When you’re doing a very good job and please your customers with a high-quality product, an inevitable result of growth happens to your company. You start having more clients in your base, the range of products/services grows, your departments become bigger (some appear from scratch), processes get more sophisticated, and you find it hard to scale support to stay as effective as you were at some previous point in time.
How to correctly scale the customer support process to avoid high losses or becoming much less personal? This is a tricky task. Solving it requires connected and orchestrated work between your departments. After all, you don’t want just to spend money to hire more support specialists. And you can’t become too plunged into informational technology to waive off the entire personal touch between your clients and your company’s employees. Although you should rely on automation, this must be done very carefully and cleverly.
Customer service processes characterization and segmenting
The first thing to start with during the service scale-up is to look at the existing processes of communication with customers to define:
- through what channels information comes to you
- is it segmented anyhow (to differentiate among the importance of clients, the urgency of their requests, a subject, or otherwise)
- what information and data about customers do your operators deal with
- how many client requests do you have and how fast they are processed
- which clients address for help more often.
After you look at the initial data, you can draw up many conclusions that shall turn into tasks of scaling-up.
Customer service process flow automation
Many modern companies resort to implementing a CRM system with an integrated Call Center (CC) module to handle many of the regular tasks of scaling. CC is usually empowered with loads of possibilities for employees of the support service to work:
- multiple channels of contact
- retrieving client data immediately upon contacting to see it (which’s ultra-important during the call or live chat), as well as it shall be connected to various workflows, like initiating a product/service offering, changing client data, exploring current contractual conditions, block/restore access, etc.
- form various reporting
- see manually and automatically formed tickets, pick them up, and work with them.
There exist many turnkey solutions on the market (like Super Office or Intercom) but it is not infrequent that companies also resort to their in-house developments.
With a CRM + CC, a company will be able to segment the urgency and importance of client requests, look at the real-time contact funnel, manage workflows of support employees through the system of workflows, and monitor various data.
A lot of managerial decisions shall be made during the process. For instance, a ticketing system. With wise consideration, it can become a real help for operators, while a bad solution could be a tool, making them consider leaving their jobs.
A ticket system
During the elaboration of a ticketing system on your enterprise, you shall define:
- whether there will be multiple email accounts/phone lines, each for its own type of problem (billing, IT, HR, “not working, help me”, product, etc.) or a segment of clients (corporate, private, SME, etc.)
- a possibility to search by keywords in requests to forward them to specific support employees
- different lines of support (1st for standard questions and product/company questions, 2nd for technical, 3rd for the rest, requiring deep work).
Out of previous solution (after you dive into all details), it will be easier for you to develop various public or internal chatbots, which can potentially solve from 10% to 90% of client issues (that would depend on the area of your business, typology of the client requests, their complexity, and the ability of formalization of client requests and your products). Many questions can be resolved via self-learning chatbots with AI and links to FAQ during the conversation with a bot. This creates effective self-service, which is of utmost importance in the Covid world. Also, the bot would alleviate the workload of the 1st (or even of the 2nd) line of support, freeing hundreds or thousands of working hours a year.
Measure the right KPIs
Although you could establish various KPIs such as a time of closure of client’s requests, not all of them deserve being a part of estimation the efficacy of the operator’s work. For instance, if you say that the lesser the time for closure the better, operators will strive to minimize this time, not caring about the quality of solving the client’s needs per se. So while you could use such an indicator as a measurement of efficacy in general (especially for newcomers to your support service during an onboarding process), you should focus on quality, which are client retaining, satisfaction, and recurrent purchases.
Automation of mass operations
In a good CC module, you shall have a possibility of automation through:
- creation of macros, which will redirect tickets amongst employees
- using templates of replies
- using batch replies on the same questions from multiple clients
- using live chat automation.
Although these come only for written client requests, they still can save hundreds of hours annually for a large-scale company.
Don’t lose grip of your corporate values
As an average operator may be overwhelmed with hundreds of tickets every day, they may forget about usual politeness. So saying “Good Afternoon” and “Goodbye” must be rigidly controlled (an instrument for that may be listening to records of conversations). In writing, inserting these and similar phrases may be realized through the script. Controlling this may be a part of a broader evaluation of performance efficiency.
Conclusion on how to scale a service business
Remember that customer support as a service is important for your company’s growth. According to many recent studies, about half of clients want to receive an answer to their request within 6 hours while nearly every client gives a company only 24 hours for a piece of feedback. So if you ignore a client’s request, you will likely lose them. However, you shall not invest too much money into hiring more employees of support dept., as it might simply be too costly for your company.