Customer Service Quality Assurance: The Process for Support Success

Maryna Paryvai
Maryna Paryvai
March 25, 2024
Customer Service Quality Assurance: The Process for Support Success

How can you know if your customer service meets the mark? 

As you scale your customer support team, it can be challenging to ensure that you’re consistently delivering top-notch service, especially as CSAT survey response rates continue to plummet. 

The answer lies in customer service quality assurance (QA).

In this post, we’re sharing why customer service quality assurance is so important, along with the steps to implement a rock-solid process. 

What Is Customer Service Quality Assurance?

Customer service quality assurance is a set of processes that call centers and support teams use to assess and improve their service quality. This includes reviewing customer interactions against predefined criteria, analyzing call compliance data, and conducting regular post-call surveys.

Customer service QA plays a central role in achieving consistent support quality and building strong, high-performing teams. It helps highlight gaps in agent performance and customer operations and allows support managers to address those issues before they escalate into bigger problems.

Support leaders often opt for open reviews where agent names are shown along with each ticket. 

However, in recent years, blind reviews with hidden agent names have gained popularity. They eliminate bias and provide more objective insights based solely on the content of a specific interaction rather than on reviewers’ feelings about individual agents. 

If you have a smaller team where everyone has built some kind of personal relationships with each other, blind reviews are the way to go.

Why Is Customer Service Quality Assurance So Important?

More than 50% of consumers are ready to switch to a competitor after having a single poor experience with your company. This makes quality customer service a must for long-term business success.

You can’t rely solely on the CSAT numbers to understand how well your team is performing and how happy your customers are anymore.  That’s because CSAT survey response rates typically are below 20% across industries. 

Plus even when every customer service agent is putting in their best effort, a lack of alignment in internal standards can result in inconsistent customer experiences and subpar agent performance. The hard work of top-performing agents might go unnoticed, while underperforming team members keep going without any consequences.

That’s why customer service quality assurance plays a critical role in support operations, helping you to:

  • Get everyone in the organization on the same page regarding service quality standards.
  • Identify improvement opportunities in the customer service workflow.
  • Support growth and development of underperforming agents.
  • And recognize the contributions of high-performing team members.

Additionally, QA gamification elements like an agent leaderboard can elevate team engagement levels and encourage healthy competition for the top spot, promoting service quality internally and boosting loyalty and customer satisfaction.

The Customer Service Team Roles In the QA Process

Here are the key customer service team roles and responsibilities crucial for building an effective QA program and achieving consistently high customer service performance:

  • Support agents are on the front line, resolving customer problems and questions.
  • QA reviewers assess customer interactions and share feedback with agents and team leads. In larger teams, there may be multiple QA specialists who report to the support manager or a dedicated QA manager. In smaller teams, managers, team leads or even agents themselves can take on the QA function by performing manager-, peer-, and self-reviews.
  • Team leaders handle escalations, team coaching, and training agents based on the QA review results and feedback.
  • Finally, support managers own support operations, team performance, and agent engagement strategies. In smaller teams, support managers might also take on the role of a team leader, with agents reporting directly to the manager.

With many parties involved in the process, it’s important to have a clear team structure and organization so that everyone knows who to talk to about different problems.

Support reps should know who will give them feedback and who they can turn to for help and additional training.

Customer service agents and team leads typically report to support managers while QA can be a separate function, working with the customer service through cross-functional collaboration.

This approach helps avoid conflicts of interest and ensures honest and fair QA feedback.

The Quality Assurance Process

The quality assurance process can differ depending on your support channels, team size, industry, and unique business needs. But the core of the process is generally the same across the board:

  • Ensuring the team is on the same page regarding quality standards.
  • Defining evaluation criteria.
  • Consistently monitoring and evaluating customer service interactions to ensure compliance with regulations, pinpoint process gaps, and identify areas for improvement.

Types of QA reviews

Usually, QA evaluations are done by dedicated QA specialists who are trained to spot performance issues and provide feedback tactfully.

With that said, some teams prefer peer reviews, where team members assess each other’s work, fostering transparency and a culture of agent accountability. This is particularly effective for smaller teams of under ten people, where everyone can review a few conversations from each team member without it taking overwhelmingly long every week.

For smaller teams without dedicated QA positions, manager or team lead reviews are quite common, too. 

However, as the team expands, it becomes more practical to build a dedicated QA function. Otherwise, reviews may start consuming too much of the manager’s time, distracting their focus from more strategic work.

Lastly, self-reviews have been gaining popularity as they empower agents to align their performance with quality standards independently.

Steps to implement the quality assurance process

Now, let’s walk through the specific steps required to successfully launch the quality assurance process within your team.

  1. Define quality standards.

First, you must define what quality looks like for your organization. Do you prioritize user experience or operational efficiency? Are you focused on meeting customer expectations at all costs, as Zappos did with their legendary 10-hour customer call? Or do you prioritize upgrades and renewals to meet short-term revenue goals?

Whatever your standards, ensure they are clear to your team and everyone is on the same page regarding the expected service level.

2. Create a QA scorecard & template.

The next crucial step is pinpointing the key attributes of a great service interaction for your team. These are the things you’ll include in your QA template to evaluate customer interactions and assess agent performance.

Make sure you include the following criteria at a minimum:

  • response and resolution times
  • first contact resolution
  • tone of voice and grammar
  • internal process alignment and compliance with regulations
  • the efficiency of solutions provided

3. Pick your tech stack.

Now, it’s time to consider your tech stack for QA reviews. This is one of the most important steps in quality assurance – your choice can either boost the team’s efficiency or significantly hinder progress if you pick a platform that doesn’t fit your team size or development stage.

There are lots of options out there, but here are the key considerations for selecting a QA tool:

  • Integrations with your help desk and other software products you use to help customers.
  • Internal knowledge base (like Tettra) to record best practices, questions to your eng/product team, new features, release notes, FAQs, and more
  • Customizable evaluation criteria that you can adjust for your specific needs.
  • AI automation for streamlining reviews and saving time with natural language processing models.
  • Reports and analytics to monitor your team’s key performance indicators effectively,
  • Coaching features for ongoing training and monitoring agent progress over time.
  • Last but not least is pricing and associated costs, including implementation fees and AI automation add-ons if they aren’t included in your subscription.

For smaller teams, starting with Google Sheets might suffice, while larger or more established teams normally go with specialized platforms. 

Commonly used QA tools like Klaus and Evaluagent are perfect choices for established teams for comprehensive service quality management.

4. Launch the QA review process.

Now, it’s time to document the process and kick things off. Typically, the process will involve:

  1. Using AI to review 100% of interactions and flag cases for human review.
  2. Setting up filters for human review based on specific criteria like CSAT scores, ticket tags, keywords, or response times.
  3. Combining reviews from both AI and humans to provide agents with actionable insights and feedback, allowing agents to agree or appeal scores.
  4. Reviewing agent feedback and adjusting support workflows as needed. For example, your AI model may not be set up correctly resulting in scoring mistakes or your knowledge base has outdated information leading to incorrect support responses.
  5. Conducting coaching and training sessions to help agents improve. You can focus on specific skills each agent can work on to perform better and keep an eye on their progress with ongoing QA checks.

Encouraging two-way communication and involving agents in the assessment process is crucial for building a strong QA workflow.

Agents should be able to challenge scores they don’t agree with and point out where the process isn’t working well, causing low scores and a poor customer experience.

Collaboration and open customer feedback culture are key to continuous improvement in your quality assurance process.

Boost Customer Service Quality with Tettra Knowledge Management

Excellent customer service helps businesses stand out and win over customers. While the quality assurance process sets the foundation for delivering great service, it’s not enough just to identify issues during the review process.

You need to take action on them, too.

Building a high-performing team requires thorough coaching and training sessions. Equally important is providing your agents with the right tools and reliable resources. A robust and well-maintained knowledge base that agents can use when handling customer queries is a key part of delivering quality customer support experiences.

With Tettra, you can help your customer service team quickly find the information they need to resolve customer requests promptly and provide outstanding service.

Start a free trial today to elevate your internal knowledge base and see the difference it can make.

Maryna is a results-driven CX executive on a mission to champion efficient and human-centric customer support. With a deep-rooted passion for well-structured documentation, she firmly believes that exceptional customer experiences lie at the heart of every successful business.