4 Steps For Building Scalable Customer Support

4 steps to scalable customer support
 

In the age of digital media and social networks, the power of the individual customer has never been stronger. It has been estimated that a single bad review on Yelp can decrease a business' revenue by between 5 - 9%. Alternatively, an incredibly positive review can go viral, become a national news story and boost revenues instantly. So, when is the right time to start building a top notch scalable customer support team? The moment you have customers, paying or not, you should start building a scalable customer support team with these 4 crucial steps:

1) Invest in a Help Desk Platform

Help desk platforms integrate all modes of service communication (social media, email, chat support) into a single, easy to use interface. When issues arise, help desks provide an easy way for your team to record, categorize and respond to customer complaints and requests. Most importantly, help desk platforms like ZenDesk or FreshDesk provide a system for your team to identify and address repetitive problems that can dominate your customer request queue. Put simply, it's Pareto's 80/20 rule in practice - your team can now provide a quick solution to the most common issues that they spend 80% of their time responding to. Investing in a platform gives your support team the power to identify key issues and quickly respond to them with standard, predefined answers.

2) Document, Document, Document

Our clients with the best customer service have made it an evangelical practice to ensure that every process and response is clearly documented. Having a help desk platform makes this easy, but it isn't by any means mandatory. Whether it's a scripted email response to a common question or issue, or a written script to handle common customer complaints, it all needs to be written down. This becomes critical as your support team grows in size; your growing team needs this material to professionally handle issues in a manner consistent to your brand. It's worthwhile to sit with you team and agree on answers to common issues and ways in which to handle complaints. Turnover is common in customer support, and it's important that an incoming team member can pick up where the last left off.

3) Hire an Advocate from the Get-Go

We sometimes see a situation where a business's product / developer team is far removed from its support team. In this situation a service rep can answer a common issue, but the problem never actually gets fixed. Hiring a customer advocate to your core team from the get-go gives product & development a direct point of contact for all issues. We've seen a huge amount of user engagement in companies that have kept this in mind, and thus positive growth. More importantly, when they look for an outside partner to increase support scale, the advocate is the natural single point of contact to handle the project. Collaboration is imperative as companies scale rapidly and departments become siloed. A passionate brand advocate can serve as the lynchpin connecting your valued customers with the brains behind your product or service.

4) Find a 3rd Party Vendor for Growth

Once everything is documented and demand for your product is bursting at the seams, it's time to look outside for a 3rd party vendor to handle scale. Outsourcing it a great solution to accommodate an increase or decrease in demand because it provides your company the flexibility it needs for unpredictable changes in growth. When looking for an outside vendor, some key things to consider are: language proficiency, cost & management. If your product is complex in nature and services developers, chances are that you want your outsourced support team to stay domestic. If that's not the case however, then looking for an international provider is your best bet for cost-savings. Here at TaskUs, our center is in the Philippines because we've found it to be the best place in the world to find English-speaking agents dollar for dollar. Strong management is key to ensuring that your outsourced support team stays consistent with your company brand. It's important that your vendor partner has domestic-based point of contact that can understand your needs and brand drivers as a whole.

Unfortunately, many companies are reactionary when it comes to building their customer support infrastructure. A customer's horror story going viral causes a company to hire a high-powered customer service executive ($175k), retain an elite public relations team to do damage control ($15k per month) and implement a re-branding national advertising campaign ($60-$100k) just to stop the revenue bleeding. Fortunately, you can build preventative measures by developing a scalable customer support team that will turn disgruntled customers into brand advocates.

Michael Buenaventura

May 21, 2014