This guide will steer you through the ins and outs of managing customer service quality. Customer expectations are rising. Follow our lead to meet and surpass their standards.
When customers judge every interaction, every interaction counts.
Over 80% of customers are likely to avoid doing business with you if you fail to show you care.
Consequently, companies that prioritize support quality are leading the way. Optimize how you speak to your customers to push yourself into that bracket — quality customer service deserves conscientious management.
What is quality customer service?
Quality customer service is about more than just answering questions. Although excellent customer service looks slightly different for every industry, there are commonly shared values:
- Ease of use
- Quick response
- Style & tone of voice
- Driving product engagement & growth
- Being customer-centric
We asked support leaders to help us dig into the details of these 5 overriding characteristics of quality customer service:
Ease of use
You need to make it as easy as possible for customers to find the answers to their questions. This means being proactive about solving known problems and eliminating friction.
That might look something like creating a detailed, easily searchable help center so that existing customers can easily find the answers to common questions within a knowledge base. You want your knowledge base to be a bank rich with information about your product/service. This could also include using effective chatbots and auto-responses to answer repetitive questions and relieve customer service reps from this burden.
They will have more time and energy to combat complex questions one-on-one.
Many support teams measure their ‘ease of use’ with a Customer Effort Score (CES).
Speed isn’t everything, but the time your agents take to respond is one of the first impressions you leave on a customer. If they have to wait too long, it immediately signals a flaw in the design of your customer support process.
Over 60% of consumers say a fast resolution is the most important factor when it comes to great customer service. Patience is not abundant — don’t start off on the wrong foot!
First Response Time (FRT) and Average Handle Time (AHT) are popular KPIs for support teams used to measure and understand performance trends. Improve these customer support metrics with effective coaching, templates & shortcuts, and prioritizing responses.
Remember though, a quick answer does not necessarily mean an accurate one. Your customer also deserves a thorough response.
Style and tone of voice
Although more difficult to quantify, the best customer support agents know that attitude and approach are as important as correct answers.
Therefore, many businesses choose Tone and Style as one of their conversation review categories. It’s an aspect of measuring customer service quality that must be defined and assessed internally. How you say something is as important as what you say.
As the correct tone can vary per business, Internal Quality Score (IQS) is the perfect customer service metric for teams who want to keep a close eye on tone and style. Internal reviews are the best way for managers to understand team performance on internal standards such as style & tone.
PS We’re just kidding. Of course, it’s a cat.
Driving product engagement and growth
A support team’s direct connection to your customer can strengthen product engagement and customer loyalty. Proactive support reps improve customer knowledge about products and services offered, as well as promote upgrades and new features.
The customer support team is your business’ mouthpiece. 84% of companies say that positive customer experiences improve revenue.
A customer-centric approach
It sounds obvious that businesses should make the customer a focal point in their customer service strategy. Quality customer service is about more than anticipating their problems, it’s also about making decisions that consistently put your customer first.
Being truly customer-centric is about giving your support team a voice in your company to influence decision-making across departments. Don’t be shy about making this obvious.
It pays to let your customers know that their input has an impact.
How to measure the quality of your customer service?
To evaluate your support, you’ve got to check in on the data. There are many metrics that you can track to understand how your support team is performing. But sometimes there are enough anagrams to fit into a crossword and make you go cross-eyed. Focusing on a few metrics that you can reliably track is better than tracking everything all at once.
To sum up, here are the most important metrics for measuring customer service quality:
- CES (Customer Effort Score) reflects the amount of work your customers have to put in to solve their problem.
- FRT (First Response Time) shows how long your customers have to wait before getting an initial response from a support rep.
- AHT (Average Handle Time) calculates the average amount of time that a customer service representative spends handling a customer interaction.
- IQS (Internal Quality Score) rates your customer service conversations in the form of conversation reviews.
- CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) measures how happy customers are with your service.
Why is it important to provide quality customer service?
99% of customer support experts believe that customers have higher expectations of service quality now than ever before. Investing in quality is important to make sure you stay ahead of your competitors (or at least keep up with them!). But providing excellent customer experiences also plays a big part in generating company revenue and growth.
It’s a two-way relationship
Customer relationships are important because they provide deeper insight into the customer needs, and offer opportunities to ask for referrals and recommendations. Think of your support team as the front line for your business.
When your existing customers have a connection with your business, they’re willing to help you out — whether that’s with customer feedback or growing your business. Your success becomes shared. This requires listening, understanding, and acting on what your customers tell you. Train your support team to foster meaningful customer relationships.
Customer loyalty equals growth
Customer service plays an important role in keeping customers around. Customer retention and loyalty are indispensable for growing businesses.
Every customer service representative should also be trained to drive product adoption and engagement, introduce new features, and offer premium features.
Support-driven growth is about seeing a customer service team as a revenue driver, not a cost center. With this approach, your support team is an integral asset to revenue generation. Failing to tap into this potential means missing a critical opportunity in your growth strategy.
One meaningful customer interaction nurtures loyalty, while many meaningful customer interactions nurture growth.
The bottom line is: Invest in your customer-facing team: the dividends will pay off.
Start out by envisioning where you want your team to be. After setting the right goals, you need to find the right people & software to achieve your goals and measure the right metrics to track progress. With all the pieces in place, you have the contours of success.
Who should be managing the quality of customer service?
Although managing customer service quality often falls on the shoulders of — you guessed it — managers, having dedicated staff will spell out greater success in the long run.
Usually, this position is called a Customer Service Quality Assurance Specialist, but since it’s still a relatively new and evolving role, the job title could be listed as ‘Support QA Specialist’, ‘Conversation Review Specialist’, ‘Customer Service Quality Specialist’, or ‘Training and Quality Manager’.
A customer service QA specialist’s responsibilities include:
- Defining & developing internal support quality standards
- Monitoring customer service performance on team & agent levels
- Reviewing conversations across communication channels
- Providing meaningful, constructive feedback to help coach agents
- Establishing support KPIs and analyzing customer service metrics (CSAT, FRT, IQS, etc)
- Participate in calibration sessions to maintain support consistency
- Map the need for onboarding, training & coaching program
Hiring a specialist to manage quality customer service is a surefire way to fortify your goals.
For your quality program to be successful, conversation reviews need to be done regularly — QA specialists alleviate this burden from managers. They also help lower the grading bias when conducting reviews, so feedback can be more objective. If you are scaling your team, a manager needs to be on the ground with them, so delegating customer service quality management to a specialist can help them focus on the bigger picture.
What quality goals should you set for your support team?
Defining where you want to be is the first step to actually getting there. Goal setting is an important practice for teams just as much as for individuals. You’ve likely heard the proverb, ‘what gets measured, gets managed’ — setting goals improves focus and helps your employees understand their priorities.
If you set SMART support quality goals for your team it clears the pathway for your team to progress.
Top tips for setting customer service goals:
- Start with your support vision
What do you do? Who do you serve? How do you serve them?
- Align with company-wide goals
You want your support team to operationally coordinate with the rest of the company and feel valuable to the wider efforts.
- Set SMART goals
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-dependent
- Tie goals to your customer service metrics
The proof is in the pudding.
Check in on industry averages to benchmark where you want your team to be. As a decisive factor in people’s buying decisions, you want to match (or exceed!) user expectations and beat your competition. Zendesk’s customer service benchmarks are a perfect place to start your quest.
Example of customer service goals
Say you’re a cat-food delivery business. Yum.
You want to deliver excellent customer service to existing and potential customers, as well as upsell yearly subscriptions.
- Your goals are to achieve 85% CSAT and 92% IQS by the end of the year.
- You aim to keep your FRT below 2 hours, on both email and live chat.
- You will create a new ‘Upselling products’ rating category in conversation reviews and all agents should score at least 80%.
Throughout the year, you will track metrics to assess performance and conduct specific coaching sessions.
What tools do you need to measure quality in the long run?
The purpose of quality management software is to make the process of improving your support quality effective and efficient. These tools help you give internal feedback, coach your customer service teams, and track progress.
Many companies start out using spreadsheets to organize and monitor their support QA processes. For small teams and low conversation volume, this can work for a limited time.
For companies looking to grow, with support teams that have to contend with onboarding and coaching new agents, a manual QA process starts to both tangle and unravel.
Dissatisfied customers are likely to tell up to 15 people about bad service experiences. Those aren’t the kind of rumors you want to be spreading, especially if you have your eyes set on growth. For excellent support quality, you need a tight-knit QA process.
Internal quality assessments can take hours of work. If you switch to a dedicated quality assurance program, your managers or QA specialists can say goodbye to manual labor. They can focus instead on what matters: analyzing the metrics, targeted process improvements, and coaching teams to excellence.
Save time, resources, and customers with a customer service quality management system.
88% of service leaders believe that their current tech stack holds them back from achieving their goals. When considering different tools, always ask yourself if this is going to make your QA process simpler and better.
There are several tools for managing support quality. You want one that will connect to your current tech stack and help make QA a habit. The best customer service quality management program is one that gets used.
Automated customer service quality management with Klaus
Seems like a lot of work? The good news is, your quality management process can now be automated. Specialized quality management solutions like Klaus can dramatically cut down on administrative overhead and make the QA process more efficient.
Here’s how Klaus automates customer service quality management:
- Every support interaction can be processed by Klaus’ proprietary ML engine for an instant understanding of your support landscape.
- Auto-scoring every agent and support interaction across multiple categories and languages means that you can achieve 100% coverage
- Klaus acts less like an assistant and more like a coworker. There is no model training required with our plug & play solution, simply step in and get to work.
Companies have reduced the time they spend on their support QA process by up to 90% with Klaus. That’s a lot more time freed up to focus on increasing customer satisfaction.
Your next steps
So, you’ve learned that managing quality customer service is a continual process; even once you’ve reached your goals, excellence requires maintenance.
If you are a business that wants to invest in improving your customer service quality management — you are in good company. Other customer service professionals are making leaps and bounds in the name of quality.
· Chat with us about how Klaus can get you started on your quality control journey.
· Join our community, Quality Tribe, to discuss customer service with like-minded customer service professionals.
· Read our blog! Knowledge is power and we offer quality customer service tips for free.
Originally published in January 2022, last updated in October 2023.