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Expert Panel: Scale (Don’t Fail!) Your Customer Support

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Your business is thriving and your product is in demand. At the same time, you notice the number of customers reaching out for help has gotten to a point where your support process just isn’t cutting it. Now what? Do you know how to scale your customer support experience?

Get some insider tips from an expert panel convened for Desk.com’s “Building the Customer WOW Machine” event held in Portland back in July. Check out the discussion in the video below for some surefire ways to beef up support while demand steams ahead.

Empower Your Organization

One piece of advice our panel unanimously agrees will help you flex up is education. Educating your entire company from Day One about your product, problems and solutions is especially key for customer-facing employees. And, if everyone in your company is trained, as Jimmy Douglas, director of Customer Experience at Smarsh says, “At that point, the team is the size of your whole company.”

Rachel Giuliani, who heads up community engagement for Simple, says having a culture of support and committing to a level of service that your company will deliver to customers is key for companies just starting out. Giuliani says Simple has grown their team with a very disciplined approach to empower agents to make decisions on their own, instead of relying on escalation chains and scripts.

“They don’t just know what the answer is, they know why it’s the answer and how to find out if they don’t know the answer.”

Adjust Your Processes

See if there are ways to make small changes to your current process that eliminate steps, save time, and ultimately, save money. Graham Murphy, of Desk.com’s Customer WOW team, suggests that a focus on process allows you operate more efficiently, enhance the customer experience, and make more informed scaling decisions: “Automating a single step in a support request lifecycle—while potentially only saving seconds per case—can save hours in a given week. This is a win not only for the customers that experience a quicker turnaround, but also for your budget when it comes to making hiring decisions.”

Determine If It’s Time to Hire

There are some specific things to look for to determine how, when and who to add to your support team. First up, can you anticipate when you’ll need to bulk up your efforts?

“Know how many customers you have and know what your scale is,” says Mark Hanley from Urban Airship. Hanley also looks to data from CRM tools to forecast when to add bodies to the customer service team. Determine the average number of cases your current team can handle and compare that to the growth of your customer base.

Balance Personality and Performance

Our panel also has advice on how to hire when it’s time to add people to your team. They say personality is part of the game but you also want to know the potential team member is up to managing a standard caseload. How do you do that? First figure out the average number of cases your team handles in an hour then benchmark based on that number. It’s better to find new agents that can manage the average and have room to grow. “Measure against the core group of players that can handle a good caseload, treat your customers right, and interact with the company well.” advises Hanley.

Have you felt the growing pains associated with growing a support system along with your business? What are the tips you used to smooth out the bumps.

Photo courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aarongoselin/



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Sukhjit Ghag

Sukhjit Ghag

Sukhjit is the go-to person for social media, video and events at Desk.com and is one of the newer member of the team (April 2012). As part of her job, she buys a lot of pizza and is the keeper of thepizzafund.com...

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