The Difference between Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Buddying and Team Leading

Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Buddying and Team Leading often get confused. The four roles have similar elements, in that they are all involved in assuring that a firm reaches a high level of competence, but each function is a different cog in the quality machine of a PBR or complaints team.

What is Buddying?

When a new Case Handler joins, they will first complete some initial training where they will learn the firm’s basic standards and productivity requirements. As part of this on-boarding process, they will often get a Buddy.

This Buddy will be someone who is a highly experienced Case Handler and is competent in everything the new person is expected to do. The Buddy is there to answer questions as they arise so that knowledge is quickly embedded which means they will usually sit at the newcomer’s right hand in order to observe, guide and support them.

What are Team Leaders?

A Team Leader role is more straightforward – they lead the team. Just like a Manager, a Team Leader will ensure that all members are working towards the same output, and that everybody is reaching their full potential both in terms of quality and capacity.

The Team Leader will allocate cases amongst the team, organise the work schedule, ensure targets are set and take responsibility for overall quality. They will receive information from the Quality Assurance and Quality Control and implement training to deal with changing requirements. Some firms will ask Team Leaders to act as Quality Controllers, however this dual role tends to lead to confusion so either productivity or quality suffer, which means we don’t usually advise this.

What is Quality Control?

The role of Quality Control (QC) is to ensure that responses to complaints meet the firm’s quality standards and the regulators expectations. Quality Control Managers do this by regularly reviewing case files and reporting back to the business on their findings.

QC will usually have a training and development aspect to their role, meaning that as well as identifying issues on file, they will discuss these with Case Handlers and train them to avoid the same mistakes being made in future.  QC will often create libraries of example letters and pro-forma replies to guide Case Handlers through responding to different situations.

QC (and QA Managers) will usually grade the issues they find as either major or minor, and both of these can be described as impacting the customer or not impacting the customer.

A minor issue that doesn’t impact the customer may be something like a typo in a Final Response Letter, whereas a major issue that doesn’t impact the customer might be a poor investigation that doesn’t entirely comply with quality processes.

Of course, the most important issues are ‘major’ issues with customer impact, for example a customer receiving the wrong outcome to their complaint.

A ratio of one QC per 25 Case Handlers is right for fairly simple products, and that person will administer a database where all the QC results are recorded, allowing them to highlight poor performers and deal with them accordingly. Individual poor performance in complaints handling environments kills overall productivity.

The QC should also be actively improving quality by highlighting, perhaps, three key issues and delivering training on these issues each week, so that over time those issues can be eradicated and quality control can reach 99%.

What is Quality Assurance?

Finally, we come to the role of Quality Assurance (QA), which is the final piece to the quality puzzle. Usually Quality Assurance is done by an Auditor, Skilled Person or an independent function who will visit and review the project on an infrequent basis to give an independent overview of how the project is progressing and offer appropriate feedback.

When Quality Assurance comes in, there should be absolutely no surprises as QC should have already identified any issues before reaching this stage.

If all these separate parts are working well, the firm can rest in the knowledge that quality control is bring executed proficiently, but just like a well-oiled machine, if one part stops working, then the whole system is in jeopardy, and this is why it’s so important that duties are clear.

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