If you ask a small startup what each of their staff needs for their customer support operation, you’ll get a fairly tidy answer.
As a small company, the customer support journey is limited to small number of people and processes to reach a resolution.
But the story changes when you’re talking about scaling businesses. First of all, there are now managers for each department. The work that used to be done by a small team now needs to be organized among many.
While this is happening, every responsibility is amplified across the company. For support, sales and marketing leaders, this is what moving from people to processes looks like to them:
- They’re under pressure to account for minutes and seconds, across hundreds and even thousands of people.
- They have more staff to manage within and between teams
- They have different kinds of customers (and different levels of information to collect from and convey to each of them)
“You design your org chart, hire your new people, get the new team together and quickly discover that they have no clue how to work together effectively,” says entrepreneur Joel York about the scaling experience.
What Should You Want To Customize?
As an organization grows, the links and flows between staff in the same department get more complex.
It’s when you’re able to successfully map out the real world structure at the service desk level, that customization really shines.
As a business, you should be working on reducing the chances of human error as much as possible. You also want to build efficiency into your organization – both in the way you collect and convey information to your customers.
But above all, you need to customize for consistency. Consistency is the first thing to go when scaling businesses don’t plan for growth.
The way you communicate your brand
Your support journey is the most personal way your visitors and customers experience your brand. If you’re delivering great service, your name should be all over it.
Branded chat windows
Branded email communication
The Processes You Need For Efficient Scaling
Workflows and processes force every case onto a logical path through the helpdesk, moving them from status to status, department to department, throughout its entire life cycle.
Here’s how customizing processes can help you during your growth:
Handle a growing volume of customer messages
You’ll have a growing variety of customers to manage. Some will be new and will generally need hand-holding. Others will be regulars who message you occasionally. Still others will call in urgently. You might set up a workflow like this:
- Prioritize the queue based on urgency, issue type, or customer start date
- Route accordingly. Newer customers to onboarding specialists; urgent issues to reps with more experience, etc.
Know and remember your customers
Over time, your aim should be minimize the questions you ask and maximize the customer information you do have. Customers hate having to repeat information and conversely, highly value companies that know and “remember” them. This is how it might look in action:
- Collect information from customers so you can categorize (e.g. laptop type, product type)
- Route to reps that specialize in the product or issue type.
- Record this customer information in your records so next time they call, you simply verify/confirm what you already have and move them through to the next stage of resolution.
Guarantee quality and consistency
Quality assurance usually steps in after the fact, but the better metrics you’re able to collect, the better job you can do before things go wrong:
- Play to your reps’ strengths. Organize your support team by skill (incl. language, expertise, experience level, etc.). it could be “French-speaker” or ‘engineer” and so on, but when you know your customers and their issue type, you can route calls straight to the rep best-equipped to handle them.
- Never forget. Have an alert sent out to the team on every ticket that fails your private SLA.
- Mark and tag cases. So you can bucket tagged cases and study them for insights.
Run reports the entire company needs to see
Now let’s look at the reports you can build out of the information you collect.
Let’s say you have a custom field dropdown for Issue Category and reps select one every time they close a ticket. Now, you want to know how much time it’s taking to reset account passwords.
So when you run a report, you could for example add in “time worked” grouped by “password reset” and the output would be:
Password Reset: 2 days 3 hours, 30 seconds
Account Setup: 4 hours, 2 mins, 10 seconds
Then as a manager you could ask: “Why the heck are we wasting 2 days of man hours resetting passwords? We need to fix that.”
You can zoom in on key insights like this quite easily, but you need to a system to collect this information first.
Scaling requires processes to replace people. When a small team eventually makes way for multiple teams, their productivity depends on how you iron out chance and human error from your support operations.
Define those processes now, because they will do the legwork for you as you’re growing. Consider everything you’re measuring manually and move it into the system to be used now (or in the future) as a data point.
They won’t stay the same, but this will help you control the time and cost of your growing operations.