When you’re starting a business, one of the first things you need to mull over during the strategic planning stage is how to scale as demand increases for your services. Failing to do this means that you’ll be reactive rather than proactive, which could wind up scaring off potential customers, upsetting existing clients, and dealing your company a sizeable bottom line blow.
One way you can scale customer service as your company grows is to use virtual support solutions. By going this route, you can tap into a skilled workforce quickly and easily to ensure that your clients get the service they expect without the delay. If you’re ready to scale customer service as your company grows, here’s a look at some practical steps you can take.
At the Beginning
Perhaps you’re planning to bootstrap your company and to be a jack of all trades. That might work out at first, but once your employee count gets into the double digits it will be time to be more intentional and strategic about your customer service. This means either assigning someone already on board to be your company’s dedicated customer service professional or hiring someone else to take on this role.
Your customer service professional can scale customer services in the early stages of your company’s growth by doing the following:
Direct customer feedback to a single channel: With an official channel for all feedback, it will be easier for your company to meet the needs of customers without anything falling through the cracks.
Create a process: It’s important that you create a process that helps your company to track customer queries by focusing on volume, revenue matters, and request quality. In order to streamline the process, maximize productivity, and facilitate timely responses to customer feedback, you should consider developing a handful of email templates that focus on frequently asked questions.
Write customer support articles: Posting helpful content that covers customer inquiries that come up will help serve multiple purposes. One of the benefits of going this route is that it will facilitate the buying process as customers get answers to queries that, if left unanswered, might get in the way of their completing sales transactions.
Middle Stage Growth
You will need to pursue further scaling once your company hits the middle stage growth period, generally around 100 employees. This can be facilitated with virtual solutions. While you might have had one employee dedicated to customer service, you’ll now need at least a few more workers for your company’s customer service department. If you want an easy way to scale your customer service without having to hire a new employee, you can also turn to virtual assistants.
During the middle stage growth period, you can scale your company’s customer service by:
Measure intentionally: You’ll want to measure with purpose, so add metrics like response and resolution time frames to your reporting. You’ll also want to begin ascertaining client success by keeping track of things like new clients and proper set-up.
Begin a knowledge base: Once your client count has reached about a thousand, you’ll have access to enough data information to determine the most prevalent issues. Assign an employee to create a data knowledge base and to purposefully provide client education support.
Choose channels carefully: As your company grows, it will become less convenient to have a shared inbox that multiple people use for work-related communication. Add different channels, like email accounts, phone numbers, and messenger chat, specific to different departments and workers.
Final Growth Stage
Once your company has grown to 200+ employees, you will have reached what is referred to as the growth stage. This will be a stage at which you’ve figured out the right product and market fit. During this critical stage of your company’s growth trajectory, you will be aiming for a three-to-one return as per customer acquisition and retention. If you report to stakeholders, you should focus specifically on customer lifetime value.
Here are some specific things to be mindful of during this stage of growth:
Keep on top of churn rate courtesy of a revenue number: This is where the proverbial rubber hits the road since it will force you to measure how much value your customer service leader is providing to your company’s bottom line. You can do this by tracking the churn rate using a revenue number, which will inform you and your stakeholders about the value the customer service head brings to the table.
Transform metrics into models: Metrics are great, but what you do with them can bring added value to your organization. Hire someone who’s skilled at critically analyzing data and turning it into meaningful models that can inform strategic business decisions.
Jonathon Ohayon is the COO of Brilliance.com and has been managing companies and motivating people since the 6th grade. As a proven business leader and gemologist, he is uniquely skilled in navigating the ever changing e-commerce landscape. When he is not answering emails into the wee hours of the night, he can be found spending time with his wife and three children. Connect with him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @jonathonohayon