When it comes to business, growth is good. But in business as in human life, that adolescent period of rapid growth can be a bit, well, uncomfortable. Any company on the cusp of success is bound to have a customer boom along the way- an experience both exhilarating and overwhelming, especially for your customer support staff. Laying the groundwork now for the needs you see on the horizon will help you to protect tomorrow’s eager customers from experiencing frustrating delays in service and shortcomings in support. A scalable customer experience (CX) strategy is the scaffolding you need to prepare for building up and out. Here’s how to do it.
Get a view from above
Getting an overall sense of your customer service workflow now will better prepare you for scaling it in the future. Where do your customer support requests come from? What are the proportional inbound volumes coming from each channel? What is the average length of time it takes to resolve different types of customer support tickets? How many issues can agents handle concurrently? When and why do different types of support tickets involve multiple agents or contact points? How long does it take to successfully onboard an agent? These are the types of questions you’re better off asking now than when you’re scrambling in a frenzy of growth and drowning in unresolved tickets.
Utilize your customer support software fully
Make sure your agents are using the features of your software to their fullest extent to eliminate redundancies and ensure that all features, particularly those that maximize efficiency, are being utilized to their full potential. If this process leads you to the conclusion that you’re dissatisfied with your customer service software or unsure of its scalability, make a switch. Better to know and change your system now than to be forced to transition in the midst of a growth boom.
Determine what level of automation you’re comfortable with, and plan accordingly
Today’s customers certainly do not like the feeling of interactions that are stiff and robotic, but a certain degree of automation can make your life easier (especially considering the growth you’re anticipating) without sacrificing authentic customer relationships. For example, drag-and-drop text sets or text combination functions based on particular scenarios can save agents the time and tedium of typing out responses from scratch every time while still allowing for personalization specific to the customer.
Optimize your channels in priority order
Prepare to scale the channels that customers seem to prefer the most, but also lay infrastructure to direct customer traffic toward your most efficient and least costly channels.
Remember that happy employees make happy customers
If you’re anticipating a rapid period of growth, you need to also anticipate the potential strain this will put on the members of your team. Customer experience and employee experience are two sides of the same coin, as you cannot expect overtaxed, burned-out customer support agents to provide a vibrant and personal customer experience. They’re only human, after all. Have a game plan in mind for how you will manage growth without sacrificing your upbeat company culture.
Never lose touch with the customer experience
Assuming you already have a customer-centric mindset to the way you do business (and you should), maintaining that customer perspective is more important now that you’re on the verge of growth than it ever was before. Remember that as your customer base grows. so will the feedback that comes from it, provided you are prepared to listen. Do not assume that the insights of the relatively small group of customers you started with will suffice for the growing whole. Make sure you have the right infrastructure (i.e. software, processes, and feedback cycles) in place as you prepare to scale.
Remember that CX is not to be dictated by executives, but lived by them
As your company scales, your leadership team likely will, too. As the leaders of the company, it’s important that executives are wholeheartedly invested in the company’s CX strategy. Growth that warps away from this intention is a particularly ominous threat when there is someone in a large-scale decision-making role whose vision doesn’t center on CX. If rapid growth is on your horizon, start thinking now about how your executive team will factor into continued CX success.
Map, and keep mapping, the customer journey
There is no better way to keep everyone on the same page, even in the face of rapid growth, than a customer journey map. Journey mapping is not a one-and-done item to be checked off your to-do list and forgotten. Consider it a living document, one that changes and evolves along with the company. The journey of a customer before your company scales can be vastly different from the journey of a customer post-growth. To protect the customer experience through the expansion of your company, there must be a deliberate effort to keep that experience highly visible to all stakeholders, particularly those who are not working directly with customers.
Growth brings excitement, but also challenges. With CX at the center of your operational mindset, growth is inevitable. Be sure to care for the strategy that brought you to this point by scaling it right alongside your company. Growing up and out should not mean losing touch with your customer experience, but rather demands refocusing on it.