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Should You Have Dedicated Quality Assurance Specialists?
November 18, 2019
You’re in a meeting when someone suggests a great new initiative. Heads bob up and down in unison, silently voicing their agreement. It’s clear that this would be a great idea to implement. Then the dreaded question comes: “Who’s going to own this?”
Silence 😶 Furtive glances 👀 Furious typing on blank Google Docs 💻
No one wants more work on their plate, and because of that, this initiative is going to straight into the pile of “Great Ideas” that sits at the back of the office.
Many companies grow rapidly, building out their CX teams at almost logarithmic scale, before suddenly realizing that QA has to be done, and that someone has to do it.
Someone has to own your QA program, but who should do it, and why?
Should you have Team Leads run QA?
Team leaders have a lot on their plate. It’s their job to run training, onboarding, hiring, 1:1 reviews…. And so much more. While it might not be ideal to tack QA on to this immense list of things they already have to do, there sometimes is a time and place where this makes sense.
1. Your team is still in its early stages
An early-stage CX team is probably a great reflection of the company – it’s in its bootstrapping days, figuring out the right processes and the right people to have while keeping costs reasonably low.
Under a certain number of agents, a team leader could probably handle the QA workflow while comfortably juggling their other tasks. And it might make sense for them to be the ones to build out the process – after all, they know your team inside-and-out – they can set the stage and get the team used to processes while your team gets ready to hire a full-time QA professional.
2. Letting the team leaders walk the talk
A military maxim that left quite the mark on me (I spent two years in the Singapore Army) was “leaders should always lead from the front” (try to read that without imagining a beet-red, tattooed Drill Instructor screaming it at you as you do push-ups 🤬). While this can lead to some eyebrow-raising tactics (like having an officer lead the charge in high-risk breaching operations), it’s still an important mantra that I keep close. The benefit of having team leads run your QA program is similar to the benefits of having your platoon commander run head-first through a small gap in barbed wire while taking heavy fire: When team leads lead by example (taking tickets and dealing with clients – arguably a different kind of fire), it gives them more referent power and legitimacy when they QA agents and give feedback. Team leads are on the front lines with the rest of the agents on your team – if they tell an agent that they could have handled a customer interaction better, the agent will receive the feedback with the knowledge that the team lead understands the difficulties of customer support.
Or Should You let QA Specialists do their thing?
That previous point is easily rendered moot when you have QA professionals that rise through the ranks from CX agent to fully dedicated QA specialist. These are people who have done their time in a CX role, shown a passion for helping others (and your organization) improve through grading, and are dedicating their careers to it.
Choosing dedicated QA specialists will yield these benefits:
1. Your team leads can concentrate on their job
QA can quickly become the last thing on your team lead’s to-do list, after managing an ever-growing team of CX agents, interviewing potential candidates, carrying out onboarding for new agents, managing holiday coverage while half the team requests time off… 🤯 You end up with team leads that spend 20% of their time a week on QA, or less during the busy season, when QA might get deprioritized entirely as your team leads scramble to man the phones.
Unfortunately, the 80/20 rule doesn’t apply here – if team leads spend 20% of their time QAing, it simply won’t match 80% of what a dedicated QA specialist can provide.
Introducing dedicated QA analysts will untangle your team leads from a web of responsibility that is not necessarily their forte or primary interest, and allow them to focus on leading the team well.
2. Full-time focus In contrast, dedicated QA specialists make it their career’s mission to bring out the best in a CX team. What we’ve seen in our interactions with QA professionals (and we’ve spoken to a great many!) is that they are truly passionate about what they’re doing. Dedicated QA specialists can give their undivided attention to grade agents at a regular cadence, interpret the data produced, and influence process change in the organization – surely not something that should be a side task for a team lead.
Over time, these professionals also develop the muscle to innovate and build out the whole QA program, and become that much more valuable to your organization.
3. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Who will guard the guards themselves? The age-old question now has its own page on TVtropes.org, having been a plot point of many a late-night TV episode.
Who will QA those that QA? is our modern (and much more fabulous) interpretation. Having team leads take calls and QA others seems like a good idea – but who will QA the team leads?
This trope is used in popular culture to suggest something insidious – where proper checks and balances do not exist. For CX teams, the result is far simpler, but potentially scarier – the results from your QA program are no longer representative of your whole CX program if you don’t include the interactions that team leads handle (eek! 👻).
Having dedicated QA specialists means more grading is done, so there’s a much better sense of weak areas to nip in the bud. Trainings start becoming more relevant, and (hopefully🤞) address these weaknesses. This leads to leveling-up the team overall, and better customer experiences. We wrote a great post about how training
What if I can’t get dedicated QA right now?
We’ve established that you should have dedicated QA team members if you can afford it, and have the team size to warrant it.
But what if you can’t?
We turn once again to our Customer Success team for advice on how to make team lead-led QA work.
1. Be realistic in how many tickets you can grade.
Speak to your team and superiors and set up expectations of the amount/frequency of QA that they can expect. Test to see if this internal SLA makes sense, and adjust it to a level that works for you and your team.
If you set off with an unrealistic goal of, say, 10 tickets per agent, per week, you might find yourself struggling to finish even half of those. You end up with an incomplete data set that isn’t representative of your whole team, and you might feel demoralized to continue.
Start small. Even if it’s 2 tickets per agent per week, accomplishing that would give you a representative sample of your team, and you’ll feel REALLY GOOD crossing it off your list 😎
2. Schedule time for QA. Block off time on your calendar to grade tickets, and be sure to leave enough time to hit the frequency of grading and quantity that will be representative of your team. Even if it’s just 1-2 hours a week, doing this will still yield good data.
3. Make QA something that agents look forward to.
Invest time in your 1-1 coaching sessions to talk about specific tickets and events, and frame it as an investment in agent learning and growth. This makes QA more important to everyone in the organization, and turns it into a win/win!