How To Scale Your Customer Support Operations

Satisfying as many customers as possible is the only surefire way to scale your business upwards in a sustainable fashion, yet many entrepreneurs and corporate professionals struggle when it comes to bolstering their customer support operations. This is because customer support is no easy thing to conquer, with many entrepreneurs simply throwing money at the problem with desperate hopes that a solution will present itself sooner rather than later.

In reality, you need more than money to scale your customer support operations – you need dedicated workers to help you achieve your goals and a game plan to steer you from the start. Here’s how you should be scaling your customer support operations without breaking the bank.

Spend in the right areas

It goes without saying that you’ll have to spend some money to scale your customer support operations; anybody who claims that you can manage more customers than ever before while spending little to no money is likely lying to you as they attempt to peddle a product. It’s true that you can lower your overall customer support budget while still achieving better results than ever before, but only if you spend properly in the crucial areas while ignoring spending in other, unimportant areas. Hiring new, capable employees, for instance, is something that you should focus on if you want to get more bang for your buck.

Everybody’s talking about digitization these days; it seems like it’s impossible to earn a profit in any sector unless you’re spending huge sums of money on software and hardware. While technology is crucially important for your business’ success, however, it’s also indisputably true that clever, tech-savvy employees are needed to actually leverage the fancy new tools you’ve acquired for them. Knowing when it’s time to hire some help is a sign that you’re a good manager, so think twice if you’ve looked at your current customer support operations and said “we have enough workers to achieve our goals.”

Don’t hesitate to spend more money if it means bringing on an excellent employee who has valuable experience in managing angry customers. This is particularly true if the average customer support question you’re dealing with is a high stakes situation as in a medical facility such as Express MRI; some companies receive huge amounts of calls that are of middling importance, on average, whereas others receive only a few calls that are nevertheless imperative for the overall profitability of the business. The more important those calling you for help are, the more crucial it is that you have a human trained and ready to pick up the phone when they come ringing for help.

Automation can still help

Despite the fact that your focus should be on human capital, it’s important to understand that automation can still help. The digitization of the workplace has made it possible for fewer workers to cover a wider base of customers but try to resist the temptation that arises when companies tell you that you can halve your workforce while still meeting the needs of your customers. Regardless of how effective some digital technology is, automation still can’t replace human ingenuity, and customers everywhere want to deal with a mix of both humans and robots when it comes to their problems.

McKinsey has demonstrated that eCare strategies can drastically cut down on the costs of doing business, but don’t focus too much on this area unless you’re confident that it won’t dehumanize your operations to invest additional money in digitizing the workplace. This is because no software program can replace the experience of talking to another human when something goes wrong, and all it takes is one angry customer for your expensive IT investment to backfire. The best bet is to mix eCare strategies with traditional customer appeasement strategies that still make good use of human workers.

Pumping the breaks on digitization outside of crucial areas also helps you avoid the mistake of scaling too quickly. Some businesses need to expand, but if you try to conquer too much territory at once you’ll never be able to consolidate the holdings in your possession. Focus on slow but steady change that targets crucial areas, and your customer support operations will be doing better in no time.

Finally, it’s worthwhile to understand that the best way to digitize your customer support operations in an effort to scale them upwards is to provide more information to the fingertips of your workers. By equipping your customer service representatives with a wide-reaching arsenal of digital tools that enable them to summon more information in less time, you’ll be helping customers achieve their desired results while keeping your current workforce happy and prepared for the future. Vonage reminds us that customer support specialists who have access to more information routinely succeed at their jobs when their technologically-deprived peers fail.

Brett Sartorial

Brett is a business journalist with a focus on corporate strategy and leadership. With over 15 years of experience covering the corporate world, Brett has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, analytical and insightful journalist. He has a deep understanding of the business strategies and leadership principles that drive the world's most successful companies, and is able to explain them in a clear and compelling way. Throughout his career, Brett has interviewed some of the most influential business leaders and has covered major business events such as the World Economic Forum and the Davos. He is also a regular contributor to leading business publications and has won several awards for his work.