Have you ever had a bad call with a company’s customer service rep, and upon hanging up, vowed you’d avoid their product at all costs going forward? My guess is the answer is a resounding yes.
Poor customer service occurs more than most companies and their customers would like. At the same time, in today’s world of immediate gratification, consumers have grown more accustomed to low wait times and immediate resolutions to their problems, in part thanks to large companies like Amazon.
The problem for those trying to run companies and satisfy customers, is that a single bad experience can send loyal customers heading toward the competition. Studies have shown that 42% of respondents have left a business due to poor customer service. (New Voice Media). In addition, 54% of U.S. consumers say customer experience at most companies needs Improvement. (PWC). These stats are not insignificant.
Implementing a successful quality assurance program is a critical step you can take to avoid losing customers and even grow your business in the long run.
Here are six important steps to consider when building a program.
1. Set goals and define metrics
The goal is happy customers. Consider what success looks like, and just as importantly, how it will be measured. Potential metrics could include customer-given quality ratings, response time on customer inquiries, and time to resolution. More than likely it will take a combination of metrics to fully understand the customer experience, the amount of effort customers must exert to remedy their problems, and how it’s affecting the overall business.
2. Analyze your current system
Most companies have developed processes for when issues arise with customers. So, before overhauling your entire system, it’s worth looking at what’s working and what might be added or improved. Start with the source – those involved in the day-to-day customer management – and ask what they think of the program. Where are they struggling? How would they improve the overall system? What metrics are being tracked? This will help indicate potential problems and is a great way to get more of your employees involved in the process.
3. Implement the right tools
Let’s talk about something that will make or break a customer service program. While it’s sometimes easy to blame the customer service team, not having the right tools to satisfy customer needs can also be the problem. Providing your employees with the tools they need to get the job done right is critical. Just as a construction company must provide its employees with building equipment and hard hats, customer service reps need tools that allow them to work through and track customer engagements. Important tools could include CRM, Contact Center Platform, and Omni Channel or Work Force Management solutions.
4. Get your team involved
As with many other business objectives, it takes a team to be successful. Ensure your team is aligned with your vision and knows where they fit in the broader structure, as well as what they are directly responsible for. Depending on the size of your organization, bringing in a dedicated quality assurance manager to monitor the situation can help keep your team on track.
5. Don’t underestimate the human element
The most successful companies keep people at the center of their customer service objectives. Though technology has infiltrated all facets of our lives, not even the best human AI innovations can replace real human interaction. This is especially true in customer-agent engagements. It’s critical to understand the importance of pleasant interactions including remaining empathetic to a customer’s issues and building a rapport as early as possible in the interaction. Critical to keeping customers at the center of interactions includes providing them access to support when they want it (24x7x365); how they want it (voice, chat, self-help – in application or Omni channel); and, where they want it (in the office, via the website or mobile phone). Regardless of where the interaction takes place, the issue being addressed or the level of frustration, customers want to be heard and understood. Training agents to understand their important role in these interactions is critical.
6. Role with the punches
Quality assurance and customer management isn’t a set it and forget it function. New issues will arise that will force you to rethink your strategy or showcase holes in your current system. Don’t be afraid to change things up. Some trial and error is often required to course correct. Needs might change as your company grows or evolves, or new tools may come on the market that could improve your system. Develop a consistent review cycle to ensure your program doesn’t become stagnant.
Though building a quality assurance program might seem like a huge undertaking, it is worth the time and effort. Having a successful quality assurance strategy in place directly impacts the bottom line. And, it can be measured in different ways. For example, after implementing a quality assurance strategy, a company can see if they were able to reduce customer churn and if so, by how much? Reducing churn by 10% for example, can have a big impact on a company’s annual revenue.
Better customer engagement and retention, happier employees, and valuable insights into your target audience’s wants and needs are all benefits that can be realized through a quality assurance program.