When it comes to running a successful business, growth is inevitable. It’s a surefire sign that you’re doing things right, providing a high standard of customer service quality, and delivering a product people want.
But for some companies, scaling can be scary. When everything is going so well, it feels like the last thing you want to do is change it. But one way to ensure you can scale without compromising on quality is to scale your customer support team too.
This means that however much your customer base expands or your business offering diversifies, you’re still providing what lies at the heart of a successful business: excellent customer service.
It’s not always easy though. According to our recent Customer Service Quality Benchmark Report, in partnership with Klaus, 48% of businesses said maintaining quality was a challenge to their growth.
To better understand how to ensure quality isn’t left in our wake, let’s first explore the importance of scaling customer support.
The Importance of Scaling Customer Support
It’s very likely that customer support is a fundamental reason behind your success. While a business undoubtedly relies on other factors, a good customer support system provides a memorable customer experience that increases brand loyalty.
Scaling can stretch your customer support functions so your team is left spinning twice as many plates as before and failing to deliver the level of service you’re known for.
This is bad news for your customers, but it will also impact your sales team, too, as they’ll quickly become demotivated to truly personalize their customer interactions.
When thinking about how to scale customer support, it can help to look at how your business is growing. Below we explore some of the options.
More markets and more time zones
Expanding into new territories can be exciting, but your customer support team will have to contend with different time zones and additional local market knowledge. This can call for faster onboarding and connecting a dispersed global team.
More products require more conversations
As a business grows, so do its products and services. And with every new offering, your team has more knowledge to develop.
More support; more channels
The pandemic unquestionably changed how customers like to communicate, and how customer support changed with it. While voice remains an important channel for customer connection, meeting expectations has a lot to do with offering more ways to stay in touch.
Define Your Quality
When thinking about how to maintain quality when scaling your customer support functions, it can help to quantify what quality means to you.
Let’s look at some metrics you might want to track below.
Whether CSAT or NPS measurements, you can get a good feel for how happy your customers really are—and crucially—how likely they are to promote your business to others. This is a great asset to have when growing your company.
First response time (FRT)
This is the average time it takes your customer support team to respond to a customer inquiry. As a business scales, it’s important you don’t lose your edge in providing timely responses to customer requests.
First-contact resolution rate (FCR)
This is a way to measure what percentage of customer queries are resolved at first contact.
Much like the above, it can be a figure that bloats as your business scales, but it‘s one you’ll want to keep down to retain your customer base and your reputation.
Average resolution time (ART)
This is a useful metric to gauge how long it takes for a support team’s tickets to be resolved. It will likely vary depending on the sector you’re in. But it’s nevertheless important for you to have a figure in mind to consistently try and hit.
Internal Quality Score (IQS)
This measurement shows how your customer support team is matching up to the quality standards you define internally. It will likely be the scale you most need to invest in as a team, and one very dependent on your individual business.
When deciding on how to scale customer support, you must define your own benchmarks to hit.
However, looking at the context of other businesses to get a read on the competition can be a great place to start.
How to Maintain Quality While Scaling Your Customer Support Team
Your business is nuanced, so scaling customer support while maintaining quality is rarely as simple as just hiring more people.
With this in mind, below we look at cunning ways to scale customer support by diversifying your offering without compromising on the customer experience.
Build an omnichannel strategy
As we mentioned, customers love having multiple ways to contact you. This is because their preference, as well as the nature of their request, can change considerably based on the circumstances. What needs to remain the same, though, is your level of customer experience.
Common channels include:
Building an omnichannel strategy helps you interact with a broader pool of customers and caters to those who have a multi-factor request (or just simply want an answer over text).
Bear in mind that your omnichannel strategy needs to be streamlined so your customers don’t feel they are getting a fragmented and inconsistent service.
This way, an omnichannel strategy has the added benefit of saving your team time by funneling these requests into the appropriate channel. This means you’re only dedicating the time to customers if their request requires it and they initiate it.
Choose a voice solution that integrates with your CRM
For many customers, a great voice call is the pinnacle of a personal and empathetic customer experience. But with an influx of customer tickets, it can be tricky to bring your preferred level of personalization to a call.
One solution lies in integrating your voice solution with a CRM.
Making sales reps’ lives easier, CRMs store customer contact information and data and give you a bird’s eye view of their interactions to date.
But when integrated with your voice solution, they update automatically and ensure that when a customer calls, you have everything you need to know at the click of a button.
Each CRM will bring with it different capabilities, so it’s another area where the solution you go for (and the tech stack you build) comes down to knowing the specific quality you want to scale.
Automate as many processes as possible
CRMs are a great example of why automation is so powerful to customer support teams. When thinking about how to scale customer support and not compromise quality, it’s essential to treat your support team’s time as golden.
Review your internal processes and ensure that they’re not spending hours searching for customer data or on manual data entry while a burgeoning queue of customer tickets goes untouched.
Building the right tech stack can prove vital in bringing automation more into your processes so your workforce remains not only productive but motivated and dedicated to delivering quality.
Take, for instance, AI and transcription integrations that make analyzing sales conversations easier, or eCommerce apps that centralize customer purchase history, meaning better quality data that can really turn the dial is easily within reach.
Refine the onboarding process
Onboarding can be a timely drawback for both new team members—and those tasked with training them. In fact, 28% of businesses say that onboarding and training get in the way of scaling.
Onboarding software takes the pain out of this by offering features that support development and learnings in-situ. Aircall, for instance, offers call recording, call whispering, and many other features that get reps up and running sooner rather than later.
To give this more direction though, what’s needed is robust quality assurance.
Having this in place will ensure your business remains on course to meet its level of customer experience and satisfaction. And when it comes to onboarding, it will ensure your team is working from the very latest insights.
In fact, 89% of businesses agree that quality assurance reviews help customer service teams onboard new agents.
While only 13% of companies under 50 employees cite onboarding as a challenge, this figure jumps to 43% for companies between 500 and 5,000 employees. Depending on the size and scale of your business, it’s worth thinking about whether you need small-scale initiatives such as a buddy system or product deck, or whether a more structured training program or a dedicated training team are needed.
Prioritize proactive support
Chatbots, contextual help content, knowledge bases, product tours, and more can all mean you’re proactively supporting your customers. This can be a great way to produce a quality customer experience.
70% of companies plan to invest more in proactive support in 2022, which speaks loudly about the value of surprising your customers.
Below, we explore some of the most effective proactive support methods:
1. Knowledge base
With 40% of companies citing repetitive requests as a challenge for their team, a knowledge base can prove invaluable in providing details—and even product tours—on everything you have to offer. Just bear in mind that your knowledge base should be easy to find, easy to navigate, and up to date.
2. Contextual help content
Contextual help content takes the form of helpful pop-ups and walkthroughs that act as an in-situ instruction manual. This gives customers some much-needed guidance with minimum fuss.
“Your help desk should provide you with a way to easily categorize all of your tickets from customers and report on that data—so use it to your advantage! Are 15% of your tickets questions about your sign-up process? If so, consider adding contextual help directly in the sign-up flow so that customers have the help they need before they get stuck,” she says.
Chatbots will issue prompts based on the content the customer is looking at. While they’re automatic, they can direct customers to relevant articles in your knowledge base or directly to customer support.
With a CRM in place, you can build your own workflows to tailor the customer lifecycle. This can implement vital touchpoints to ensure they never feel abandoned and continue their journey with your company.
Invest in self-service options
Providing the means for your customers to find the answers themselves can be another great way to ensure you scale your customer experience without sacrificing quality.
While it might seem the antithesis of good customer service, leaving your customers to it is an increasingly popular option with 45% of them more likely to use self-service than before the pandemic.
73% of customer service professionals agree that investing in self-service options reduces the workload for support teams. This means your team is in a better position to focus on the customers who need person-to-person support.
The aforementioned knowledge base can be a great resource for customers as well as a customer community.
First, these forums encourage customers to share answers. Second, they open the door to more imaginative workarounds your team might not have thought of.
Just be sure to have a good moderator to ensure productive advice is given and that, while it’s an option for customers to receive support, it’s not the only option.
Have a growing team and want to ensure you maintain a great customer experience? Find out how you can maintain quality while scaling customer support with Aircall, and download our Customer Service Quality Benchmark Report 2022 here.
Published on February 22, 2023.