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Seven mistakes to avoid when scaling your customer service

Scaling your business rapidly comes with enormous and sometimes unforeseen challenges. It's not always easy to hire and onboard staff, improve processes or implement new technology, while simultaneously growing your customer base.

Take Zoom, for example. The number of people working from home skyrocketed in early 2020; at its peak, 300 million people used the software daily and sales grew 326%, as reported by CNBC. That meant the videoconferencing service had to ramp operations quickly. Zoom responded by adding additional servers and engineers to manage the increased demand for its technology.

As online publication Protocol noted, "Zoom was able to handle that surge in demand with minimal service disruption, thanks to a global hybrid cloud network of self-managed data centers and the cloud resources of AWS and Oracle." Zoom also expanded its wider workforce, growing its team from 2,400 in early 2020 to more than 5,000 today.

Not all start-up customer service scaling looks this graceful. Zoom's story is exceptional, but there are lessons in it for all companies, regardless of how fast you grow your business. Below are seven mistakes to avoid when on your scaling journey.

1. Losing sight of the employee experience

Protecting, or even upgrading, the quality of your customer experience is mandatory when scaling. As the business grows, it's tempting to put all the focus on the customer.

But don't forget about the people who make that customer experience a reality.

It's more than worthwhile to invest in your team through training opportunities, benefits and wellness programs. In a study of 276 organizations in 96 countries, global analytics firm Gallup found that when employees are engaged, absenteeism, adverse incidents and employee turnover all declined substantially, while productivity increased by 18%.

2. Not sharing data with team members

Giving employees insight into the purpose of their work and what they're helping the company accomplish can pay major dividends.

As we've previously mentioned, a heavy equipment manufacturer that gave employees more access to customer feedback saw CSAT scores grow by 50% compared to more tight-lipped organizations. The willingness to be transparent with employees by giving them insight into metrics and decision-making can build internal trust and foster a strong company culture.

Ultimately, that contributes to the growth of your customer experience. By being able to see the impact of their work, team members will be more motivated to improve your CSAT and other important metrics.

3. Focusing on efficiency over customer success

In the pursuit of efficiency, some companies lose sight of genuinely helping the customer.

There have been some great examples, however, of customer care teams taking the time to go above and beyond. For example, a TELUS International team member received a call from an elderly customer looking for assistance with his smart home device. During the interaction, the customer revealed he was feeling lonely and socially isolated. The team member took the time to engage with the customer, chatting about childhood memories and life experiences. When it was time to end the call, the customer said it was the highlight of his week and thanked the team member profusely for their kindness.

This certainly wasn't the most efficient use of the agent's time, and it may not be feasible to replicate in every customer interaction. However, it shows that going the extra mile generates goodwill around your brand — a critical result in a world where consumers are searching for authentic connections. If current staffing levels are impacting quality of service, consider outsourcing your customer care to increase scalability and customer satisfaction.

4. Getting stuck in analysis paralysis

It's often too easy to get stuck in the process of gathering and analyzing information about your organization's growth trajectory, modeling scenarios and pondering the steps it can take to scale seamlessly. The customer experience does not take place in spreadsheets. Analysis paralysis is real, and it can detract from the scaling demands you have in front of you.

Don't get stuck in a loop of planning for future customers, because it might lead you to ignore the ones you've already got.

5. Not adding self-service options

Self-service options such as wikis, FAQs and product documentation can help reduce the strain on a busy customer service team. If a customer can find what they need on your website or through a chatbot, they won't need to speak to an agent, freeing up that member of staff for inquiries that need more of a personal touch.

6. Spending too long on recruiting

It's important to find the right people for the job, but it's easy to spend too much time on recruitment. You already know outsourcing your customer service is an easy win for quick scalability, but also consider working with an experience talent acquisition partner to streamline your hiring practices.

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) frees up managers to focus on more important tasks while recruitment is handled in the background. This is an efficient way to build a new team or add to an existing one as demand grows.

7. Ignoring the Voice of the Customer

When the phones are ringing and email inboxes are overflowing, reviewing customer feedback can seem like the least pressing thing on your to-do list. But establishing a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program is critical to your long-term success. Using VoC analytics lets you study customer feedback, and ultimately improves customer retention, guides product evolution and drives marketing strategies.

Avoid these mistakes while you scale

When your company starts growing from a handful of employees and customers to an expansive enterprise, you need to take the time to reflect on what you need to meet your goals. Sometimes that's more staff, sometimes it's new technology and sometimes it's different processes, but more often than not, it's a combination of all three.

Scaling isn't about barreling towards the future at high speed; it's about building a successful, sustainable business. Investing in employees, the customer experience and product development are major contributing factors to your potential. Strategic partnerships with companies that understand your growth potential can help get you to where you want to go.

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