Setting up Customer Service seems so simple on the surface. But after working in some capacity of CX for about 100 companies, I can tell you what it takes to set up for scale.
You’re probably thinking all you need is a person or two to talk to customers and you’re done. Right? Wrong!
There’s more to it… so much more. Much much more. Did I mention more?
To help you along, I’m including a short guide that includes things you should consider when you’re building a team that you plan to scale.
Policies Yes, good ole policies. Will you accept returns and when? Should you request images? All of these things matter and what matters above all is doing things mostly the same for all. Consistency is key. Go with the 80/20 rule as nothing will work every single time. But having a policy will help guide you and will give your team a point of reference.
Some of the policies you will need to have in place are: Returns, Cancelations, Shipping, Missing Item(s), Damaged Item(s) and in general, a way to go about creating happy customers who were previously disappointed (which will never happen, I know!).
Knowing what to do when up front will save you a ton of time later.
Tools and Tech Stack As much as you may hate the thought, you will need a system that will track messages from your customers. I like Gmail too, but I had to quickly put on my big girl pants and upgrade to an experiences like Zendesk, Freshdesk, Customer or Front to name a few (choose what’s best for your business).
Trust me, tracking today doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if you’re planning on growing, you will DEFINITELY want to keep track of your customer engagements.
Categorizing your contacts at the start will help you understand why people contact you and will also help you to determine when to introduce self service processes (hint: at the very beginning).
Which channels should you use to offer support? This is my favorite question because the answer is all of them! Well, all of the channels your customer expects you to offer. If cost is an issue, start with email, then go to live chat and finally phones.
Social media will become a channel automatically, if you’re posting, like it or not. Customers are not scary people. Teach the people who are liking and commenting on social media how to create satisfied customers. Trust me, they can do it!
Metrics and KPIs How will you know if you’re doing well? Sometimes we’re so afraid of numbers that we don’t even look at them. Here’s what I say: measure only those things that are actionable and throw away everything else.
Customers hate waiting, so measure their wait time and operate with a goal of cutting it down consistently.
The time it takes to service a customer matters, because it helps you to determine how many people you will need to do the work, so measure contact handle time (you don’t need to help people accountable, think Zappos… but this metric will help you see a lot.)
As much as it matters to reply fast, it also matters to resolve issues and not just provide answers. Measure your resolution time and let your customers tell how you did.
How will you collect customer feedback? There are many different survey types out there: CSAT (customer satisfaction survey) which measures how a customer feels about a particular interaction. These results can be a bit misleading as the response is not always about the interaction, but sometimes about the outcome. The point is you can always learn.
CES or Customer Effort Surveys measure the ease of interacting with you and getting the issue resolved. This one is my favorite, because it’s actionable and tells you so much. If a customer tells you it took too long to get a reply, you know where to focus. If a customer tells you you made it too difficult to return an item, you now have insights. The key is to look for trends and not react to everything you see.
NPS or Net Promoter Scores measure the likelihood a customer will recommend your business to family or friends. Companies love this one because NPS is free publicity from a trusted source. On the other hand, that recommendation could be negative and that’s no fun. No matter what, NPS usually isn’t tied to a specific interaction, but with the experience overall. Also, the outcomes of the results can be tied to many different sources, so collaboration is key here.
Plans for growth? Knowing how many people you will need is critical (make sure you’re measuring)… but once those folks get in the door will they know what to do? Training for your employees is essential, both from a cultural standpoint and an operational standpoint and e-learning is king!
Document your processes and expectations and update them often. This will eliminate the train the trainer debacle which will have five people serving customers five different ways, and believe me… you do not want that!
Are you drop-shipping? Did you make the mistake of thinking the supplier handles the heavy lifting (shipping and fulfillment) and you’re only on the front end? Well, think again. Here are some things to sufficiently turn your hair gray: Where will returns go? What’s the inspection process? Who pays for expedited shipping on orders when delivery dates were missed? How about loss or stolen orders?
Ultimately, the question is what agreements will you have with your supplier? There’s no right or wrong, just what’s right for you.
Direct to consumer? Whether you’re fulfilling orders from your living room or you’re going through Amazon or a warehouse.. How long will it take for orders to be packed and shipped? Communicate this to customers through your help center (Yes! You need one). How will you handle incomplete, stolen or lost orders (free reship or refunds)?
Conclusion What you just read through is the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens more questions to ask and we haven’t even touched on people and hiring.
Hopefully, I didn’t scare you too badly… Just wanted you to know setting up customer service operations is not a simple thing. There’s lots to consider. So when you hire that college grad with no work experience to set up customer service and they have no clue what to do, cut them a break… I’m 21 years in and still learning!