As customer support evolves and businesses continue to grow, there’s one thing to keep in mind: the strategy you’re taking to scale your customer support team and customer experience. It’s an age-old concern—how do you scale customer service without sacrificing quality?
It can be difficult to scale experiences in a way that continuously meets customer expectations at the highest level, especially if you need to be doing it at a higher or faster rate than you were previously accustomed, but change is unpredictable when you’re at a growing company.
It doesn’t have to be!
When you have the right support in place and are willing to pivot strategies, you can work to offer a great CX along the way no matter the size of your organization.
In this blog we’ll help you form a better understanding of what it means to scale and offer up a few solutions that can help tackle these large-scale issues.
What Does It Mean To Scale A Support Team?
A lot goes into creating a strategy that can help scale successfully. The first challenge is in understanding what it means to scale a business and a support team as your customer base grows.
Scalability is all about moving up. It’s growing, expanding, optimizing, refining, reiterating, perfecting processes, increasing workflows, leveraging full bandwidth and doing so in a manner that helps your business go from a small entity to a large one. Scaling is influenced by resources, technology, and how good your team is at adjusting to change and growth. Often, some parts of a business will scale better than others, and that’s okay.
Customer support can be one of the more difficult business areas to scale. It’s one thing for a sales team to increase their closed deals and grow customer count, it’s another for your support team to maintain the current internal processes they have for current and new customers as that number increases.
Scaling successfully will mean maintaining high standards that meet or exceed customer expectations in a way that tactfully utilizes your teams’ skills and puts their abilities to use in a strategic way.
What Do You Need To Scale A Customer Support Team?
Scaling a growing team sounds great, but how do you get started? What does a support organization need in place in order to scale customer support well?
This can be broken down into three pieces: you need people, goals, and the right tools.
Are your leaders ready to lead the way into better CX and growth within customer support? Without the right mindset, goals can be forgotten and your desire to increase KPI benchmarks could be left to the wayside.
You need to have clear organization and business-wide goals. You should have a clear idea of what the immediate needs for customer support are and for your organization at large and be able to make sense of how your support team fits into it all.
A support team constantly needs to have the right tools at their disposal, whether it’s centralized knowledge or the right tech.With the appropriate tools you’ll be able to empower your team and your business as a whole.
How you combine your people and tools to achieve your goals will enable your strategy to take your team to the next level in how they offer customer service.
When to Scale Support?
Scaling support really means growing in a way that maintains a well-balanced customer experience and agent experience. When you scale you’re looking to implement new tools and strategies that are equally as valuable to everyone involved in the support journey.
As important as it is to know and understand how to scale a team that consistently provides a great CX, it’s equally as important to know when it’s time to scale and begin looking into new tools that can boost that for your team.
Implementing new tools and strategies is usually triggered by two things: being in crisis or being in growth.
Ideally, you want to be growing in support demand when you’re thinking of pivoting your CX strategy. Having support fluctuate overnight can also be a crisis trigger. If your team is seeing exponential growth in ticket volume without the ability to support it, you’re all suddenly in crisis while growing. Both good things that require appropriate attention to scale well.
Growing doesn’t just have to occur in support demand for your business to need to grow and scale your support org. Often, scaling support is done because other areas of the business are growing too.
Business growth in any area will eventually trickle down and increase support demand. Whether sales is closing more deals, marketing is bringing in new customers, product is launching new features, or support is increasing channel availability and support hours, demand will flow.
4 Ways To Successfully Scale Customer Support
As demand flows so does the need to find strategic ways to ebb that flow and create a plan that will positively impact your business as a whole. Let’s go over four ways businesses can successfully scale customer support.
Invest in Tools
We mentioned that there are three crucial aspects of a scaling strategy which include people, tools, and goals. You need to have the right people and tools in place that can help you reach your goals in order to scale successfully. There are many tools that can be used to help scale customer support such as different help desks and help desk integrations that can be useful in streamlining agent work to help increase agent efficiency and productivity.
The best available tool for support teams looking to scale and do more with less is AI and support automation. With the help of AI tools, support teams can automate the most repetitive and mundane tasks that customer support agents are tasked with daily. Gone will be the days of manual ticket labeling and routing when AI can triage incoming tickets more accurately and much faster than humanly possible.
AI-powered chatbots also come into play here and can be the first line of defense against customers seeking support. With a customer-facing chatbot, customer service teams are able to deflect incoming customer questions before they become tickets, respond to common questions, increase self-serve rates, collect customer feedback, decrease response times, and provide insight into what customers are asking, where more information is needed, where there are opportunities for growth. When you have a data collecting tool at the ready helping you uncover insights by analyzing large amounts of data, you can find gaps that need to be filled and do more for your customers.
Help Customers Help Themselves
Did you know that 8/10 people prefer to consult self-service methods before trying to reach someone for support?
If you’re hoping to scale support in a way that benefits the growth of your business, increases customer satisfaction, and supports customer support staff, you’ll need to invest in improving your self service methods. This means working to improve your knowledge base and implementing a tool that helps leverage that knowledge to its fullest. The great thing is that you can do this with or without new technology and still improve the process.
Help customers help themselves by working on expanding your knowledge base and making it as robust as possible. The best knowledge base is a self-serve customer service library that contains any and all information about a product, service, or topic. Growing your knowledge to support customer self-service to help resolve customer issues means writing better knowledge articles, building on currency articles, collecting all available information for knowledge base articles, and organizing information in a way that helps customers find it.
Customers should be able to retrieve any appropriate data or information for their query without a hiccup, whether through self-serve chatbots or a general knowledge base search. Your internal knowledge wiki should also be optimized for use and present all information in a clear, concise manner.
Improve Agent Enablement
If you want to scale support then you need to care about the people leading that support: your agents. You can empower your agents by enabling them to take the charge in improving your support processes. The tribal knowledge of a support team who knows the ins and outs of your business, product, or service is invaluable and when you lose agents you also lose pieces of that tribal knowledge.
Scaling a support team means empowering your people with the right tools they need to feel enabled to do their jobs the best way possible. Teams can do this by implementing tools that help automate tasks and improve efficiencies which ultimately help reps meet current customer demand without sacrificing the quality of their support.
With the help of tools such as customer support AI, you can help your support teams access information quickly in order to assist customers with more complex customer inquiries that can’t be answered easily. AI for customer support can help improve agent lives because it provides them with an AI assistant that allows them to view answers from similar past tickets to help answer new ones, and enables them to leverage company knowledge successfully.
As your business grows so does your support demand. If your reps are answering the same questions over and over again, and aren’t able to get to the more complicated ones on their own, then there has to be a way to deflect the repetitive questions. And that’s what customer support AI can do. With the right tools at your disposal your agents can increase deflection rates, decrease time to resolution for tickets, and rid themselves of bottlenecks caused by increased support demand.
Understand Customer Expectations
Customer expectations change constantly. You’ll find reports about it every single year and it’s important you stay on top of what’s going on in order to successfully serve your own customers.
Did you know that it is 6-7 times more expensive to attract new customers than it is to retain them? The best way to ensure customer loyalty is to keep delighting your customers and working to amaze them through your CX.
Here’s what customers care about the most these days:
- Speed. 64% of customers and 80% of business buyers say they expect companies to respond to and interact with them in real-time when they’re searching for responses. There is always room for improvement in the customer journey but what customers want most is fast answers when they need them.
- Personalization. No one likes hopping around in support. If you’re having to speak to multiple representatives who each want you to restate your issue, there’s no personalization or even sense of urgency to help you when you have to repeat yourself multiple times. Lucky for support teams, there’s a way to create an omnichannel support approach that passes along the customer’s information from start to finish and makes them feel like you personally care about their issue.
- Accuracy. There is nothing worse than needing an answer and being given the wrong information or not being able to actually find it. With the speed at which companies update their documents, it can be common for knowledge articles or workflows to not be updated and cause issues for customers seeking the info that’s been changed. Customers expect accurate information when they need it. Your customer support organization should consistently work to keep knowledge updated.
Scaling Your Customer Support With Forethought
As daunting it is to scale customer support while maintaining a great customer experience, it’s not impossible. With the right tools at your fingertips, you can succeed in meeting customer expectations at a consistently high level all while enabling your agents to do more and do it well.
Forethought can be one of the many tools used to improve your CX offering and improve your agent experience. Forethought’s customer service software platform takes customers through the entire support process, even helping prevent support needs from turning into tickets by offering robust self-service options. AI can help solve customer needs, triage incoming tickets, assist agents in responding to queries in an accurate and timely manner, and can help discover actionable insights by helping teams find gaps in their CX.
Customer support AI is one of the best tools you can deploy for your support team since it not only helps customers with their self-service journey but it also makes it easier for agents to respond to tickets with accurate information.
Frequently Asked Questions About Scaling Customer Support
How Do You Grow a Customer Support Team?
Growing a customer support team is a nuanced process that involves input from agents, team leads, and executives to decide the best strategy and approach to grow a team that can efficiently and effectively scale alongside the rest of a growing business. The tactics for growth are endless but the best strategy will always be to try doing more with less and support orgs can do that with the help of customer support AI.
AI can help teams scale by allowing them to be more efficient and handle more customer ticket volume than ever before. With automation, the thousands of tickets support teams must get through each week is not a problem at all.
How Do You Scale Customer Success?
Scaling customer success is a team effort that should ultimately increase the impact of customer engagement and turn customer success and support into a revenue driver. In order to scale customer success you must create a customer-first culture where everyone is always thinking about how to put the customer first, meet them where they are, improve processes for them, and retain them. Scaling customer success means making it more effective and efficient, this can be done with the help of AI tools designed to improve how you manage customer service interactions with your customers.