It is the dream of every entrepreneur that his/her business will grow and become more profitable. I mean, why else start a business if you don’t want it to grow, right? Well, with a lot of hard work and continuous effort business growth is certainly an attainable goal.
However, even if you are successful in growing your business and its revenues, there is also another area in which you must also ensure growth – customer support.
You would think that as businesses and companies grow, customer support divisions or departments grow proportionately. And, in most cases, the physical numbers of agents or support staff do get larger.
However, you may be surprised to know that some of the largest companies also have some of the worst customer support ratings according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, or ACSI.
With huge customer support budgets and hundreds (if not thousands) of service reps and agents, you might wonder how is bad customer support with large companies even possible. In this post, I will discuss some areas that might (and sometimes do) cause customer support growing pains for growing companies and how to avoid them.
There are many aspects that must be considered when developing and implementing an effective customer support strategy. To prepare such a strategy requires a lot of thought and planning that should always take the form of a written guide or outline.
Your customer support strategy should be like any other important plan for your business – it needs to be written down, reviewed and then reviewed repeatedly and often. Review your customer support strategy and emphasize the things that are working well and re-evaluate those that are not helping your customers (or your ability to help your customers.)
If you make changes to your customer support policies or strategies, ensure that everyone in the customer service team (or better yet the entire company) is aware of them and that they are documented in your customer support manual or policy guides.
Continued evaluation and review of your support policies will also help you identify ways in which your customers’ needs and expectations are changing or evolving. Just remember that customers and trends change, so make sure that your policies and strategies evolve as needed to provide better support.
For most owners or managers, customer satisfaction and service is always a priority. And, in smaller companies, those at the top are usually able to ensure that employees understand the need for superior customer service relatively easily. With larger companies, though, things are not always so simple.
With larger companies, the rank-and-file may not value customer service as much as management does. Therefore, you must ensure that everyone in your organization knows your values, strategies and policies concerning customer support and service. Sometimes, a simple company-wide memo or email is all that’s needed to make sure everyone is on the same page.
While it’s important to make sure everyone knows that customer service is a priority, it’s equally important that you define your goals and expectations in a clear and concise manner. Making sure everyone understands customer service expectations will result in less confusion and happier customers.
When it comes to customer service, don’t let your guard down – ever! Remember when you first getting started with your new business? Remember how hungry you were to introduce your fabulous products and services to the world? Remember how you would do anything to make your customers happy so they would spread the word?
If you have grown to a point to where those things aren’t important to you anymore, get back to the basics now. Don’t become complacent just because your business has grown; work harder to improve your customer support so it will continue to grow.
When companies become complacent, they tend to leave outdated customer support policies and strategies in place because sales numbers seem okay or other areas of the business seem to be running smoothly. Ensuring customer satisfaction, though, is a never-ending process and one that take continuous hard work.
No one knows your business better than you and your employees. Not only do you and your staff know your products and services inside and out, you also know the difficulties that sometimes arise when using them. Consequently, if you’re considering outsourcing your customer support, you may want to think twice before making the decision to let strangers help your customers with problems.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Outsourcing some areas with your live chat or other support platform can be a very economically viable decision that sometimes makes a lot of sense. For instance, outsourcing general inquiries or website navigation assistance to offshore or freelance agents can help extend business hours with your live chat or reduce expenses.
The other side of that coin is not so shiny when it comes to handling customer complaints and problems, though. Most offshore centers and freelancers rely on prepared scripts for dealing with customer issues, and these canned responses can do very little to help with customer problems.
Like I said, outsourcing can save your company money in some case. Still, it costs a lot more money to attract new customers than it does to retain current ones. Therefore, consider carefully who you depend on to handle issues and problems with the customers you already have.
If you must outsource, make 100-percent sure that those helping your customers have adequate training and thorough knowledge of your products and/or services.