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How Buffer’s QA went from Manual to Masterful with QA

Buffer Klaus


Customer Advocates


working arrangement


less time spent on QA


reviews per month per agent


Buffer is a social media management platform with customers including Microsoft and Shopify. Buffer uses Zendesk QA to keep their customer advocacy team top-notch. We chatted to Ross Parmly and Darcy Peters, Customer Advocacy Managers, about the benefits of using a support QA tool. 

“Ticket reviews are one of those important factors in keeping a support team sharp but often fall aside when the process is cumbersome or complex. Zendesk QA has made it easy for us to integrate these into the natural course of our work, and it’s exciting to have a tool that feels like it’s designed to make this process simple, easy, and repeatable.”

Ross Parmly, Customer Advocacy Manager

Buffer’s platform is all about engagement and connection – values that bleed into their work culture, too. Buffer has a fully remote Customer Advocacy team of 25. Their Advocacy Team goes above and beyond to help customers succeed with the product. A blend of support and success, advocates are available for more than just fixing issues and are a vital limb of the company. 

When they were looking for the right customer service QA tool, Zendesk QA (formerly Klaus) stood out for three main reasons:

  1. Easy to set up per-agent filters and quickly find tickets.
  2. Ability to match quality goals with customizable scorecards. 
  3. Interaction & exchange of ideas between reviewer and agent. 

Buffer case study

Manual to masterful 

“Our process prior to Zendesk QA was much more manual than it is today. Typically we’d go through a manual list of tickets, randomly pull some for each of our Advocates, and do a written review in a shared document.

The process was clunky and time-consuming, requiring a lot of manual work from our Advocacy Leads and resulted in less overall quantity of reviews compared to utilizing Zendesk QA.”

When customer service teams realize they need a quality assurance program, they tend to start on spreadsheets and shared documents. An easy solution, they think – easy tools, no set-up time, low-cost. 

But as time goes on and the team scales, all of these benefits melt away. 

Debunking manual ‘benefits’

  • Easy tools
    Not so simple when spreadsheets multiply and grow legs when there are large staff turnovers and suddenly upkeep gets complicated
  • Low set-up time
    Maybe several managers are on top of the process, but how easy is handover when/if they leave? And what about when teams expand?
  • Low-cost
    You might not be spending money on software, but calculate the man-hours it takes to keep up with the manual work. Not to mention the cost of lower quality customer service as this process unravels.

“With Zendesk QA, we have a system that lets us review tickets quickly on a ‘pass or fail’ rating across categories. We can quickly determine if a ticket meets our quality standards.

We’ve also found it helpful to have a filter set up for each teammate and try to pick tickets from throughout the review period (generally a month’s worth of tickets). We tend to skip any tickets that contain a macro, auto-response, or a snippet so that we are reviewing unique work from each teammate.”

Read more: Reasons to switch from spreadsheets to QA tool 

How does Buffer define quality?

Buffer uses three rating categories, carefully selected to encompass their support goals: 


  • Was the customer’s question answered?
  • Did the advocate truly listen to the customer?
  • Was the customer addressed with the correct name? 
  • Was the urgency of the question equally matched in the response?


  • Was proper grammar and spelling used?
  • Did they avoid repetition, jargon, or ‘insider’ terminology?
  • Were their instructions accurate & clear?


  • Did the advocate use everything in their power to find a resolution (research, customer history, etc)?
  • Was the ticket resolved in as few steps as possible? 
  • Was the ticket only escalated if absolutely necessary?

In other words, their support team is ACE! 

Some customer service teams may struggle to define what their customer service goals are – at Zendesk QA, we recommend that teams look first at company-wide objectives. Each department’s objective should fit into the larger goals. This is especially true for the voice of the company; in Buffer’s case, their advocates. 

“We review 5-10 conversations per advocate per month, with increasing or decreasing quantity depending on

1) time at the company

2) any current performance concerns

3) track record of high reviews.”

The People Managers on the team conduct their reviews, however, interaction is encouraged. Conversation reviews have a higher purpose when they spark conversation and learning. This is why the team plans to incorporate Peer Reviews in the near future. 

It’s not all about the final score

Buffer has baseline standards for quality that advocates are expected to meet. But scores aren’t everything – their ethos and practices are about consistently striving to do better.

This works on both a company and individual level. It’s not about perfection but progression – after all, there’s no upper limit when it comes to quality customer service.

“There may be times when a ticket gets full marks, and we still pass along guidance or advise the Advocate to think about something differently. When this happens, things are working as designed!

Even if a ticket meets our minimum standards for Awareness, Clarity, and Empowerment, there still may be small improvements we can make (even if they don’t impact the Advocate’s quality score negatively).”

Using a platform to speed up the quality process allows Buffer to both hit the baseline and push growth. Zendesk QA automates the admin of quality assurance, and our data features give a fast vantage point from which to gain ground. With less time spent maintaining their review program, managers are free for more analytical thinking.

“At Buffer, one of our values is to practice reflection. Even if all of the quantitative stats look to be moving along swimmingly, pausing to reflect and assess the qualitative data that we can gather through ticket reviews could be the leading indicator that saves us from the future demise of those lagging indicators (like CSAT and first response time) down the line.”

Darcy Peters, Customer Advocacy Manager

Read more: How quality assurance affects customer satisfaction

Moving on up

‘Awareness, clarity, and empowerment’ also fits with Buffer’s internal ethos for employees and customers alike. Buffer’s due diligence to progress is impressive.

So, what are their future plans? 

Nurturing employee growth

“We use a career framework at Buffer to help calibrate a teammate’s salary, seniority, and responsibility. As part of the career framework for an Advocate, there are quality standards they must achieve as a baseline as part of their work. We use QA reviews to ensure that teammates are keeping the quality of their work high even as they grow at the company and end up taking on more work.

Empowering their customers

We are always trying to push the bar forward on customer support, and think of better ways to serve our customers! This year we’re excited to continue expanding on self-help efforts to help customers more quickly as they are using Buffer. While we’re always happy to assist any customer that writes to us, if we can get them up-and-running before they even have to send us an email, we feel that’s a better overall experience.”

Overall, Zendesk QA has given both Ross and Darcy the freedom to make the most out of reviews. 

“I no longer dread ticket reviews with the admin component out of the equation! I get to enjoy all of the great parts of them – celebrating awesome interactions, learning new things, observing trends.”

“I feel like Zendesk QA has probably cut down my time spent per review by around half when you factor in all of the manual work we did prior.”

Customers are far more likely to do business with companies who push the boat out. Are you, like Buffer, thinking proactively? 

Invest in customer service quality with Zendesk QA.

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Written by

Grace Cartwright
Grace is perpetually working on a self-help book entitled ’Where Did I Put My Keys?’. In her free time, she writes for Klaus.

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