Quality assurance (QA) is a critical business function, ensuring that products and services are compliant with regulation and meet customer needs. However, there are some common assumptions about QA within the financial services industry which can limit the effectiveness of this function. In this post, we challenge some of these and highlight the importance of rethinking QA within financial services.

It’s assumed that by analysing a small number of calls, QA teams can get a good sense of the overall situation. The reality is that every call can be different, so relying on just a handful of data points could lead you astray. To really understand each caller’s experience – from start to end – it pays off for these teams to evaluate all calls using tech such as speech analytics and AI-powered tools, which can help them do it efficiently.

While complaints can provide valuable insights into customer satisfaction, they only represent a fraction of customer interactions. Some businesses fail to take into account customers who express dissatisfaction but don’t make an official complaint.

Monitoring complaints and expressions of dissatisfaction over time and at scale, and tying this data to business activities can provide valuable insights and meaningful trends, giving companies a better understanding of how changes affect customer satisfaction. For example, if a change in communication leads to an increase in incidences where customers express dissatisfaction, businesses can use this information to refine their approach and improve customer outcomes.

QA is often viewed as a tick-box exercise for the benefit of regulatory compliance. However, this narrow view overlooks the potential of QA to drive innovation and improve customer experience. QA teams should be encouraged to think beyond compliance and look for ways to add value to the business, such as identifying areas for improvement in training and coaching, sales and marketing, or insights to developing new product features for example. 

In reality, QA has extensive benefits beyond being a regulatory compliance tool and can ultimately become the central nervous system to your company. It can be utilised as the single source of actionable data across the organisation, helping to improve everything from training, marketing, sales, customer experience, customer service, product and service development and all angles of the business.

assumptions of QA in financial services

QA is often seen as a reactive function, focused on detecting and correcting errors after they occur. But QA can also play a proactive role in driving continuous improvement and innovation. By analysing customer interactions and identifying areas for improvement, QA teams can help the business to stay ahead of the curve and drive a better customer experience. For example, it can help the early identification of customers whose circumstances have changed and would benefit from different products or services, or vulnerable customers who need additional support to receive the help they need, leading to better customer outcomes.

Another one of many QA assumptions in the financial services industry is that it is is a one-time process, focused on auditing products and services at a specific point in time. This view ignores the fact that trends and customer expectations can change over time. Ongoing monitoring is a requirement for Consumer Duty as the FCA expects customer satisfaction to be monitored throughout the lifetime of a product or service so remedial action can be taken as soon as an issue occurs.

With changing regulatory expectations, it’s essential to structure QA as an ongoing monitoring and continuous improvement process to ensure that products and services remain compliant and meet the needs of customers for the long term.

While automation can help to streamline QA processes and reduce costs, it is not a silver bullet. It’s important to recognise both the opportunities and limitations of automation. Whilst technology is evolving quickly to help teams automate mundane, time-consuming tasks, firms should be mindful that for important decisions and advice, a human+ approach is critical. Using this approach, QA teams can strike a balance between automation and human input to ensure the best possible outcomes.

This is a common misconception that fails to recognise the importance of balancing efficiency and rigour in QA. While there are elements of the QA process that are slow, that can easily be fixed with tech – but there are also other areas that take time for good reason. For example, an in depth review of a high risk case involving fraud may require pulling in information from multiple systems.

Efficient QA processes require a streamlined approach that focuses on key priorities and eliminates unnecessary steps that do not add value. This can be achieved by adopting modern QA tools and techniques that machine assesses the data, striking a balance between efficiency and meticulousness, and enhancing the overall efficiency of the QA process.

Given the importance of regulatory compliance and customer experience in financial services, QA is relevant to all areas of the industry. It should apply to any firm, but especially those with a retail element, particularly in light of incoming Consumer Duty expectations.

At the very least, firms should be recording calls should they need to recall them in the future for any reason to review.  A credit/debt company could analyse calls to ensure adherence to Consumer Duty, wealth and advice firms could monitor calls for market abuse, training and development purposes, or general adherence to company policies and procedures.

There’s a range of opportunities to leverage its benefits when these assumptions of QA in heavily regulated industries like financial services are removed. It’s important for QA teams to adopt a more holistic and ongoing approach to QA, leveraging modern tools and techniques, to ensure their firm’s long-term success in a rapidly evolving industry.