Building your tech company's customer support toolset for scale
If you're a part of a fast-growing tech company, you know what it's like to acquire customers at a breakneck pace.
This first wave of customers (your early adopters) are gold. They love your product and can't wait to tell friends and family about it, creating a snowball effect through word-of-mouth.
When a tech company is growing at this speed, it can be tough to take time out to fine tune certain elements of the business, including scaling your customer support. In order to efficiently and cost-effectively manage the increased consumer demands, brands today are investing in cloud-based technologies that enable them to remain focused.
Here are some tools to consider when building your customer support tech stack for scale.
Scalable CRM that talks to other platforms
It's hard to create an efficient and personalized customer experience without easy access to your customers' data. That's why any company - big or small - needs to have some kind of customer relationship management (CRM) system that can scale with the business, says Shep Hyken, customer service expert and author of The Cult of the Customer.
A CRM gives everyone across the business visibility into customer data, such as contact information, sales opportunities, service issues and marketing campaigns, in order to provide a clear overview of your customers. Enterprise CRMs even come with ticketing systems to ensure all agents have a detailed customer history at their fingertips.
Though Hyken says the big household names offer outstanding tools, and many CRMs are surprisingly inexpensive for smaller enterprises, he says it's less about the brand name and more about implementing it and using it religiously; a CRM is only as valuable as the information it contains. Companies can consider starting small with a less expensive CRM and switch later on, says Hyken. "You're not going to get all the functionality, but you can always port your customer data to another CRM when the time is right."
Tools for measuring key contact center KPIs
As you scale, it's critical to keep a pulse on how customers are feeling about your product and support experience. You also need a forum for customers to deliver unstructured feedback that can enhance your support, provide input on existing products or even suggest entirely new ones.
Though Hyken recommends Qualtrics to track important KPIs like NPS and CSAT, he says he's also seen companies of all sizes using less expensive tools like SurveyMonkey to track the same metrics and gather customer feedback. Scaling successfully demands having a reliable mechanism for getting, and integrating, valuable customer feedback on an ongoing basis, he adds.
Workforce management systems to maximize efficiency
Customer growth typically means an increase in the number of customer service agents on your team, and managers can begin to encounter scheduling and shift-related challenges. While time-honored advice has been to hold-off on buying a more sophisticated workforce management (WFM) system than your operation requires, that may be changing.
Today, advanced technologies have enabled the development of cross-functional product suites that integrate WFM. "Cloud contact center phone systems that include workforce management are a big deal right now," says Mitchell Lieber, WFM expert and president of Chicago-based call center consultancy Lieber and Associates.
Companies planning for scale may want to look for a more comprehensive WFM platform right from the start. For example, Verint offers a cloud-based solution that enables contact center managers to plan, forecast and schedule agents and other employees across functions and geographies.
Cloud-based tools to enable easier collaboration and info-sharing
With customers regularly interacting with different agents to address a plethora of issues, companies need help with consistency — which is why Hyken says they should take advantage of the cloud. Files and data are accessible across devices, and team members can more easily collaborate in real time.
There are hundreds of cloud-based tools to enable collaboration, information-sharing and reporting, like ezTalks Cloud Meeting, Yammer, Skype, Google, and WebEx, to name just a few.
These tools are critically important since "the key to scaling is always going to come back to communication," says Matt Burns, head of U.S. Customer Success for project management platform Monday.com. "If you're not synced with your team and their needs, then success will bring on new problems that you're not prepared for."
More often than not, fast-growing companies will cobble together multiple solutions to facilitate both internal and customer-facing communication, depending on their needs, goals and budget requirements. While Burns and the Monday.com team have obviously made heavy use of their own project management platform, they've also used cloud-based help desk software ZenDesk for over two years. "We've enjoyed the ability to plug Zendesk into our internal systems and workflow," says Burns.
Omnichannel support tools for flexibility and scale
Multiple consumer surveys have found similar conclusions: The majority of customers want to receive customized service and be treated as people, not numbers. They also want to be able to receive customer support across multiple platforms and channels. Delivering on those expectations is important from a customer's very first brand interaction.
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That said, many scaling start-ups don't have the luxury of a full-time customer experience (CX) team to assess which tool would work best for them. This is why an experienced partner is an invaluable asset. Having help from a company fluent in digital CX that can work with your in-house tools, make valuable recommendations and even build custom solutions can be a game-changer for fast-growing brands.
For fast-growing start-ups, Greek philosopher Heraclitus' quote sums it up: Change is the only constant. "Our operation has changed dramatically as we've grown. What works well for a team of 10 doesn't necessarily work well as you continue grow," says Monday.com's Burns. "As you continue to scale, those areas of the business will continue to break down, so we're always in construction mode, assessing and adjusting our operations."
Fast growth has become the measure of success in the start-up ecosystem; however, if you haven't established processes and service standards early-on to cost-effectively serve customers, sustained growth could be your downfall. By thoughtfully implementing the right customer support tools for scale and engaging an experienced partner, there's no limit to the heights you can achieve.