Avoid growing pains: Four ways to scale up your customer serviceby
Customer support, solutions, service – whatever you call it, your customers are your business’ lifeline and their concerns and feedback must be the focus point of your business. It goes without saying that those who are in direct contact with them play a critical role to your company’s success - from day one of your start-up to your expansion into new markets and new languages.
I remember when Wix.com had just 5,000 users and we received less than 10 queries a week. Answering them was a breeze and everyone was on board – founders, executive staff and engineers – to help us support our almost English-only customer base. As the company expanded into new markets and languages – and we now have over 50 million users in more than 190 countries, supporting 11 languages – keeping up with the massive amount of queries in multiple languages, has become more complex.
What we’ve learned in the process is that it is possible to provide professional and efficient customer support without breaking the bank, being overwhelmed, or feeling over-staffed. Here are four key customer elements to consider as you grow:
1. Go local
It may sound obvious but hiring native speakers can have a huge positive effect on your business’ ability to provide professional customer service. First, your customers will get a better experience with someone who truly understands their culture and speaks their language without any barriers or misunderstandings. Second, you’ll have employees who can provide invaluable input on how to best localise your product or service, generating an important feedback system for product development. It’s a win-win situation.
Each of your markets will want to learn about your product or service in a different way. Some will prefer textual articles, others videos. As you understand each market better through these local hires, you can create information that better caters to their needs, and grow your help centre accordingly. Once set-up, less queries will come through to your customer support team, freeing up their time for other activities.
2. Encourage diversity
Building a strong customer support team is more than just checking their lingual skills. Creating a diverse support staff can motivate your team, reduce the workload and bring more skills into your company. Here are some examples from our team: I hired an opera singer who excels at video tutorial voiceovers; a psychology student who helps out with sensitive user situations; a writer who scripts excellent articles and tutorials for our learning centre; an analytical person who checks our stats to see where we can improve our knowledge base; and a technical person for the tougher techie questions. Your team is more than question answerers. Hire well and they’ll have a huge positive effect on your company as a whole.
3. Offline and on the road
Utilise your support staff’s travel plans to see friends and family back home, by planning meet-ups where they can meet face-to-face with your customers. Customers will jump at the chance to meet a representative from your company in person, and you’ll benefit from greater insight into your audience.
4. Social networks – listening is key
No doubt you run at least one company profile on a social network. By nature those are great places to have a conversation with your clients, so utilise them to make your users feel listened to and welcome. It’s why they are there. Respond to as many queries as you can on the channel itself, generating a dialogue for everyone to see and be a part of. If available, direct them back to your company’s help section or learning centre when appropriate.
Obviously, it’s impossible for a young business to open up a profile in every language at the start. However, you can still show that you’re listening and understand them even when you don’t have the resources to respond in their native tongue. Consider crafting several template responses in a variety of languages apologising and explaining this. It’s a small but very welcomed gesture that your customers will appreciate.
In addition to all of the above elements, as your company goes global it’s key to establish a close connection between your customer service team and the engineers, product managers and c-level executives. By creating an efficient and feedback loop to our technical and executive teams, you can empower and leverage your support staff to be equal participants in the development of your products.