Quality Assurance

Who Should Run Customer Service Quality Assurance - Team Leads or a Dedicated QA team?

Consistent, high-quality customer service is vital. A survey from Oracle found that just one negative customer service experience is enough to put over a third of consumers off a brand, for good.

To maintain your retention rates and revenue, you need a quality assurance process for customer service.

Effective customer service quality assurance helps teams quickly identify and fix problems, and meet the company’s customer support goals and guidelines. Plus, it recognizes outstanding performance.

In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of having your team leads or managers do QA vs having a dedicated QA team, so you can decide what’s right for your organization. 

To learn more about the QA process, download our full guide to quality assurance for customer service teams.

Different Styles of Customer Service Quality Assurance

Different teams and organizations run their customer service quality assurance in different ways.

Many teams choose to assign the responsibility of quality assurance to team leads or managers, whereas others will assign a dedicated QA team.

These aren’t the only two options, though. Some companies choose self-reviews or agent-joint reviews where agents score their own performance and later discuss it with a manager.

Peer-to-peer reviews are another method sometimes used with new employees. Agents assess each other's work, pointing out what could be done better and improved.

If you’re looking for ways to streamline your QA, get in touch with Miuros. We’ll show you how you can automate the process of selecting tickets to analyze, focus on data that matters, and make big improvements fast.

With Miuros you can cross-analyze and calibrate at a high level, to ensure consistency and save team leads or QA teams precious time.

Team Leads/Managers Responsible for QA

For small to mid-sized teams, it’s common for team leads or managers to be responsible for quality assurance.

This could be the case in a growing company that hasn’t yet assigned a dedicated quality assurance team for customer service, or that doesn’t have the resources to do so.

How Does it Work?

Each team lead or manager carries out  QA conversation reviews on their own team, by taking random samples of tickets for each agent. They’ll check these tickets against the company’s quality assurance guidelines and best practices using a scorecard.

They review the performance of their team members and take responsibility for the quality scores of their team.

To help keep things balanced, reviews might be calibrated by other team leads to ensure that scoring is consistent across the board.

The Pros

One of the benefits of this style of QA is that managers know their team members well.

In cases where there is some debate regarding the fairness or accuracy of the score, and whether the tickets chosen at random represent the agent’s performance, team leads can use their own judgment to give the benefit of the doubt. Whether you consider this to be a positive or a negative depends on your company culture… which all ties into the debate on fairness

One-to-one meetings are personal. Team leads review the tickets and have first-hand experience of how their agents have been performing.

Finally, since team leads are more involved in actual customer service work, they are more familiar with processes and products. This gives them the upper hand on a QA agent in terms of being able to give accurate, actionable feedback to their agents.

This approach brings team leads and their agents closer together.

The Cons

Team leads can be biased toward their own teams. Though subjectivity can be useful in some cases, team leads may have a conflict of interest because they want their team to succeed and score well. Calibration can help tackle this, but may not remove all inconsistencies.

QA doesn’t end with grading tickets - someone needs to take action on the results and improvements. The disadvantage of team leads running QA is that they may be more focused on customer service and their team’s performance and overlook other issues relating to the product or operations. We don’t mean this to badly reflect on team leads; it’s more than likely that issues related to a product, for example, would fall down on their list of priorities. 

Another major downside can be the volume of work. Managers have a lot on their plate, and QA is just one of many weekly tasks. In organizations where team leads have to do QA, you may find that they fall behind with other work, or QA simply doesn’t get done. This means that agents might not have their work reviewed for a few weeks (in some cases), which is bad for them and could also have negative effects on the customer experience.

Dedicated QA Team

Larger organizations are likely to have a dedicated QA team for customer service.

If this is the case, team leads will concentrate on the day to day management of their team, while a separate QA agent takes care of quality assurance, possibly for a number of teams. The QA agent will provide feedback and reports for the team leader to use during their one-to-ones.

Each team has a team lead and a separate QA agent that takes care of quality assurance, providing feedback and reports on each agent for the team leader 

How Does it Work?

Each QA agent is responsible for a certain number of agents. They’ll spend around half of their time grading tickets and leaving comments within reviews.

They’ll also do calibration, take notes for team leads, communicate with other teams to improve processes, update documents, conduct analysis, and notify everyone of updates.

When they find a problem, they’ll take responsibility for making sure it gets resolved.

Pros

With a dedicated QA team, you might find there’s a tighter feedback loop. The more people you have conducting reviews, the more inconsistency there’s likely to be. However, with a smaller number of reviewers, you’ll see the same standards applied across the board.

Calibration is also easier when there are fewer people doing reviews. They can look at things together and decide how things should be changed, and document those changes.

Cons

Dedicating people to QA requires extra resources. Depending on your budget, this may not be realistic for your organization.

If team leads do not review agents’ tickets, they can’t use their subjective judgment. This can be a good thing, however, it can also make the process more impersonal and team members may perceive a lack of fairness.

Without excellent communication, QA teams cannot succeed. They need to clearly explain what agents need to improve in their reports to managers ahead of their 1-1s.

Which Method of Quality Assurance is Right for Your Customer Service Team?

When it comes to deciding which method to use for your quality assurance process, there are no right or wrong answers. There are advantages to both approaches.

Having team leads or managers doing QA could work best for smaller organizations, and teams that deal with complex requests. Team leads have the in-depth knowledge of the service and product in question.

Another factor to consider is how much quality assurance matters to your customer service team. If it’s a huge priority, a dedicated QA team will be worth the investment.

Many team leads understandably feel that QA is a job in itself. Having a dedicated QA team will ensure that reviews are never missed, and managers don’t compromise their other responsibilities.

To learn more about QA, download our full guide to Quality Assurance for Customer Service Teams.