A never ending question for folks in the Customer Support world is: “How do we increase the quality of our replies?”. You want your customers to get the best possible service, and you want your agents to know how to provide that level of quality.

Before you can get to the ‘how’, however, you’ll need to look at your ‘what’. What exactly constitutes a quality reply?

According to Dictionairy.com, quality is defined as follows:


noun, plural qual·i·ties.

an essential or distinctive characteristic, property, or attribute:
the chemical qualities of alcohol.

character or nature, as belonging to or distinguishing a thing:
the quality of a sound.

character with respect to fineness, or grade of excellence:
food of poor quality; silks of fine quality.

high grade; superiority; excellence:
wood grain of quality.

In Customer Service, we could define quality as excellence in communication. It is a level of communicating that serves the interest of the company, as well as the customer, in a way that creates a long lasting relationship.

Therefore, a quality interaction with a customer is one that excels in the areas that your company has defined as necessary. Defining what quality looks like for your team is heavily influenced by the field your company works in.

For example: your company could be focusing on providing technical advice to not-so-technical people. In that case, you will want your support agents to excel in translating jargon. If they consistently get the point across without having to resort to jargon, that’s a sign of high quality work.

CSAT Does Not Define Quality

Simply put, CSAT tells us that there is a percentage of customers who felt compelled enough to leave a rating. While an interaction can result in a good CSAT rating, I would argue it’s not an indication of whether the interaction was of high quality.

Imagine this: a customer comes in looking for a discount, because their previous purchase did not live up to expectations. Our agent responds to the request with a begrudging: “Fine, have a discount” – but fails to hit the mark with empathy (ignoring the underlying frustration, not taking clear steps to resolve the previous experience).

A scenario like this may result in a good CSAT score because the customer received the discount they originally wanted, but if we were objectively look at how the agent constructed their message, we would see that the quality of that interaction is off.

So, while we can agree that CSAT is not the marker for a high quality interaction, it does allow us to compare the quality scores we give our agents internally to the feedback we get from our customers (which is the topic for a next blog!).

How DO You Define Quality, Then?

I like to look at constructing a good interaction as building something out of Lego blocks. These blocks are elements of different colors, which I can use to cross-reference whether my work is up to snuff. These blocks can look like:

  • Have I empathized with the user?
  • Did I follow the expected protocols, especially in the case of account recovery?
  • Is my grammar on point?
  • Have I provided documentation where it’s appropriate?
  • And so on.

These building blocks are typically specific to the field of work you find yourself in, and there’s a trick to discovering them if you’re in the position of creating a rubric or scorecard for your team.

The first thing you can do is to look at what your high performers are currently doing to provide high quality work. Which elements are always present in their interactions, and can you find across each conversation they touch? It’s good to work with multiple different agents if you can.

The second is to really take a good look at what the expectation in processes is for your agents. Think of account recovery protocols, the refund process, or even pre-sales – can you identify which steps you are expecting your agents to take, and outline them so they become trackable?

What are you tracking?

Have you set up a scorecard for your customer support team, and are you tracking anything specific? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

I’d also really love to hear what other Customer Support Quality topics you’d want to read more about. Let me cater the content of this website specifically to what you need to coach your team 🙂

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1 Comments on “Defining Quality In Customer Support”

  1. We track (1) Time to first response (2) Number of replies to resolution (3) number of hours to resolution — we track a ton of other things as well, but those three make up the most important metrics for quality of support as metrics are concerned.

    In addition to that, we regularly review our good and bad helpscout ratings in conversation. This is a softer metric, so we use it as a way to have conversations around providing better support.

    The combination of metrics and self-review is really powerful for us.

    Great piece! Keep up the great content!

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