If you’re reading this, it’s probably because your company is growing quickly. And sure enough, you’ve found the need to build a sturdy foundation as you scale your customer service support team.
This strong foundation will allow your team to be on the same page and provide uniform customer service. But to achieve it, it’s important to start standardizing processes and setting the tone for the future.
Building a quality assurance program helps you reduce noncompliance and avoid customer experience mistakes and other errors that could occur internally. By having processes, you provide a structured work environment that makes it easier for staff to know their responsibilities and help them focus on performing their job the best way possible.
Is it difficult to build a quality assurance program? No, not if you approach it strategically.
Here are eight steps to help you get started on building a quality assurance program for your customer service support team from scratch.
1. Define Standards and Goals for Your Customer Service
Visualize what you want your team to achieve. Knowing which direction you want to go helps you define the next steps for building a QA program for your support team.
Build a quality assurance program with the customer at the heart. Start by imagining what you want for your customers.
- What kind of outcomes do you want them to have?
- How should they feel when they finish with the call?
- Is there anything you want them to do during or after the call?
Now, consider how your team will supply these things for your customers. As you build your quality assurance program, you need to be mindful of what behaviors your agents will need to have to elicit these types of outcomes.
Set specific ongoing goals that will define who you are as a customer service team in the long term and be clear about the standards you set. What are the KPIs you’ll measure, and what results are acceptable?
When you’ve hashed out the details, write up a specific set of standards that apply to each facet of the work. Make a separate, concise list of your overarching goals.
2. Set Policies and Procedures for Each Department
Quality is a team effort, and everyone in your company must be involved. Determine a set of procedures adapted to each department and level in order for all staff to participate and take action on this new change.
The policies needed to spell out how a variety of situations should be handled. They also need to set expectations about attendance, overtime, and conduct on the job. Procedures have to cover everything from how calls are to be conducted to how and when feedback is given.
If you don’t already have one, you need to develop a Standard Operating Procedures manual. This is where you can put all your long-term policies and procedures once you have them ironed out. Most businesses have their SOP set up on all their computers, and software is available to make that easier.
Without clearly defined policies and procedures, it’s impossible to create a quality assurance testing process that’s both effective and reliable over time. So, take the time you need to lay out your roadmap to success.
3. Share the News
Once everything is planned and carefully outlined, communicate the new procedures and changes that will occur with your staff. Before making a big announcement, discuss this with the leaders of each department.
Talking to your managers first prepares them for the changes ahead and allows them to prepare front-line employees and handle questions that arise.
With your managers informed and ready to deal with questions, communicate your QA plan to your team members. If you’re only making a few changes, you can just have the managers touch base with each employee to explain the changes in question.
If this is your first formal QA program, though, you’ll need to spend more time making sure everyone gets good exposure to what you’ve created. Consider having a special work session to go over the new plan or discuss major changes to the way you expect the job to be done from now on. Part of a successful QA program is getting everyone in the office on board.
4. Implement the Procedures
Now the fun really begins. Collaborating with the different heads of departments, work together to implement the new policies and procedures. You can do this through training, one-on-ones, and continuous feedback with employees.
Initially, it’s normal for doubts to come up. Your job is to address any questions and concerns for both managers and front-line employees and ensure adherence to the new procedures through regular tracking and reporting.
Build your quality assurance program the right way by having a clear-cut switch between the old system and the new one. Give your team reminders in the days and weeks leading up to the switch. Then, on the day of the change, get everyone on board with a clear announcement that the new program starts with the first shift.
The managers might need to remind people during the first few days if agents forget to follow the new plan. Remember, this is a learning experience for everyone. Even if they’ve had comprehensive training, it’s too easy to fall into old habits during those first few calls or shifts. Be patient but firm in insisting they adhere to the new rules.
5. Get Feedback
A few weeks or months after implementation, organize discussion and feedback sessions among managers. Then ask them to meet with their teams to hear their experience with the new QA program. By creating 360-degree feedback, you’ll empower the entire organization and reduce resistance.
Take a problem-solving approach with your sessions during this critical phase as you fine-tune and build the QA plan you’ve created. Give your managers a safe space to bring up questions and problems, but don’t allow your meetings to turn into pointless complaint sessions.
You might hear questions or comments you need to research more about or mull over before making a decision. That’s okay. This is a feedback session aimed at exploring issues, not solving them once and for all.
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6. Measure Results
Refer to the initial goals and expectations you set for the program when you first started to create your QA plan and see if you’ve met those objectives.You also need to measure other outcomes that were already in good shape before the change. By doing this, you can ensure that you’ve actually improved the overall effectiveness of your team without harming the positive outcomes you had before.
7. Communicate Results
There’s nothing more motivating to staff than knowing their actions have led to a significant improvement for their organization. An increase in happy customers or sales or a reduction in waiting time can be directly tied to actions that front-line employees took.
Let staff know about direct impact th
ey had on their company. After all, it’s because of them that you were able to successfully establish new procedures. By motivating and empowering staff, they’ll be able to better embrace your vision and continue to power forward.
Beyond verbal affirmations, you can drive the message home even more effectively by rewarding exceptional adherence to the new plan. Positive outcomes for your customers and your company are critical. To get those positives, though, you need your team members to follow your plan and provide more feedback if needed. So, reward compliance to the rules regardless of the results.
In addition to measuring KPIs, do some testing to ensure your managers and agents understand the changes clearly. Then, clear up any misunderstandings one on one and with all your managers.
8. Adjust as Needed
Remember that when the procedures and policies were defined for your QA program, it was all in theory. Now that you have gathered both feedback and measurable results, it’s time to analyze gaps and areas of improvement to tweak the procedures as necessary. This could be done by getting more feedback to spot weaknesses, providing improved training and conducting deeper VoC analysis.
Hold a special meeting to discuss what might be done about problem areas. If there are things you can change, do so. If there are other things you aren’t willing to change, let the managers know that, too. Otherwise, you can confuse them about the details of the program.
Add the changes to the digital or paper document where you’ve given your policies and procedures, whether that’s a formal SOP manual or a simple listing of the new rules. Assign a quality team spread out across different departments that work with team members and can report concerns back to you.
Keep Your QA Efforts Fresh
Just because your quality assurance program works now doesn’t mean that it will work a year from today. Get continuous feedback, measure and communicate results, and adjust as needed regularly. This can be done once or twice a year. The idea is to keep up with the changing and dynamic customer trends.
Although you may never change your mind about what you want your team to achieve, advances in technology and changes in the industry are bound to change the way everyone needs to go about their daily tasks to accomplish those goals. Stay flexible in the ways you achieve your goals and, no matter what might change, lead your team in staying focused on them at all times.