2 Getting started Your product is only as good as the service you back it with. In today s hyperconnected world, your product is only as good as the service you back it with. It s easy for small companies to think of customer service as just a checkbox item, but to be competitive and offer a seamless experience as you grow, you need to look ahead. Planning how to evolve your customer service in advance is becoming as critical to your business as setting your product roadmap. Here are six things you need to consider as you build your company s service roadmap so that you set yourself up to offer amazing service, no matter how fast you grow.
3 What channels do you plan to support? Find a customer service solution that can grow to support phone and chat. Have a plan for training agents to learn the skills needed for each channel you will support. Optimize your knowledge base from the start with content for each channel. Most small businesses start out by supporting customers exclusively with , and maybe Twitter, but over time as their company and customer base grows, they may need realtime support via phone or live chat to keep up with requests. Making the transition is a big step. Not only do you need the tools like a dedicated customer service solution to support this effort, you may also need a different type of agent. Phone agents need a good phone presence. Chat agents need to be able to multitask as they typically work more than one case at a time. For different types of agents you need different training materials. And you need a different version of your knowledge base for agents to pull answers from (the answers typically used on will be too long for chat).
4 Will you tier support as you grow? Decide in advance how you would tier support if you need to have dedicated support times. Decide whether future escalation rules will be based on customer type, geography, or problem severity before you architect your systems. Set up your filters so that you can quickly reroute them if you add another tier. Make time each month to refactor routing and escalation rules as you go. Small businesses typically start out with one or two customer service agents that answer all of their inquiries, but as you grow you will need to create dedicated teams for different types of requests. This is especially important for complex products and technology. Most businesses will have a first response tier that will figure out what the problem is and route customers to the right agents. As a company gets even bigger, there might be a third layer of engineering experts who handle the really gnarly calls. Deciding in advance how you will tier your support team will enable you to put the right systems and people in place to divide and conquer support requests without disruption.
5 Are you planning to expand geographically? Get a customer service solution with multilingual support, even if you don t need it yet. Put a process in place for quickly localizing knowledge base updates and new articles. Hire support reps that are fluent in the culture as well as the language. Plan for 24 hour case triaging, even if it s a combination of real people and case routing. If you start to support customers in different time zones, you may need to expand the hours that you offer support or look to hire local support agents in those regions. And, you may need to rethink how you route cases to let agents just starting their days easily pick up cases from agents that are ending theirs. Language is another consideration. Not only do you need a support solution that is multilingual, but you need to be sure that your knowledge articles are translated into multiple languages and that you have a plan for curation and maintenance so that agents and customers can get up-to-date answers in every language.
6 Do you plan to outsource some of your service? Build support training materials that will work for internal and external audiences. Configure workflows for routing cases both to and from third party agents. Include SLA enforcement and KPI reporting when you make an outsourcing plan. It s typical for growing companies to outsource some of their support operations (usually the tier one front lines) to a third party, especially if they expand across the globe or start offering SLAs that require a rapid response. This isn t something that can happen overnight. You need to look at the best ways to share information, route cases, and seamlessly pass cases back and forth. Training is also important. It can take longer than you ever thought possible to work with an outsourced call center to make them sound smart and represent your brand correctly, but to offer customers a quality experience you need to invest the time.
7 What systems do you need to integrate with? Get a customer service solution that easily integrates with your important systems. Make sure it s extensible to homegrown integrations and new, unsupported ones. Make sure the integrations work consistently across every platform and device. When you put a customer service solution in place you need to consider what the most important systems powering your business are, and if and how you will need to integrate with them for support. There are typically two ways to integrate systems. The first is via data, so that you can visualize one system within another, for example making it easy for your agents to view shipping data in your support solution so that they can quickly and accurately respond to delivery questions. The second kind of integration is when an action in one system triggers an action in another. For example, if an agent identifies a bug in a product, it can be automatically logged in Jira so that it can be fixed quickly and everyone stays in sync.
8 Are you prepared for rapid growth? Make sure your customer service solution supports the customization you might need. Look at your best case scenario and make sure you can support the case volumes and API transactions that would be required. Plan what business metrics you need to measure in the future and make sure you can support them. Every small business would like to grow as fast as Lyft or Fitbit, but rapid growth can be a downer if you re caught off guard. In addition to the things already mentioned including global expansion and what systems you need to integrate with you should also think about whether you will be supporting multiple brands and products over time and whether your customer support solution can scale as you grow. Can you accommodate call centers around the globe? Can you customize it as your needs change? Can you integrate with complex back office and ERP systems if needed?
9 Rapid growth is every small business s dream. To make sure your company easily scales, be sure to make a plan for every aspect of your business, not just new features. With a customer service roadmap you can be sure that the service you back your products with will be as good as the products themselves. With the right advanced planning, it will be a reason to celebrate. Try Desk.com today for free and see for yourself how fast, awesome customer service can help your business grow faster than ever. FREE TRIAL Follow Desk.com and stay up-to-date on customer service solutions for fast-growing companies.
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