I had the opportunity to lead the quality assurance program for a chat project back in 2013. Reflecting on it, I always faced issues when trying to get associates involved and interested in improving. Whether it was including more power words to their writing or correcting those little (but very annoying!) punctuation errors, the attempts did not hold through. I remember going to calibration meetings feeling lost because no matter the effort, the results didn't improve!
I believe part of why that program was not entirely successful was because we failed in motivating our team! It’s fair to say that collaboration was not a priority! It felt too strict, and in most cases, this is the reality for a lot of QA programs.
Understanding QA in the 21st century.
A quality assurance system is meant to increase customer confidence and loyalty, as well as a company's credibility. It should help with improving work processes and efficiency, and enable a company to better compete with others.
Hence, the framework for quality assurance programs should not focus on having a department in charge of these tasks. It should focus on incorporating your team so they want to participate, share, and assertively take action on the valuable insight their peers and managers are conferring to them.
You might find yourself asking questions like, "how should I start?", or "what do I need?" Is there an ideal team size to start doing QA? How do I know I’m evaluating the right things? - Well, worry not! We're already a step ahead and have consulted the "almighty lords" of QA and found you the answers!
How to start?
If you’re looking to set a quality assurance program in motion, it might be because the project you’re working for wants to identify trends in your team’s work or you have been given parameters and policies that your team needs to abide by. Maybe you want to ensure long-lasting practices that guarantee a sustainable and transparent business, either way, whichever the scenario may be, the first step into diving home a quality quality assurance strategy should be:
- Define what you are setting as the desired service standards (Why are you doing it?): You’ll need to have a clear objective of the results you’re expecting and what you’ll be doing with them.
- Define the basis of your evaluation/audit process (What are you measuring): Now that you have the grounds for results, you’ll need to determine the key points of the processes that your team will go through on a daily basis. The processes that directly impact the outcome of the procedures.
- Define the time (How often?): Define if you want to audit everything or just sample. Do you do it once daily, or twice a week? Well, this will depend on how crucial the process is within the Customer Experience chain. If I want to ensure that your associates are adhering to and following the defined processing steps, you might want to implement this process 3 or 4 times and compare with the amount of orders to get accurate insight.
- Define outcomes (What is expected?, What to do if..?): Think about different coaching methods and documenting processes. What’s the best approach to improving results? Is it reinforcement, connecting peers with SMEs, etc.?
- Follow up (continuous improvement): Always circle back and make sure all areas of opportunity are being taken care of!
Is there an ideal team size to start doing QA?
It really depends on the scale of what you want to measure. While there is not a particular number, you can use the defined items above to help determine how long it would take to finally decide how many people are needed to do the job and what characteristics are required from the people in these jobs.
How do you know you are evaluating the right things?
First, you need to know your product or service. By having a full grasp of what the Customer Supply Chain entails, you can better understand whether or not the defined standards (from question 1) are what you should be evaluating. Look for experts or check resources to see what others have already done. You'll most certainly find something new that you can apply within your team.
Now that we’ve covered the most pivotal aspects within a Quality Assurance program, you and your team should be ready to glow up and exceed expectations, so get out there and ace those goals to their very core!
Remember, Quality Assurance should be about taking ownership, being proactive, embracing change, and above all, collaboration, collaboration, collaboration!