Satisfying as many customers as possible is the only surefire way to scale your business upwards in a sustainable fashion, yet many entrepreneurs and corporate professionals struggle when it comes to bolstering their customer support operations. This is because customer support is no easy thing to conquer, and many entrepreneurs seem to hope that if they throw enough money at the problem, a solution will present itself.
In reality, you need more than money to scale your customer support operations – you need dedicated workers to help you achieve your goals and a game plan to steer you from the start. Here's how you should be scaling your customer support operations and how you can do it without breaking the bank.
Spend in the right areas
It goes without saying that you'll have to spend some money to scale your customer support operations; anybody who claims that you can manage more customers than ever before while spending little to no money is likely lying to you as they attempt to peddle a product. It's true that you can lower your overall customer support budget while still achieving better results than ever before, but only if you spend properly in the crucial areas while reducing what you spend in less important areas. Hiring new, capable employees, for instance, is something that you should focus on if you want to get more bang for your buck.
Always be aware that some software is far superior to others; if you invest improperly, for instance, you could actually be shackling your business with burdensome equipment when you could otherwise be supercharging it for the future. Business owners who aren't particularly tech-savvy themselves shouldn't be afraid to admit when they're in over their heads as it pertains to acquiring fancy new software, hardware, or other digital assets.
Everybody's talking about digitization these days; it seems like it's impossible to earn a profit in any sector unless you're spending huge sums of money on new software and hardware. While technology is crucially important for your business' success, however, it's also indisputably true that clever, tech-savvy employees are needed to actually leverage the fancy new tools you've acquired for them. Knowing when it's time to hire some help is a sign that you're a good manager, so think twice if you've looked at your current customer support operations and said, "we have enough workers to achieve our goals."
Watch out for bad seeds
There are few things more detrimental to the successful scaling of your customer support operations than an inability to root out bad seeds when acquiring new employees. Just a few shoddy workers are all it takes to dismantle your entire network, as lackluster humans are often the first and major cause of an IT system's breakdown. Know when and where to draw the line when hiring, and don't be afraid to search far and wide for stellar workers who will cost a little extra. They will make up the difference in their invaluable expertise and experience.
Don't hesitate to spend more money if it means bringing on an excellent employee who has valuable experience in managing angry customers. This is particularly true if the average customer support question you're dealing with is a high stakes situation; some companies receive huge amounts of calls that are of middling importance, on average, whereas others receive only a few calls that are nevertheless imperative for the overall profitability of the business. The more important those calling you for help are, the more crucial it is that you have a human trained and ready to pick up the phone when they come ringing for help.
Hiring those who are capable of playing well with others is also crucial for your success. Meanspirited employees won't just frustrate customers and damage your brand, they'll also diminish office morale and make other employees miserable, further damaging your bottom line. Know the traits of a good team player before bringing somebody new on board, and you're much more likely to make the right choice for the right reasons.
Automation can still help
Despite the fact that your focus should be on human capital, it's important to understand that automation can still help. The digitization of the workplace has made it possible for fewer workers to cover a wider base of customers but try to resist the temptation that arises when companies tell you that you can halve your workforce while still meeting the needs of your customers. Regardless of how effective some digital technology is, automation still can't replace human ingenuity, and customers everywhere want to deal with a mix of both humans and robots when it comes to their problems.
McKinsey has demonstrated that digital customer care, or eCare, strategies can drastically cut down on the costs of doing business, but don't focus too much on this area unless you're confident that it won't dehumanize your operations to invest additional money in digitizing the workplace. This is because no software program can replace the experience of talking to another human when something goes wrong, and all it takes is one angry customer for your expensive IT investment to backfire. The best bet is to mix eCare strategies with traditional customer appeasement strategies that still make good use of human workers.
Be careful not to overextend yourself
Pumping the breaks on digitization outside of crucial areas also helps you avoid the mistake of scaling too quickly. Some businesses need to expand, but if you try to conquer too much territory at once you'll never be able to consolidate the holdings in your possession. Focus on slow but steady change, like maintaining a blog, that targets crucial areas, and your customer support operations will be doing better in no time.
You may think having more employees manning the phones is an absolute good, but the truth of the matter is too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the entire meal. Businesses that want to bolster profit margins may think it's necessary to expand rapidly to maintain their surging cash flow, but if you get too big for your britches you'll inevitably crash inwards and sacrifice the progress you've made thus far.
One way you can avoid overextending yourself is to focus not on recruiting additional workers, but on retraining your current workforce to optimize its ability to solve customer problems. Fewer, better workers with greater access to more advanced technology will achieve far more than plentiful, shoddy workers with little to no information at their disposal.
Providing more information to your workers is the real secret to success. By equipping your customer service representatives with a wide-reaching arsenal of digital tools that enable them to summon more information in less time, you'll be helping customers achieve their desired results while keeping your current workforce happy and prepared for the future. You should thus view automation, recruiting new employees, training existing workers, and onboarding new software under the same lens of bolstering the overall information environment your company operates in.
Scaling your customer support operations will take time, but done properly it will pay for itself sooner rather than later. Keep these tips in mind, and soon your newly-digitized customer support services will be producing better results than ever before.