Doing customer support with a small team isn’t easy. It’s a balancing act between managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
Customer reviews and referrals help you get new customers, while being quick and accessible helps you keep your current customers coming back for more.
If you fall short on either end of this spectrum, your business will likely suffer. Bad reviews and a subpar customer experience have sunk many a business. In today’s digital world, the voice of the customer is more powerful than ever.
Luckily, you don’t need a huge team of support agents and a ton of resources to deliver an exceptional customer experience. In fact, the recipe for doing great customer support with a small team is quite simple.
First, you should have a plan of action for tackling the common challenges faced by small support teams. Conversely, you’ll want to leverage the unique benefits of being small (and mighty!). Finally, you need the right help desk software to help you do it all.
Let’s look at all three.
Unique Challenges and Benefits of Doing Customer Support with a Small Team
Doing customer support with a small team is so much different than doing customer support with a team of 100+ support agents. While large customer support teams have their own challenges, they also have a ton of tools and processes that can help them troubleshoot when the time comes.
For small customer support teams, the story is quite different. Let’s compare the common challenges and benefits of doing customer support with a small team.
Two common challenges faced by small support teams:
1. Managing support volume, especially as it increases.
The most difficult challenge of doing customer support with a small team is keeping up with demand. It’s all well and good when you have enough agents to answer questions, but as soon as demand increases—that’s when small support teams feel stretched. It’s also when the customer experience suffers.
To handle increasing customer support volume as a small team, it’s critical to plan ahead.
Does your business run promotions or sales on certain days of the year? Do you have holiday-related campaigns coming up that are likely to cause an increase in customer questions?
If so, keep a calendar of these events and train your support team to be ready to put all hands on deck on those days.
Beyond that, cross-company communication is critical. You’ve got to get as much detail as possible about the expected increase so your team has enough runway to get prepped.
2. Keeping track of ALL THE THINGS while maintaining quality customer support.
Small support teams tend to rely less on established processes. You’ll often find the answers to common questions remain inside someone’s head, and are less likely to be written down or evangelised.
That’s because small support teams need to balance managing support in a timely fashion, with all the other demands on their plate. They don’t have time for pristine documentation when they’re also doing reporting, tracking NPS, and of course, delivering great customer service.
That’s where choosing the right help desk software and tracking tools can help. Whether you’re cobbling together your customer support stack, or using an all in one tracking, project management and help desk tool like DoneDone, your small team needs the right toolset get the job done.
We’ll talk more about this in detail further on.
Two common perks of doing customer support with a small team
1. Agility and the ability to move fast (and break things)!
The biggest benefit of being part of a small (and mighty!) customer service team is your team’s ability to be nimble.
Small customer support teams can experiment with testing new channels, new processes, new tools and new strategies. The checks and balances that stop larger teams from doing so are less established, making smaller teams more agile.
For customer experience, this is critical. Customers are impatient and yet, they expect the best. If you’re able to pivot to meet customer needs faster than the competition, you’re a step ahead at winning, closing and retaining your customers.
2. Collaboration and communication.
For large organisations, collaboration and communication across teams, departments and management levels can be a huge challenge.
The customer support team uses a help desk to answer customer queries and their own time tracking and project management tools. The product team uses an entirely different suite of tools for bug tracking and roadmapping. The marketing team, meanwhile, uses their own variety of CRM and analytics tools to attract new customers.
In other words, for large customer support teams to be successful, they’re often having to jump through tools and management layers just to get the right details.
So when it comes to collaboration, that’s where small customer support teams shine. A minimal amount of structure paired with being nimble, makes it so much easier for small support teams to work together and get answers to customer questions, fast.
Choosing the right channels and customer ticketing system
Now that you’re aware of the challenges and benefits of doing customer support with a small team, it’s important to select the right tools and channels that’ll make the positives outweigh the negatives.
In their book “Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business,” Frances Frei and Anne Morriss state: “To achieve service excellence, you must underperform in strategic ways.”
In other words, small customer support teams must aim for quality above all else.
One way to improve quality is by selectively choosing your support channels. Your small customer support team can’t be everywhere at once, so you must choose wisely.
But how do you choose? The trick is knowing which channels are right for your business and your customers.
Generally speaking, providing email support is where most customer service teams start. It’s simple, easily managed and isn’t as reactive as other channels, like live chat or phone support.
If you’re already providing email support and considering branching out, first think about your customers:
- What channels do they typically use for communication?
- Are questions more technical or personal? Technical questions need more time to be handled, so live chat wouldn’t be a great choice.
Second, think about your team:
- What are their skills?
- How reactive are you able to be with the team you currently have? If you’re almost at your breaking point, it might not be a good time to introduce a new channel.
- Do you have the ability and time to spend on training your team to adopt a new tool?
Third, think about your business:
- What’s your budget?
- What tools and systems do you have in place already that can help you scale? Perhaps your help desk already offers phone or live chat support as a feature.
Once you’ve answered all of these questions, it’s time to decide on which help desk covers your small team’s needs. Do your homework, read customer reviews and compare tools against one another for pricing and features.
Remember, smaller teams tend not to need all the bells and whistles that come with enterprise customer support platforms like Zendesk or Freshdesk.
Instead, a simple tool like DoneDone—an all-in-one helpdesk, bug tracker and project management system—might just be the perfect fit for your small team.
While small customer support teams face many challenges, they also benefit from being agile, collaborative and communicative.
This enables small teams to do customer support efficiently and effectively—but only if they have the right tools and ticketing system to power up their customer support.
In the end, it all comes back to your customer. Put them at the forefront of your customer service strategy, build your team and system around them, and you’ll deliver a great experience that’ll keep them coming back for more.
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