The top 5 customer service pain points and how to manage them
Facing customer service pain points – from staffing, changes in demand, international barriers or security – is natural for start-ups but managing them is essential for growth. Bringing an experienced outsourcing partner on board can be the best way to ease pain points and will grant you easy access to scalability, international and intercultural expertise and best practice in customer service.
As a successful consumer-facing start-up, you most likely know your customers and their needs inside out and the customer experience is a key part of your culture and story. You’ve probably grown rapidly but had no problems so far managing customer services in-house. Yet, most expanding start-ups eventually reach a breaking point. One sign of this could be that customer inquiry volumes are rising faster than your team can respond.
The problem is that if customer service quality falls, so does customer loyalty. To avoid this, it is vital to identify customer service challenges as soon as they arise and make a plan to overcome them. Here we look at the top 5 customer service pain points our fast-growing clients are presenting to us – with some helpful tips on how to manage and scale customer service outsourcing.
1. Coping with the unknown
Once a start-up is established and driving profits, new questions arise – and some questions that you might not even know you should be asking. How do you serve customers in foreign countries where you have little knowledge of the market? How do you maintain the same quality of your customer service but at scale? What goals are realistic?
It is crucial to approach these challenges with a calm head and take it step by step. Analyze your current customer service processes and document them in as much detail as possible. Understanding how you serve your customers, what resources you need and reflecting on what has or hasn’t worked in the past, will help you identify what your needs will be in the future.
The next step is creating a strategic roadmap to set out clear goals, measurable objectives and requirements. Once this is all clearly defined, the uncertainty should seem a little less daunting.
2. Staffing customer service
Growing from a small customer service team to a large workforce creates challenges. Managing a large customer service team can quickly become a full-time job and take the focus away from delivering brilliant customer services. You might have started out with a small team of five people but now you have 150 full-time employees (FTEs) and you are so busy managing that operation that you are not listening to your customers.
Hiring additional customer service representatives to bridge the gap might seem like an obvious solution, but this can be expensive and time-consuming. Time that should be used for developing products and services ends up being spent on hiring and training new staff. Just look at Facebook, Google or Apple. If these companies hired all the customer service staff they needed in-house, their headcount would multiply every year. After a certain point, it just doesn’t make sense to keep doubling and tripling in size this way.
At this stage, it is important to work out what your staffing needs are and will be in the future. Are volumes likely to increase? Are you diverting time away from core business areas to manage customer service functions? Do you have all the necessary tools to manage a growing customer service team? Are you measuring your customer service results effectively?
3. Handling peaks and troughs in customer inquiry volumes
4. Expanding into new countries
Making the move into overseas markets is an exciting stage for any business but also comes with challenges. While it’s often possible to replicate products and production processes into new markets, adapting customer services to new countries can be trickier. There might be cultural and language barriers, and legal regulations and time zones could differ as well. For example, while Germans and Americans typically prefer voice-based customer services, Brits favor email contact and live chats.
Scoring customer satisfaction (CSAT) can also vary. Just compare northern and southern European countries. In northern nations, such as the Netherlands, a score of 7/10 generally means a customer is ‘very happy’ – higher scores are very unlikely. In southern European countries, consumers are more willing to score a 9/10 or even full marks if they feel the service was excellent.
Knowing these cultural nuances can make all the difference when settling into providing customer service in a new market, so map out possible issues when expanding early on. It’s better to create a plan to manage these challenges now than to face issue later down the line.
5. Managing physical and data security
Although data and cyber breaches can hit businesses of any size, the reality is that as you scale up you’re likely to become more of a target for hackers. As a start-up with a small core team you might have not needed a security protocol, but as you expand this will become increasingly important.
Data breaches have the potential to seriously damage your reputation as well as lead to substantial fines. For example, the average cost of a data breach is $3.86m and a lost or stolen record could lead to a $148m fine.
If you haven’t already, you need to assess your safety net to minimize data breaches and protect your customers’ personal information.
Facing one or more of these five pain points is a natural part of your company’s growth journey. The key to overcoming these hurdles is to evaluate and systematically forward-plan all areas of customer service – staffing, changes in demand, international barriers and security.
Experienced partners will have seen and done it all before – whatever challenges you are facing. They know how to best ease those pain points and be a trusted party as you go through the next stage of your growth journey.
Author: Editorial Team Future. Customer.
Image: © Alina – AdobeStock