8 steps to setting up a quality assurance process for your support team
When a new agent joins your team you naturally want to help them get up to speed as quickly as possible. But, no matter how good your intentions are, manually training agents can be time-consuming and painful for both the reviewer and agent.
Even when your agents are fully onboarded, you still need to train and help develop them. But, as your teams scales, you’ll feel the pressure to hit increasing support targets. It’s easy (natural even) for your team to start prioritizing speed over substance when replying to customers. They may start sacrificing your company tone of voice, niceties or little helpful details, for example. But, all of these things matter and neglecting them could result in a dip in your customer happiness rating.
Luckily, there’s a simple solution. By implementing an effective quality assurance (QA) process, you can empower your team to consistently craft empathetic responses that give your customers the high-quality support they deserve. It’s a win-win. Here’s how to create a seamless QA process that will benefit your team, customers, and sanity, even as your company scales.
Begin with the end in mind
Success starts with envisioning the end result you want to achieve with your quality assurance process. An effective way to get clear on this is to create a problem and goal statement. Here’s an example:
Problem: Our current review process is time-consuming and frustrating for both agents and reviewers. This is negatively impacting the quality of our customer responses and, in turn, our customer happiness rating.
Goal: We need to shorten the review process and make it more empathetic to both the agent’s and customer’s needs. We hope creating a QA process will help us send more empathetic customer responses and boost our customer happiness rating.
Every support team is different and the problems you’ll face are too, so take the time to carefully craft your own tailored problem and goal statement.
Assess where you stand now (and set your ideal target metrics)
You know how the saying goes: what gets measured gets improved. Now that you know what problem you’re solving and the goal you’re striving for, it’s time to define your target metrics. To do this effectively, you’ll need to create a benchmark for how your team is currently performing. Here are some tips for gathering the data you need:
Analyze your key support metrics, like your customer happiness rating and response time.
Gather qualitative and quantitative customer feedback. For example, automatically triggering a happiness rating after every customer interaction will help you uncover valuable insights.
Ask your team for their honest qualitative and quantitative feedback on your current review process. For example, why not send an anonymous survey that asks them to give a rating and answer open-ended questions?
Next, define the target metrics you’re aiming for with your new QA process. Get really precise and make your metrics SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.) For example: “In the next quarter we want to increase our customer happiness rating by 10% by creating a new QA process that centers around creating more empathetic customer responses.”
Choose the right software that will help you achieve your goals
Choosing the right software can set your team for success and make your QA process a lot more efficient from the beginning. So, once you’re clear on your goals, evaluate a few different tools and make sure whatever software you choose can help you hit them. In particular, you’ll want to look out for key features that will help you streamline your QA process. For example, are there elements of the process the tool can automate? We go into more detail on this below, so stay tuned.
Assemble your quality assurance dream team
Now’s the exciting part where you can start defining the finer details of your QA process. First, you’ll want to decide who should be responsible for reviewing your agents’ support tickets. We recommend giving your agents as much ownership and freedom as possible and reducing the possibility for micromanagement, which can be incredibly disempowering for your team. At the same time you’ll want to ensure you have the right reviewers in place that will help your team reach a consistently high standard with their customer responses. For example, rather than asking managers to lead the charge, why not create a peer-to-peer system where more experienced agents review tickets and offer guidance to newer agents? This can be less intimidating for new agents who are learning the ropes and can provide mentorship/professional development opportunities for more experienced members of your team.
The 5 Stages of Team Development
All teams develop according to some natural patterns and using that knowledge, you can offer some guidance to build the kind of team that communicates well and finds better ways to collaborate and achieve the goals you’ve established. Here’s what you need to know.
Create an automated feedback loop
Automating your review process (or elements of it) can save your team so much time. Not only will this make your team more efficient, it will also give them more time to focus on creating more empathetic support responses. Of course, the automation you have at your disposal is down to the software you choose. So, make sure the tool you choose gives you the automation capabilities you need and supports you in making your QA process as frictionless and painless as possible. For example, with Training Wheels in Teamwork Desk you can automatically send agent ticket responses to an experienced team member for them to review. Then, if improvements are needed, the reviewer can send the ticket back to the agent through a feedback loop with pointers on how they can improve. Once the agent implements the feedback, the reviewer can approve the ticket and it will instantly send to the customer. This automated feedback loop is a huge time-saver that empowers agents to work more independently, without feeling like they’re being micromanaged and monitored.
Lead with empathy
Remember, the reason you’re creating a QA process is to create a better experience for your team and customers. Your QA process is just as much about people as it is about efficiency. So, where possible, consider how you can make your process more empathetic. Here are a few ideas to consider: We recommend creating a set of empathy guidelines for reviewers that will empower them to train agents not just efficiently, but also with compassion. Your guidelines should encourage reviewers to empathize with your agents’ pain points, so they can act with care and consideration around them. This will make your agents feel understood, appreciated, and respected — which will motivate them to learn and go the extra mile.
Also, identify and remove any elements of micromanagement from your QA process, which will disempower your team and make the process more painful. For example, are you standing over an agent’s shoulder as they create a ticket? Consider how you can take a step back physically and metaphorically. An effective QA process requires trust.
Get buy-in from your team
Once you’re happy with your QA process, you can go ahead and document it. Then, share it with your team. Tread carefully here. It’s your team who will be testing your new QA process and using it regularly. So, it’s important to get their buy-in early on and give them a true sense of ownership over it. When sharing your new QA process, focus on the benefits/what’s in it for your team. For example, highlight how the new process will help enhance their career development and improve your team’s overall customer happiness rating.
Gather feedback and iterate
Before you roll out your process, let your team know that you welcome and encourage their feedback. Not only will this give them a sense of ownership, it will also provide you with first-hand insights into what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to be improved in your QA process. You should also analyze the target metrics you’ve set at regular time intervals. Gathering both quantitative and qualitative data will help you spot areas you can improve in your QA process, and you can iterate on your strategy accordingly.
A great quality assurance process grows with your team
Never lose sight of this: your quality assurance process is about people. Creating an effective QA process hinges on putting your team’s and customers’ needs first. But, of course, the needs of your team and customers will change over time as your company continues to scale. One of the best ways to keep your QA process running smoothly is to maintain an open dialogue with your team and your customers. This will help you proactively flag any problems that need to be addressed as they arise. You’ll be rewarded not only with a higher quality of support, but also with a more satisfied team and customers.
Ready to create a seamless QA process? Try Training Wheels in Teamwork Desk
Training Wheels in Teamwork Desk helps support teams just like yours create a seamless, efficient QA process. If you’re not using Teamwork Desk try a free 30-day trial to kickstart your new QA process today. If you’re an existing Teamwork Desk user you can learn more about getting started with Training Wheels here.