center management efforts,” the article reads. “This is because optimizing QA practices will help to enhance the quality of the service your team provides to their customers, increase their efficiency and reduce wasteful spending. Taken together, the benefits of optimizing your QA practices might just help your team get a leg up on your competition.”
For greater results in your quality assurance efforts, here are some things you can do:
• Monitor Agent Performance
Monitoring calls and face-to-face interactions is one of the only ways to know your agents are offering the best possible care to your customers. Monitor calls at random so you can catch your agents in their most candid moments. Hold regular evaluations as well, offering feedback so employees can improve. Apply monitoring practices to all channels of communication with your clients.
• Consistently Train Agents
The data you collect as you monitor your agents can be used for training purposes. If you’re consistent with your processes, you can help your service agents reach their full potential and significantly improve your brand reputation.
While you’re training your customer service agents, keep an eye on the processes you use to do so. You might recognize shortfalls in your training material or ineffective training processes. Your protocols will define the outcome, so it’s important to constantly monitor their effectiveness as well.
• Incentivize Excellent Service
Your employees probably aren’t as naturally motivated by your company’s success as you are, so it helps to make it worth their while. One of the best ways to encourage higher quality care in customer service is through a rewards system where the best customer service representatives receive prizes for their work.
Maintain Standards of Excellence in Customer Care
When you’ve implemented a clear quality assurance program, you must maintain that standard of care in every interaction. There’s usually room for improvement in every system, so identifying and promoting efficiencies are essential steps.
Make a plan for maintaining standards in your quality assurance program, and find a way to measure it. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs), and use those numbers to guide your efforts. Apply different KPIs for each channel of communication.
Get everyone on board with your efforts. Quality assurance itself won’t be the source of quality in your customer interactions; rather, it will be your team members.
“The source of quality is well considered design, carefully executed, with thoroughness, by skilled practitioners, given adequate time,” explains David Foster of Laneterralever. “Organizations that try to improve quality primarily by adding quality assurance find themselves frustrated as quality assurance teams attempt to seize control of project to push a quality agenda. This is like the tail trying to wag the dog. Ultimately, the rest of the agency has to adopt project practices that support quality using Quality Assurance for what it truly is, a candle in a dark place.”
Finally, evaluate quality assurance frequently, often enough that major problems don’t slip through the cracks. Constant monitoring and attention to detail will be your most important allies when improving quality assurance in your customer service team.