Customer experience is more than a buzzword, it’s an imperative.
As consumers increasingly self-educate long before becoming customers, their decision to buy (and keep buying) often comes down to the strength of your support team.
Given one negative customer service experience, more than 60 percent of consumers will abandon an intended purchase and flock to a competitor.
Whether your business ships physical products or provides essential software, driving a consistently positive customer experience is vital to thriving in a crowded marketplace.
The brands most poised to compete use quality assurance to help them do it.
What is Quality Assurance?
Also known as QA, quality assurance is the systematic process of making sure business results align with business goals.
In software engineering, quality assurance typically involves testing at every stage of development until a product is complete.
For support teams, quality assurance is a long-term play. Those who see the greatest gains account for every step of the customer experience and iterate as needed.
In practice, this includes:
- Establishing internal and customer-facing standards and strategies
- Onboarding and coaching agents on protocol and best practices
- Reviewing and scoring agent-customer conversations based on internal standards
- Leveraging both “good” and “bad” conversations as learning opportunities
Self-evaluation fuels successful QA. Instead of relying solely on customer opinion, support teams who QA assess their own efforts to align stated goals with actual outcomes.
To achieve this, support QA programs can range from manually managed spreadsheets to integrated, purpose-built tools.
But no matter the setup, the end-goal of every QA program is the same: to drive customer satisfaction during every conversation.
And, as it turns out, the practice proves beneficial in more ways than one.
Here are seven benefits of support QA.
1. Promotes a shared definition of what “good” support means
Unlike traditional KPIs like CSAT or NPS, support QA isn’t limited to your customers’ perception of the support they receive.
Running a successful support QA program means tracking your team’s performance against its own set of internal quality standards—benchmarks that remove ambiguity about expectations.
These internal benchmarks form the basis of your organization’s definition of “good” support.
What constitutes “good” will vary by company, but most QA rubrics consider two primary factors:
Technical skills: Anything important to the company or related to compliance.
- Tagging tickets or conversations
- Following industry privacy protocols
- Adhering to internal company processes
Soft skills: The less objective but still crucial components of agent interactions.
- Communicating a positive tone
- Building rapport
- Personalizing communication
With a clear and shared sense of what good support means, teams who QA can reliably do the right thing no matter the circumstances.
2. Empowers agents to excel during difficult conversations
Good support requires more than having the right answer. When things inevitably go wrong, agents who manage to rise to the occasion can become superheroes in their own right.
But when escalation paths and protocols aren’t clear—or worse, don’t exist—support agents are often forced to improvise.
Unsurprisingly, this can result in an uneven support experience that may leave some customers less satisfied than others.
One agent might misunderstand the customer’s request and guess at an answer that isn’t relevant. Another might understand the ask and provide the right answer—but now the customer may not know who (or what) to believe.
The one thing they do know is your team isn’t on the same page.
Implementing QA for your support team means everyone knows what good support looks and feels like during times of stress, ambiguity, or confusion. Most importantly, it means your team feels fully prepared to handle challenging situations in ways that build trust rather than erode it.
3. Provides visibility into individual and team performance
Great customer experiences are often the result of being proactive, not reactive. Yet for many support teams, conversation reviews only happen following negative interactions.
The situation usually unfolds like this:
- Customer makes a request
- Support agent responds
- Customer is unhappy with agent’s response
- Customer demands to speak to a manager
While QA can never completely eliminate escalations, waiting on complaints to evaluate agent-customer conversations might be too late: Only 1 in 26 customers bother to complain. The rest churn without saying a peep.
Establishing a QA program solves for this with invaluable visibility. First, regular conversation reviews enable support leaders to pinpoint areas that need improvement. Second, it arms them with the data needed to secure the attention and support of their executive team.
4. Lends precision to onboarding, coaching, and training sessions
You can’t fix what you don’t know and neither can your agents. Still, a significant number of companies either don’t bother to record support calls or stop short of reviewing them.
In a study of more than 300 organizations, HDI found that 57 percent record their support calls. Of those, 20 percent don’t actually do anything with the recordings. Without the benefit of conversation review feedback, their agents can only guess at what the customer experience should be.
That’s why the most successful QA programs use conversation reviews to identify knowledge gaps and other threats to customer satisfaction.
For example, if QA data suggests new agents struggle to explain your manufacturing process, you might devote more time to the topic during onboarding. You might even host an education session to collectively craft effective ways to respond to manufacturing questions.
If there’s an issue with an agent’s communication style, you might schedule one-on-one time to review a few calls together, devise some strategies for better ways to respond, and follow that up with call monitoring to track their progress.
When deployed with intent, conversation reviews empower support leaders with the information needed to steer agents towards better support outcomes. Given relevant and timely feedback, it also helps agents become better at their jobs.
5. Aligns agents with company-wide goals
Thriving in support is challenging. From navigating complex client set-ups to managing a queue of bugs, it’s not uncommon for reps to feel disconnected from how their efforts fit into the larger picture. They’re too busy putting out fires.
Making matters worse, there’s usually little talk of how support helps the business to succeed, especially when compared to teams like sales and marketing.
The most effective QA programs shine a light on their support team’s success by drawing a clear line between their achievements and company-wide goals.
Knowing exactly how their individual and team contributions impact the company can imbue agents with more job satisfaction than fielding calls and solving tickets in a vacuum.
When done right, QA helps agents to feel more like they’re executing on a strategy instead of riding a merry-go-round of requests.
6. Creates additional promotional paths for top agents
Promotional opportunities within support typically consist of supervising or managing the team, moving into a Customer Success role, or becoming a team lead in a specialization area.
As customer experience becomes a growing priority for organizations across industries, quality assurance is one such area.
Commonly called QA Analysts, these support wizards are great at connecting the dots between key agent behaviors and positive business outcomes—and they’ve usually got the track record to prove it.
Many organizations use QA scores as a metric through which to promote agents, a factor bound to incentivize those who already strive for excellence during every customer interaction.
As analysts, their role revolves around measuring compliance against internally-set standards for agent behavior. To achieve this, their responsibilities include call monitoring, assessing agent performance, and tracking support trends. They may also be charged with identifying and implementing tools that help your team QA more efficiently.
At a high-level, QA analysts help support leaders prove the power of customer experience.
7. Improves and scales customer satisfaction
Teams who QA are conscious of the data they generate.
- In-house rubrics define exactly what makes an interaction good (or not good)
- Conversation reviews and scoring systems ensure agents understand and execute what’s expected of them
- The learning opportunities that arise help agents, analysts, and support leaders to optimize for peak performance
This combination of action and analysis builds consistently high-quality service. In a study of more than 150K+ customer interactions, MaestroQA found that high QA scores correlate with increased positive customer satisfaction scores (CSAT).
Organizations with “excellent” QA scores received a positive CSAT review 99 percent of the time, while those with QA scores below 95 percent received a positive CSAT 92 percent of the time.
The implications are immense. If support QA data can make customer satisfaction more predictable, your team can confidently deliver on expectations to forge better customer relationships and reduce churn.
Best of all, support and CX leaders who can demonstrate the financial gains associated with happy customers vs. the losses associated with unhappy ones enjoy the freedom to hire more agents and adopt better tools.