How to scale your customer support from Day 1
If you’re lucky enough to run a start up that takes off you’ll soon be inundated with customer contacts. The volume overnight could become difficult to damage to manage if you don’t have a plan in place.
Below are our top tips for getting customer support right from day 1.
- Automate where possible — sign up the bots
There are lots of great tools out there for automating replies to customer queries. A lot of questions from day 1 will be familiar and expected. If you haven’t answered them during customer / user on-boarding then you should build out a bot that can learn over time and answer many of the most common questions.
2. Embrace low cost channels
Phone is more expensive than email and email is more expensive than messaging. The economics are clear. An agent can handle up to 3 chats at once but will struggle with managing 3 calls simultaneously. In the early days money will be tight and you need to keep an eye on cost to serve. Make sure you start with channels that are relatively low cost to operate. Remember that as you scale you will need to revisit this.
Most customers get that a newly launched businesses can’t afford massive call centres, but once you gain the unicorn tag that patience and understanding falls away.
Get a plan in place to ensure you’re not relying on a basic self-serve help centre as your only source of support.
3. Embrace social but not in the way you think
Yes harnessing Twitter and Facebook is great, but as you scale you could find yourself needing to employ dozens of agents to engage with customers and escalate to relevant support teams. The best way to approach social is to build out your own customer community who can answer common questions on your behalf. Yes, I’m talking about forums. Very 1990’s but they still pack a punch in delivering customer centric, fast and effective support.
You will still need to build out a moderator program but again this can come from super users in your customer community.
For some businesses the product and service might be complex. If this is the case do your best to triage simple questions to your community forum and complex questions to a dedicated team.
If you want to provide customer support via Twitter and Facebook then be prepared to solve in channel and where possible meet strict SLAs. Customer expectations in social are extremely high and taking days to reply to urgent queries in social channels just won’t cut it. Be mindful that if you run a service that is 24/7 you’ll need to consider how you manage social support. Customers aren’t very forgiving of companies that operate services 24/7 7 days a week only to offer support M-F 9–5.
Of course you could always decide not to support via social. It’s not unheard of for brands to limit their support channels as they scale to ensure they focus their effort and investment where it can have the biggest impact.
4. Educate users front, get out ahead of the funnel
On-board customers properly and make it clear how they can use and engage with your product and service. Build out education and support explainers into your product flow. Remind customers how best to get support — it’s about nudging them in the right direction.
As you watch customers engage with your product and service you’ll learn more about their pain points and frustrations. Use this information to eradicate some of the inbound contact volume you’re receiving. Don’t find yourself answering the same questions 12 months from now.
5. Kill repeatable questions
New customers will ask questions that you’ve already answered elsewhere. Catalogue all the questions and ensure they are eventually killed off. Some questions will always exist but you should use this data to build improvements into your product and service. Your FAQs should be updated regularly and learn from what customers are asking.
6. Consider outsourcing but be careful how you design it
There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing your support providing you design it carefully and deliberately. There are some great companies out there who might be better placed to offer support. The best approach is to have a mix of in-house and outsourced support. In the early days the in-house model really helps you learn from customer behaviour, questions and pain points. As you scale the outsource model gives you a more efficient cost base for handling inbound volume.
Decide carefully what support stays in-house and what you outsource. You might find that high value customers or those with complex needs are not best served by an outsourced, low cost model. Most clients I work with have a mix in order to drive efficiencies in both operations and costs.
Support services are often overlooked when start ups launch. Getting it right can mean the difference between success and failure. Remember it can be up to 25 times more costly to acquire a new customers than simply to keep an existing one.
At Strategy Activist we help clients design customer support strategies that are effective at every stage of business growth. To learn more visit us at www.strategyactivist.com or call us on +44 7786063053.