When your small business grows, one of your first thoughts should be how to scale customer service. How can you maintain the same level of care for your customers when you double or triple in size? This is a challenge every small business hopes for, yet when it arrives it can be a daunting task to face. Your customers, new and existing, expect the highest level of customer service. It is not only your job to deliver that but to also ensure no disruptions to their experience despite any changes – positive or negative – happening in your business.
Here are a few effective ways to scale your customer service operation effectively as your small business grows.
Centralize Your Customer Data
As your customer list grows, so does your amount of customer data. Where and how this data is stored is critical to your ability to scale your customer service operation quickly. It can be a significant hindrance to your efficiency when it spans across databases and is not centralized.
When your customer data is housed in a single system – such as in a centralized returns management system – you have access to every important customer care record, order, return and more at a glance. This makes locating and managing important customer data simple and straightforward.
Establish Strong Workflows
Your customer service operation is most easily scaled when it is clearly defined and working well from the start. Part of this means establishing strong customer service workflows upfront. The more thought out your customer care process is, the easier it will be to replicate for a growing list of customers.
One way to see how efficient your current customer service workflows are is to put them into practice on yourself or your employees. Try ordering something from your website. Check to see how it arrives – shipment times, quality of shipment, etc. – then try to return it. Reach out to your customer service team anonymously. Gauge their response times, helpfulness, and level of service. From there, you will be able to clearly identify and fix any issues and define better workflows that can scale with your small business.
Embrace a Self Service Model
Although it can seem counter-intuitive, your customers likely prefer self-service. Waiting to speak to someone in your customer service department for a simple request or question is often more trouble than it’s worth. Instead of sinking your resources into a giant call center, invest in an online self-service portal.
Your customers can use this tool in conjunction with your customer care email and phone support to answer their own questions quickly. They can help you by updating their own contact information, checking on the status of their requests, and more. Plus, you can style it to fit your branding and help manage their requests faster and easier.
Automate Repetitive Tasks
Many small businesses fear that automation takes the personal touch out of their customer service operation, but the opposite is true. Automation enhances the quality of care your customers receive and can still be highly personalized to ensure that human touch is not lost. Just by automating basic, repetitive tasks you can save hours of time per day and deliver a better customer experience.
Start by evaluating your most repetitive emails and create a personalized template that works for your customers. This can include fields like first name, address, and more. Then, define the rules that will dictate when and how each email is sent. Some advanced systems even allow you to create custom notifications to alert you when these messages are sent or replied to so you never miss an opportunity to engage with you customers in real time!
Listen & Learn
The best way to scale your customer service operation correctly is by listening to your customers. They will often tell you, either directly or indirectly, what they require from your business in terms of their care in order to stay happy and loyal to your brand. All you need to do is be perceptive and open to their feedback and figure out creative ways to incorporate it into you current model.
Have you successfully scaled your customer service operation to meet growing demand? Share your favorite tips and tricks in the comments below!