Whether you’re a startup, scale-up, or an established business, you need to consider scaling customer support (CS).
Providing great customer service is fundamental to your overall customer experience (CX) as it boosts customer satisfaction (CSAT) and loyalty while helping your business grow. As per Bain’s research, even a 5% increase in customer retention can raise your profitability by 75%.
So it’s worth thinking about how to scale your customer support team — even if you’re adequately staffed.
Why you should think about scaling customer support
For one thing, your business is likely growing. So methodically preparing and planning growth is much better than scrambling to get the right people in at the last minute. Secondly, whatever your business’s development stage, you can’t afford to lose customers due to inadequate or poor service.
In Zendesk’s 2022 CX survey, at least 61% of customers said they would switch to a competitor brand after a single bad service experience.
Given the maths on churn and decreasing profits, that’s a lot of unnecessary loss — and it’s so much worse if you’re at the growth stage. So delivering good service has to be a business strategy priority, as does your product development and supply-chain logistics.
But when should you start thinking about scaling your customer support team?
Quantity vs quality
While people often view these two values in conflict, in customer service they’re entwined.
Being poorly staffed negatively impacts the quality of your support.
Understaffed agents are under pressure to handle high call volumes while being expected to deliver high-quality service. But such expectations are unrealistic and doomed to fail.
Even as your high-quality agents try to do their best, it can lead to burnout and high attrition rates, both of which are costly for your business.
McKinsey estimates attrition costs American companies as much as $10,000 to $20,000 per support agent.
Worse, this results in a slower response time for customers, something for which today’s buyers have little patience. And according to HubSpot research, 33% of all customers find wait times their biggest service frustration.
With longer holds, rushed service, and a poor support experience, you’re likely creating more dissatisfied customers than satisfied ones and increasing the risk of churn.
To improve overall satisfaction and retention rates you must resolve customer issues quickly and efficiently. Because according to Forrester, at least 73% of your consumers feel the most important thing customer service can do is respect their time.
To keep your customers and workforce happy, have the right number of high-quality customer service agents on the team.
Scaling customer support for startups
At the startup stage, your biggest priority is whether your product fits the market, and how to grow your business. Providing full-time, dedicated customer support may be a distant goal, but your overall service strategy is worth considering.
Remember: customers are the make or break point for your product right now. So their feedback, concerns, questions and complaints matter a great deal.
Here are some tips on how to scale your customer support team as a startup.
Focus on business without forgetting about your customer
Consider having at least one dedicated support person on your team, even if it isn’t a full-time position. It’s a great way to listen to your customers’ voices and steer your growth direction by shaping your business to answer existing customer needs.
Customer feedback is vital to your business as a valuable market information source on how to develop your product.
Work as a team
Whether you have a full-time support person at this stage or not, get everyone in your startup to read customer support emails. This way, you’ll get a 360° perspective across the team on existing product or service issues.
If your team works remotely, ensure everyone collaborates to understand and share customer feedback well. It’s crucial to your growth model, and every employee in your organisation should be aware of that.
Collectively analyse customer feedback, complaints, and queries, and use real-world data to improve and expand your product offering.
Schedule regular team sessions where everyone reviews common customer issues to brainstorm solutions together. After all, two heads are better than one for solving most problems — and the more perspectives you can get, the better. Out-of-the-box solutions and inspired ideas tend to come out of group brainstorming sessions.
Regular discussions also help you identify and put forth essential integrations or fixes you need in your product development.
Bring your team together to tackle support requests and answer common customer questions. It’ll give every team member a hands-on understanding of where your product stands — and how it can grow.
Scaling customer service at this stage has to be efficient and hassle-free. Maybe all you have at this point is a dedicated support email address for customers to write in. But ensure you assign time to each member of your team for answering customer emails.
Your focus is on growing your business. By enabling systematic workflows within your team, you’ll create a planned and meaningful approach to customer interaction, supporting your growth model.
Don’t let your customer support operation function only in a reactionary manner. Instead, think about customer success as the higher-order need of your customer service deliverables.
One way to do this is by inspiring your team to act proactively towards customer retention. Encourage customer-focused service ideas, and empower people to show agency in executing them.
Scaling customer support for scaleups
At the scaleup stage, your customer base is growing fast with increasing support demands. Now is the time to lay down a solid foundation for your service operation, activities, and goals.
Begin with recruiting a full-time support team and set up your working customer service system. Getting things in order is essential at this stage to avoid wasting time, money and resources overcoming service hurdles while dealing with the pressure of nurturing your business in a healthy growth stage.
Now is when scaling customer support begins in real time for you. Here are some of the processes you can implement into your service strategy:
Source/hire specialised agents
In a growth stage, you can no longer take an all-hands-on-deck approach to customer service. You need dedicated people on the frontline so you can focus on your strategy and development goals.
The growth stage is the right time to hire qualified customer service agents and build a dedicated support team for your business. Define your service goals and set some key metrics to keep the operation running smoothly.
With a specialist team on board, you can also implement personalisation and service training for your agents so that all customer interactions correctly reflect your brand values.
It allows you to serve customers with a personal touch that’s unique to your business. And you can now provide a great service experience aligned with your customer-facing goals.
Dedicated customer support manager(s)
As with any dedicated team, you’ll need capable managers to lead them.
Customer support managers assign customer queries to agents and monitor their resolutions. They’ll also keep track of individual workloads between agents, outline team goals, and optimise the quality of service your support team delivers. A good manager will unite your entire team to function as a single, synchronised service unit.
As your customer base grows, you’ll discover many common customer issues you can resolve without the help of a human agent.
Simple or routine issues can be handled by intelligent automation and chatbots far more efficiently. For example, AI-powered bots are great for fulfilling simple requests for password resets, billing issues, or refunds. On the other hand, human support is resource-intensive, and you can selectively deploy it for more complex customer questions.
Many routine queries can also be auto-resolved through self-service options like easy-to-read pop-ups for common questions. Self-service reduces resolution time while saving your service reps’ energy and expertise for more complicated customer cases.
Offer your online customer a digital help desk that’s easy to access and navigate. Modern customers prefer DIY solutions and actively look for self-service options to resolve an issue before calling support. As a result, a detailed knowledge base is a quick and efficient service solution that saves agent time and resources.
Answer routine customer questions with resourceful FAQs, quick-fix templates, troubleshooting tips, video tutorials, and other digital resources. Helping customers help themselves is a great way to take some of the heat off your customer service team.
In growth mode, it’s also important to analyse your complete customer service roadmap.
Study the data on how your team handles requests, the bottlenecks, and what kind of monitoring you have in place for responses. You can also review all the customer information fields available to service agents, and check if they can be expanded or optimised to help your team serve customers better.
Trust your team and give them the freedom to do their jobs independently. Every agent should feel empowered and confident to make critical decisions on the spot when handling sensitive or time-dependent customer issues.
Train your agents in the firefighting procedures they’ll need to resolve problems, provide easy-to-access knowledge resources, and then let them make the best call when managing live customer complaints.
Unnecessary escalations, over-tracking, and micromanagement are your worst enemies. They demotivate and impede your team effort and increase customer dissatisfaction by increasing wait times, escalations, and transfers.
Customer relationship management
Customer relationship management (CRM) consists of the tools, procedures, and plans your business employs to manage customer interactions.
CRM software allows your service team to access all existing customer data in one place. Furthermore, it can integrate several communication channels on one platform, such as live chat, email, messaging, phone calls, social media, and web content. Doing so helps your business keep a consistent record of customer queries, purchases, and engagement.
Maintaining customer history is helpful for quality analysis and generating further leads and sales.
Scaling customer support for established businesses
By now, you’ve figured out what works for your business and are noticing changes. But with increasing new customers, a higher volume of support requests is pouring in. So even if you’re outsourcing your support to a call centre, you need to start defining customer success as a major growth driver for your business.
Draw up an all-encompassing service strategy that pushes your support effort’s capacity and efficiency to the next level. Doing this can help expand your market share and boost profit.
Develop focused strategies to test your customer service maths and see how it scales, keeping customer success as your objective.
Here are some tips on how to scale your customer support team as an established business.
Introduce a tier system
As we know, a triangle is the most stable of all shapes — because its solid foundation helps it provide tremendous support to the top.
Implementing a tier system works great for your customer service department by organising support into skills-based tiers that resolve customer issues efficiently.
In such a system, general service reps are your main support base, whilst skilled support staff cover more skills-intensive customer cases. Quality analysts (QA) above them can track support calibre, team leads can head individual service teams, and operations managers can ensure everyone meets their goals.
Implement skills-based routing
Skills-based routing (SBR) is a system by which incoming customer queries are categorised and routed directly to service representatives with the required skills to handle them. For example, an Italian customer with a refund request can be automatically directed to an Italian-language agent within the billing queue, instead of a general service rep manually transferring them later.
SBR is a fantastic way to implement service efficiency and increase CSAT scores from happy customers. It also avoids wasting support channel resources like time and energy, for both agents and customers.
Share performance tracking metrics & data
To increase transparency and accountability within the team, give your entire CS department—from agents to QA specialists and team managers—access to track every key performance indicator (KPI) and CX metric.
Your support staff should be able to easily review their KPIs, to correct procedural slumps or rectify incorrect performance evaluations.
Team managers must also be able to view CX metrics at a glance to see if everything is going well, check where more work is needed, and identify if any can supersede their current performance by introducing new training, service tweaks, or taking a fresh approach altogether.
Expand your team
As your business grows, so will your customer service department.
Many customer experience books tell you that having multiple specialised service teams can engineer great CX. A larger team also helps you solve requests faster — speed is as crucial as accuracy in delivering customer satisfaction. For example, Forrester reports that nearly all customers want a reply within the same day, while 41% expect a solution within six hours of contacting customer support.
Focus on hiring skilled agents, quality experts, and visionary managers to raise the bar on your customer service operation.
Remember, your end goal is customer success. That means delivering personalised, polished, and precise solutions when people reach out with a problem.
Are you thinking about scaling customer support?
Whether or not you’re thinking about it, scaling customer support is part of an essential growth process at every level of your organisation’s momentum.
We hope these tips help you strategise how to scale your customer support team efficiently, at whichever stage of growth your business is in, so you can meet your current service objectives while anticipating future goals.
The remote customer service solution
At Cocoroco, we believe great customer service is the backbone of healthy growth for all businesses.
As our world turns increasingly towards digital solutions above others, remote customer service opens up fantastic opportunities for businesses everywhere. It connects you with high-quality global talent aligned with your goal of delivering great service experiences for your digitally-savvy modern customers.
An in-house remote team sourced internationally helps you easily provide language specialist and localised customer support in a global way, while saving on expensive resources like real estate, energy, and hardware.
Interested in knowing more about the remote customer service solution and how it can help your business?
Our platform provides pre-vetted and ready-to-hire remote talent worldwide, offering native-level support across time zones and 24/7 shift hours.
We also work with a global employer of record to make payrolling—and other legal considerations for international new hires—a hassle-free process.