How to Establish Effective Quality Assurance Practices and Partnerships

quality assurance best practices | customer service audit

Quality assurance (QA) efforts serve as a check and balance for service providers. Not only do QA programs help ensure that personnel are fulfilling their job responsibilities, but following quality assurance best practices can also uncover opportunities for staff improvement.

Quality assurance efforts are as integral to the success of a program as are the agents on the program, the management team, and the training efforts put in place. The staff administering these functions (QA Analysts, Team Leaders/Supervisors, Account Managers, and Trainers) work closely together when properly applied to a program.

As you design or evaluate your protocols, here are some suggestions to consider when it comes to quality assurance best practices:

Establish the Playbook

Quality assurance efforts vary by company – there isn’t a rulebook of what is right or wrong. There are, however, best practices. Do remember that If you plan on outsourcing any component of your customer service strategy to an established call center, make sure you understand their approach before signing the contract.

Encourage Agent Buy-In

Agents must understand that QA feedback represents a portion of the company’s investment in them as an employee. When QA programs are put into place, staff has the opportunity to develop and learn new skills, a result that benefits both the company and the agent.

When implementing your QA program, make sure to emphasize successful and productive customer interactions, instead of focusing solely on shortcomings; establish a culture where agents encourage feedback, not resist it. If your QA program is too harsh, it can backfire, prompting job performance to suffer as a result of agents feeling admonished. New employee orientation is a great time to introduce and fully explain the role and benefits of your QA staff and programs, giving employees a clear understanding of how your QA program works.

Audit All Contact Channels

Merely listening to call recordings is not enough in a world where customers receive support via email, chat, text, and social channels, in addition to telephones. Omni-channel service providers like Telecom, Inc. employ the technology needed to provide excellent service and grade customer interactions across all contact channels. While QA efforts will require customization for a specific channel, (e.g., you wouldn’t grade spelling on a phone call as you would for email, text, or social channels) the vast majority of what is graded will be consistent.

Provide Timely Feedback

QA results should be shared with agents as soon as possible, particularly when observations uncover opportunities for coaching/training efforts to impact production. Make sure you have the proper staff size to promptly present the results of your QA audits. Also, make sure you have leaders who are effective communicators on your team, which will result in a better understanding of what needs to be done to improve.

Sample Size Matters

Listening to a few recordings, or reading a few customer interactions, on a monthly or even weekly basis simply isn’t enough. There should be a material sample size of interactions drawn that fairly represents staff efforts. If you outsource, make sure you understand the standard sample size your QA partner will pull. If a contact center doesn’t natively draw the same percentage of interactions you require, or that you do internally, discuss this early in negotiations and develop an equitable plan that provides the insight you need.

Many companies partner with a contact center while maintaining an internal team of representatives. When this is the case, it is great when a company can aggregate the results stemming from both teams for a universal view of the quality of the service being provided. Maintaining consistency in the number of interactions graded, as well as the grading parameters, will allow your company to trust the enterprise-wide results from the combination of the two teams.

Evolve Quality Assurance Efforts

Just like with most elements of a business, things change. Make sure your QA efforts are consistently updated to reflect changes in your business. You must revisit your QA report card at least every quarter to ensure your efforts are focused on the current state of your business and support needs.

Who Benefits From Quality Assurance Best Practices?

Everyone benefits when QA efforts are properly applied to programs – customers, clients, agents, management, and enterprises. The function of QA is to validate the efforts of staff and uncover opportunities for improvement. Effective administration of QA processes results in a positive ROI relative to expenses associated with QA in the form of increased production, higher CSAT scores, happier customers, and higher agent retention rates. When you apply the proper resources and budget to your QA efforts, whether administered internally or through a BPO, everyone wins.

Telecom’s QA Approach

At Telecom, our quality assurance best practices include:

1) Real-time call/contact observations. Team Leaders and Supervisors hear and see how agents interact with customers as they provide the service, and these observations are recorded on QA report cards. The criteria measured are established during the implementation phase of the program between Telecom and our partners.

2) Post call/contact reviews. QA Analysts review call recordings, email exchanges, and chat interactions. The results are recorded on the same QA report cards used for real-time audits.

3) Consolidated report card results. These combine data collected during real-time observations and post-call/contact audits are generated and shared with our partners.

4) Metric reviews. Managers review metrics found on production reports, intraday, to identify indicators that may be reflective of a QA concern, which prompts further research by the assigned team.

5) Calibration calls. These calls are regularly scheduled between Telecom’s team and our client’s designated personnel. Call recordings are randomly pulled and reviewed together. Teams grade calls using the established QA report card. Results are compared and inconsistencies in grading are discussed, and parameters are established to calibrate grading moving forward. These sessions are conducted weekly upon program launch and continue for as long as is requested.

6) Training and re-training sessions. These are administered focused on the opportunities uncovered to improve service for customers, and QA scores in general, resulting from all efforts noted above.

7) Regular business reviews. These include trending reports that cover production results and QA scores. QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews) represent great opportunities for executive stakeholders to meet, review results, and set goals moving forward.

Telecom, Inc. has been providing high-quality results, in large part due to our QA efforts, since 1993. To learn more about our proven QA approach and how we can effectively serve as a valued partner, please contact us or schedule an appointment.

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