Companies in the earliest phases of launching a new business tend to focus on providing customer support that’s “good enough.” They don’t have the time or resources to figure out the best way to help their customers—after all, their primary goal is to ensure they have customers to help.
Typically, these teams take what appears to be the simplest and quickest approach. They generally give customers an email address, possibly even a team member’s email address. But as the company grows and matures, this model quickly stops working. While email is an effective communication tool, it’s definitely not designed for managing customer support.
If you’re currently supporting customers via email, you’re probably wondering: How do I know when it’s time to make the leap to a more robust solution?
We’ve identified three signals that indicate it’s time to invest in a customer support platform.
1. Your team is growing
A shared email address only works for very small teams of two or three support agents. The moment your team expands beyond that, the system starts to break down in the following ways:
- More than one person responds to a question, sometimes even offering contradictory answers.
- You have no idea who responded to a question, so it’s difficult to give your team guidance and feedback on an individual basis.
- Some customers write in days later, wondering why you haven’t responded. Using email, it’s tough to keep track of which questions you’ve responded to and which you have not.
- Your team finds it difficult to collaborate. It’s not easy to leave each other notes or share information without forwarding emails.
When these things start to happen, no one’s happy. Customers feel like they’re not getting the support they need to be successful and your team’s morale will nosedive, because they’ll recognize that they’re not performing at their best.
As soon as you have someone assigned to full time support or more than one person wearing the customer support hat, it’s time to consider adopting software that’s dedicated to providing an excellent support experience. In other words, if your team is expanding, it’s time to move to a customer support platform.
2. It’s hard to keep track of your customers’ questions and your responses
Over time, as your customer base grows and your team responds to their questions from a shared email address, it becomes increasingly difficult to follow up on ongoing issues.
For maximum efficiency, you need access to the history of questions and responses for each client. Without the history, you might find yourself covering the same issues again and again, or suggesting a workaround that was previously recommended to the customer. This can make it extremely frustrating for customers.
If you find you are feeling lost about what’s being asked, pressured to find the answers to questions you’re sure you’ve already answered, or even letting things slip through the cracks, a customer support platform may just be the right solution.
3. You want more data
As time goes on, you realize that simply responding to customer questions is the barest minimum you can do to give your customers the support they need. Imagine how much better your team could perform and how much more value you could offer your customers if you had access to additional information, such as your support volume or your first response time. Insights like these could help you do a better job at planning your team’s time. And you could set expectations with your customers so they can be confident that for business critical issues, you’ve got the resources to support them.
A customer support platform can help you answer questions like:
- How many customers emailed us in the last 24 hours? Last week? Last month? How is that changing over time?
- What days of the week or times of day do we hear from customers the most?
- How quickly are we responding to customers?
- What types of questions do customers have? What parts of our product or service lead to the most questions?
- How satisfied are our customers with our service? What are our CSAT or CES scores?
If you don’t know which issues require the most support or how many questions your team is answering each week, it’s time to adopt a customer support platform.
You need a customer support platform—now what?
If you’re looking at these three signals and nodding because one or more of them apply to you, the time has come to make the shift. Unfortunately, it’s not something you can do overnight. You'll need to make a business case to present to your senior managers that shows why investing both time and money is the right choice. Then you’ll need to figure out which platform is the right one and actually implement it.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing information about all that and more. Stay tuned to learn how to know if it’s time to upgrade your current platform to a more robust solution. Or skip ahead to the third post of this five part series, when we’ll explain how to make a business case for investing in a customer support platform.