The term QA specialist is most commonly associated with engineering teams. But it’s not enough for just your products to meet your quality standards. It’s equally, if not more important, that your customer service does too.
This is why we’re seeing the emergence of a (relatively) new role:
Support QA specialist
However, a quick web search reveals there’s very little written about this important new role.
So I wanted to draw from my own experience in support quality assurance at Pipedrive to share my insights on:
- What a customer service quality assurance specialist does,
- What the day-to-day activities look like in the role,
- The most rewarding and challenging aspects of the job, and
- Tips to become an amazing support QA specialist.
So if you’re looking to learn more about the life of a support QA specialist, this article is for you.
Let’s get into it!
What does a support QA specialist do?
The primary goal of a support QA specialist is to maintain a high and consistent level of support quality across the team.
You can better understand this mission by taking a look at the main responsibilities of a support QA specialist:
- Maintain and develop internal support quality standards
- Monitor customer service performance on an agent and team level
- Review a subset of conversations across support channels (calls, emails, chat, etc.)
- Accompany evaluations with meaningful and constructive feedback to help agents improve their performance
- Analyze all customer service metrics (e.g. CSAT, FRT, IQS), and how the support team’s performance affects those KPIs
- Create reports that reflect support performance and strategies to achieve customer service goals
- Participate in calibration sessions to maintain consistency in internal evaluations
- Map the need for training and onboarding programs and initiate these projects
Keep in mind, the job title may not always be ‘Support QA Specialist’. For example, my title at Pipedrive was ‘Training and Quality Manager’. And you’ll also find the above set of responsibilities being assigned to a ‘Conversation Review Specialist’, or a ‘Customer Service Quality Specialist’.
But irrespective of the exact title, the core responsibilities remain the same. Most customer service QA jobs revolve around doing internal conversation reviews and giving feedback to improve the performance of your support agents.
📌 Looking to hire a Support QA specialist for your business? Check out this free template which contains a job brief, responsibilities, and requirements for the role.
Why do you need a support QA specialist?
Most companies that prioritize customer service quality will eventually have to decide whether to hire dedicated specialists for the QA job or assign additional tasks to the current team.
The responsibilities and activities that a thorough QA strategy creates are often too time-consuming for managers and agents to handle in addition to their daily duties.
And that’s one of the main reasons why teams hire full-time support QA specialists.
Hiring a dedicated support QA specialist has several advantages like:
- More time and resources are dedicated to boosting support quality without burdening the team or managers.
- Consistency in internal conversation review evaluations and a reduced risk of having multiple people assess tickets differently.
- A higher probability in spotting trends and patterns across multiple support interactions.
- An unbiased perspective to the quality discussions makes it easier to provide (negative) feedback to agents without damaging manager-agent relationships.
Having a consistent and ongoing QA program in place allows for a complete overview of how your support department is doing based on your internal criteria, which helps you easily pinpoint agents who are struggling, as well as highlighting the top performers.
📌 For smaller teams doing self-evaluations or peer reviews might work well enough. However, for larger organizations hiring a Customer Service QA Specialist might be a more effective way to do systematic conversation reviews.
How do you become a QA specialist?
Most often, support QA specialists have spent time working as support agents themselves.
Through this work, you gain a thorough understanding of the challenges associated with such a role. This puts you in a good position to empathize with agents and solve problems as you lead a team of agents yourself.
For example, I worked in customer support for a year and a half before being promoted to the ‘Training and Quality Specialist’ role. And after nine months in that role, I was again promoted to ‘Training and Quality Manager’ where I was responsible for managing two ‘T&Q Specialists’.
The most common skills and requirements to become a support QA specialist include:
- Experience in the customer service space
- A proven track record of analytical skills
- Hands-on experience in quality assurance
- Great people skills and ability to communicate (negative) feedback
- Good organizational skills and knowledge in goal-setting practices
- Examples of data visualization abilities and understanding of support metrics
- Perception of basic business metrics and how support impacts them
- Problem-solving capabilities to create meaningful strategies to improve support quality
What does a typical day of a QA specialist look like?
Like most jobs, it’s hard to define a typical day.
That’s because it depends a lot on the industry and company you work for. And even then, there’s a lot of variability in what you do on a day-to-day basis.
Nevertheless, to shed some light on the topic, let’s look at the main things that made up my schedule as the Training and Quality specialist at Pipedrive:
- Attend relevant product meetings to understand what training was required
- Develop plans for the training and lead the training sessions for new agents as well ongoing product training
- Review a certain amount of conversations each day and give feedback
- Create individual training plans based on discussions with support managers/leads
- Prepare monthly reports that show how well support was performing on an individual and team level
Pipedrive is a product-led business, so there were a lot of features being released or updated in any given week. Plus, our support teams were growing quickly!
This resulted in many new hires that needed training as well as a constantly evolving product that agents needed to be trained on.
From the QA perspective, however, things were a lot more consistent.
Every team manager was responsible for reviewing a certain amount of conversations for their own teams using a unified scorecard. Plus the T&Q team would need to review at least one conversation per agent each week.
We had over ten conversation graders at Pipedrive. So to ensure consistency across the team, we would hold monthly calibration sessions for every grader. These were split into two smaller sessions each month.
At the end of each month, reports would be released to show the QA performance of each team. A detailed team analysis was also built and shared with each team manager.
We would also update our metric leaderboards at the end of each month to include a QA top performers chart, with the winning teams getting a prize.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being a support QA specialist?
I loved the ability to spot issues within our processes and having the data to back it up.
This led to process updates and making impactful changes that helped improve the lives of our support agents as well as making our overall support department more efficient.
On the training side of things, I loved being able to teach our teams about new features.
However, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.
Performing regular conversation reviews can become a bit repetitive and tiresome.
Knowing where exactly in the data to look for improvements can sometimes be quite a challenge.
Tips to become a successful support QA specialist
If you’re currently a support agent, the first thing you should do is to go speak to whoever does conversations reviews and runs the QA program at your company.
Take the time to understand why the QA program exists as well as the processes being followed to ensure its success.
You should also consider asking if you could join in on a calibration session to see how things are being done up-close.
Once you get the role, set up some recurring tasks that build the foundation of your QA program. I recommend creating a schedule that includes time for:
Make sure these foundations are set and you’ll have a consistent QA program running.
Once you have the basics set up you can spend more time digging into the analysis side of things.
For example, if CSAT unexpectedly drops 10% during a particular week you’ll need to dig into a deep dive of conversation reviews for that week and see if you can find a trend or cause for the drop. Lastly, it’s extremely important you also spend some time doing individual analysis.
So let’s say your team gets three new agents. Make sure to review as many of their conversations as possible. Follow this up by delivering reports to their respective team leads.
And we’re done!
I hope I’ve been able to give you a glimpse into the life of a support QA agent, and possibly even inspired and shown you the path to advance your customer service career.
Investing in the right support software helps you save significantly on time. This allows you to focus on what matters the most: providing feedback to your support agents to improve the quality of your customer service.
Got more questions? Join the Quality Tribe and ask away. And I’ll try to answer them to the best of my abilities 🙂