Your 1st hire for Customer Experience team was probably wrong. Here’s why…
Only once in 10 years did I see a startup hire the right person to head of Customer Experience before launch. Today, that company is receiving messages from less than 1% of their paying Customer base and enjoying repeat buyers each quarter (clothing brand). If your first hire for Customer Experience (or Service) was someone to respond to emails or calls, you may not have made the first call.
Here are my tips on how to build a scalable CX team.
Tip #1: Your first hire in your CX team should be someone who has built and SCALED a Contact Center or Customer Experience team as soon as you realize you need support (which should also be at the time you decide to start a business). If you can’t find that person, find a partner who can build your foundation from the ground up and help you launch the right way. This will save you lots of money in the long run.
If you get the right person in place, they will build the processes and begin engaging with Customers right away; simultaneously building out resources and materials to help future hires learn how to service your Customer.
Culture becomes a big focus in this stage. Inexperienced leaders tend to hire their friends, or people like them who will not threaten their role or position. This will produce mass frustration when processes are finally set and guidance is given. You may even experience a mass exodus. That’s totally normal. Yet, seasoned leaders hire people who will get the work done most efficiently. They’re more focused on results, less on relationships. They will hire people that fit the vibe of the company. They’ll consider: What types of personalities work best for the business? Who is the ideal hire? What values does the company possess? It will be up to this person to help bring in people that will add to that culture.
Tip #2: Introduce Workforce Optimization strategies EARLY. In order to know who to add to staff and when, this person will need a Workforce Management or Resource Planning Strategy. Depending on where you’re located, Workforce Management people can be hard to find, and finding someone who can plan for you without the aid of a system is even more of a challenge. At this point, the role isn’t full time. Find a partner that can build a plan for you for the next quarter, half year or even full year.
Now that you have your hiring plans in place, and you know what’s to come you will need to prepare to receive those new hires.
Tip #3: Hire your 2nd in command FIRST depending on your projections. If you will need more than 10 people within the first quarter, consider looking for a lead or supervisor (titles vary). Learn from my mistakes. I once scaled a team to 30 in less than 45 days, without a middle manager. My boss (who had never led large teams) didn’t see a problem with a 30:1 ratio, I digress. That IS a problem.
What happens is the hires will come directly to you for ALL of their needs. This is because you’re all they know. You’re the person who hired them. If they’re coming to you for questions or concerns, when do you have time to drive the team? Let’s put numbers to this, 30 questions a day that take 3 minutes to respond to turns into 90 minutes of time spent on things your second in command should be handling. In a week, that’s 7.5 hours of time you’re spending on something other than your primary focus: scaling the team. If you see the growth is imminent and coming quickly, hire a middle manager will FIRST. This person will then become their go to person, and escalations along with coaching and mentorship is their primary focus.
Having a coach present is instrumental in building a culture of inclusion and one of growth. The leader should never be too busy to help or support their team. If they, are you need help and should probably seek a partner to guide you through.
While all of this is going on, you should be focusing on assisting with hires, building training curriculum and ensuring your systems are built to scale. You should also be engaging with Product, Marketing and Tech to communicate Customer needs and expectations. These responsibilities require you to be in the past, present and future, while juggling strategy and tactical activities. I know. Impossible. So, here’s what I’d recommend.
(You guessed it!) Find a partner that can support you in setting up your systems for scalability, who can also aid in developing your training curriculum. In all reality, hiring can be a full-time job, especially if you have many seats to fill. You will need to keep your pipeline open, as turnover can sometimes be high, and you will need to be sure you can fill seats consistently. Sharing and collecting feedback becomes critical to success. If knew products or offerings are on the horizon, the team will need to be trained. It will be up to you to gather those requirements and provide the information required to your team for success.
After having been in these types of roles for so long, I decided my time was best spent helping other leaders become successful in the world of Contact Center Leadership. Here are some of the guidelines I live by.
A great lead can take care of everything happening this week, because s/he has received solid direction from their supervisor or manager who can handle anything happening this month or quarter (respectively).
This is due to the fact that the Sr. Manager or Director, has prepared plans and expectations for the next 6 months to a year and that is based on information the VP has provided given what’s coming for the next 1 to 3 years.
If your role can’t provide clarity on these timeframes, your contact center will not scale, and because Customer Experience is critical to your success and such a huge part of your budget, the impacts are limitless.
If you have 10 agents, you need one Quality Assurance person, or you’ll need a partner who can take care of this for you.
If you have 25 agents, consider at least a part time resource dedicated to Workforce Management (real time planning and adjustments).
If you need to hire more than 2 people at once, consider an instructor (even if contracted) and make sure your curriculum is properly documented for learning.
When I work with clients, if I’m able to get in the door as the first CX person, I can build this process in 30 to 60 days and help them find a long term leader (who would be much less expensive than a full time hire who has built and scaled). The foundation I set works for 1 employee or 100, 10 Customers or 10,000.
Start out asking yourself this question: If I needed to bring in 10 people next week, can I do that? If the answer is no. You are not set up to scale.