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Thanks to the internet, companies have the potential to sell to anyone, anywhere. They can also market their products and services through digital channels to prospects around the world. It only makes sense that the customer experience they offer includes global support teams as well.
Unlike sharing digital advertising across continents or conducting international e-commerce transactions, support operations can take more time to set up and run effectively.
Even when organizations use chatbots and other self-service tools, there’s often a need for well-trained service and support agents to assist with challenging issues. As your company grows and enters new markets, prepare to offer:
Quick responses no matter when customers need to reach out
Omnichannel support that recognizes customers’ preferred channels
Engagements that respect differences in local cultures
First-contact resolutions that are short, friendly, and effective
Benefits of Global Support Teams
The quality of a brand’s customer support directly links to trust. If customers are worried they’ll be left on their own when they have questions or challenges with a product or service, why should they go through with a purchase?
According to a PwC study, 38% of consumers said providing exceptional customer service impacts which brands they regularly buy from.
It’s one thing to aim for exceptional service when you’re running a single contact center with a small team of agents. To do so on a global scale requires being strategic about how you allocate resources, the technologies that enhance support processes, and the way you train and manage agents.
No wonder Gartner found 64% of customer support leaders are focused on business growth. While service and support might have once been considered a cost center, organizations are recognizing that going global is a great way to position themselves to:
Reduce customer churn by providing a consistent, reliable support experience
Boost referrals and advocacy by improving customer satisfaction and NPS
Increase revenue by building upon customer trust with additional offers and upgrades
Ultimately, if organizations invest in their global support team, it can lead to higher customer satisfaction and—as a result—higher profits.
3 Tips for Managing Global Support Teams
Many companies establish global customer service operations by starting with a single regional team that’s managed locally with input and direction from the company headquarters. As you develop and codify best practices, you can replicate regional teams in all the markets your brand exists or plans to expand.
Here are three of the top priorities that should be on your to-do list:
1. Invest in the right business tools
The primary equipment for customer support agents was once limited to a cubicle, a desk phone, and some product documentation. Serving customers around the world requires rethinking IT foundations and the specific tools agents use every day.
Research from Deloitte Digital found that while 32% of contact centers are using cloud computing today, 75% expect to make the move over the next two years. Unlike the constraints of on-premise software and infrastructure, the cloud offers organizations great flexibility to handle a variety of workloads, particularly in highly distributed environments.
Moving to the cloud also sets the stage for customer support leaders to explore a variety of other technologies that could empower employees in regional settings, including AI, CRM workflow optimization, and robotic process automation.
This is becoming even easier to do now that app marketplaces offer a streamlined way for customer support leaders to see what’s most appropriate for their global teams.
2. Prioritize communication and collaboration
Let’s say an agent who’s based in France discovers a new way to solve a common customer challenge. Their insight could benefit the entire company. But that only works if they’re able to easily share it with the rest of the global team.
In another scenario, an agent who runs into a new issue can benefit from asking their peers for advice or brainstorming a solution.
Communication and collaboration ensure support policy changes are understood and applied across all regions.
Here are a few ways to implement stronger communication and collaboration:
Train teams on how to use messaging apps and other communication tools that make it easier to collaborate
Leverage cloud calling software to conduct regular check-ins with regional managers and get ahead of common questions or challenges
Establish a common set of dashboards and data repositories. This will help regional teams find the answers they need when time zones make it difficult to connect in real-time
The best communication and collaboration require ongoing attention from leaders and input from employees. Just as you might have a customer feedback tool, make sure you have one for employee feedback too.
3. Create detailed process documentation
Call it a knowledge base, a resource center, or an agent portal. Set your teams up for success by arming them with relevant, contextual information so they can deliver positive customer experiences.
This process documentation is never a once-and-done effort. It will evolve based on what your team learns through ongoing customer engagements.
In fact, Accenture found that 41% of CEOs believe one of their key challenges is an inability to respond quickly to changing market conditions and customer habits.
This is why it’s critical to base your process documentation on data that are captured, analyzed, and updated in real-time. Processes should also be subject to regular evaluation using metrics like:
The speed at which agents can act
The ability to use the process consistently across regions
The ability to adapt processes based on new customer insights
Never feel like you have to figure all of this out on your own. Read on to review our comprehensive guidance on building the right framework for customer support.