Quality Assurance

Peer-to-Peer Reviews for Customer Support Teams

There are many different approaches to customer service quality assurance. 

Often, managers are responsible for rating their team’s performance and providing feedback to help them improve. Larger organizations might assign this process to a dedicated QA professional instead.

However, peer-to-peer reviews are another method of QA that gives team members the responsibility of analyzing their colleagues' performance. In this article, we’ll explain the process of peer-to-peer customer service reviews, talk about best practices and explain the pros and cons of this approach.

What are Peer-to-Peer Reviews?

When a customer service team adopts the peer-to-peer approach, employees will conduct conversation reviews and assess their fellow team members’ performance using a quality assurance scorecard.

Even teams who use peer-to-peer as the primary method of reviews usually combine it with another form of quality assurance. For example, team leads or QA agents may review their employees’ reviews to calibrate the results and get an overview of how the team is performing.

A customer service analytics tool can simplify the quality assurance process and improve performance across the board. Find all about how Miuros can help you with customer service QA

How to Conduct Peer-to-Peer Reviews

If you want to implement peer-to-peer reviews in your quality assurance process, here’s what you need to know.

Highlight the Positives

First, if you are launching peer-to-peer as a new approach to QA, present the process in a positive light and encourage enthusiasm from the team.

Highlight the fact that it's a great way to recognize and celebrate agent achievements, and it will help agents learn from each other.

Make Expectations Clear

Before agents starting doing reviews, they need to be clear about the core company values that should be reflected in customer support. The metrics by which employee performance will be measured need to align with company goals and values.

It will make it easier for employees to conduct evaluations when they are familiar with the scorecard, and the company’s customer service guidelines.

Not sure what to include on the scorecard? Check out our guide to customer service QA scorecards.

Encourage Constructive Feedback

As it’s usually the team lead or manager’s role, agents may need some guidance on how to give constructive feedback.

It can be daunting for team members to judge the performance of their colleagues, so make sure they are comfortable with giving feedback that’s constructive and fair. Encourage them to think about what kind of feedback they would like to receive, whether it was positive or negative.

Start Slowly

You can implement the peer-to-peer process gradually, starting with a few reviews being carried out by more senior agents and then rolling it out to the whole team.

Agents may worry about falling behind with their day-to-day responsibilities, so allocate timeslots during the week for conducting reviews.

Supervise the process

A robust calibration process is essential for peer-to-peer QA to work well. This helps maintain consistency across the board and avoid bias. You need a team lead or QA agent to be responsible for checking scores, feedback, and comments that agents give to each other.

Consider assigning these calibration reviews to more senior agents, or take care of them yourself. The former can be a good way to empower them and help them gain the experience required for internal career progression. Plus, since they work ‘on the floor’ they might have a better idea of what great customer support looks like, and are in an ideal position to analyze their teammates’ work.

The Pros of Peer-to-Peer Customer Service Reviews

One of the main benefits of peer-to-peer reviews is how they can bring your team closer together.

Employees will begin to take an active role in promoting quality customer service, rather than waiting for advice from their managers. They will get faster feedback and recognition for good performance and also become more motivated.

Employees will interact more, even those who work remotely. They’ll have the opportunity to learn from each others’ successes and mistakes and improve their own performance.

They can also encourage professional development, as team members take on new responsibilities. Grading the performance of other agents will help teams gain a deeper understanding of what is required for great customer support.

From a practical perspective, team members can share information and best practices more easily, and they won’t have to wait until their 1-1s with managers. By looking at their colleagues’ conversations they’ll broaden their knowledge about the kinds of requests that can arise. The speed at which knowledge is shared increases.

The Cons of Doing Peer-to-Peer Reviews

Like every style of quality assurance, peer-to-peer reviewing has some disadvantages.

For a start, the more reviewers you have, the less consistency there will be in grading and scoring. To combat inconsistency or bias in reviews, you will need to have a calibration process in place to keep reviews consistent and objective.

Keeping scorecards simple can help you avoid inconsistency and misinterpretation. However, when you simplify scorecards it can become more difficult to grade accurately, especially if your organization handles a lot of complex requests.

Doing peer-to-peer reviews can be intimidating at first. Knowing your performance will be judged by a teammate can be worrying. It’s challenging for employees to judge their colleagues' performance, especially when they have to give negative scores. That’s why it's important to emphasize constructive, fair feedback that will help others improve.

Finally, large teams may find that peer-to-peer isn’t the ideal method of quality assurance because it can significantly less efficient than a team lead-run or QA team-run process.

When to Use Peer-to-Peer Reviews

Many teams will find that peer-to-peer reviews work well for them as the primary method of QA, with team leads or QA agents then providing calibrations or final reviews.

It can be leveraged to onboard new agents it gives them a chance to learn on the job from their teammates. More experienced agents can take on a new responsibility and help new recruits integrate into the team.

The key to a successful peer-to-peer review system is to be clear about your goals. Make sure to keep the scorecard fairly simple and aligned with what you want to achieve.

Thorough calibration is also important to maintain consistency and avoid bias.

To learn more about the different types of quality assurance, and the pros and cons of each approach, download our complete guide to quality assurance for customer service teams.