How to Build Your Customer Support Department From Scratch

There are no exact instructions for building successful customer support department. However, without a strategy things may fall apart when you do not expect this. In this blog post I would like to tell you about main blocks you need to build when you start your customer support department from scratch or reorganize an existing one. They will help to create a solid foundation for successful development. 

Explain your team the meaning of great customer service

First of all put yourself into your customer’s shoes. Follow the whole purchasing process including post-purchase communication to see what is missing and where you need to improve. Decide what level of customer service will be great and set the bar.

Establish a clear role for your customer support department

Without clear understanding of your customer support department role you will not be able to make it successful. Sometimes it is difficult to define individual roles. However, if you have clear understanding of responsibilities, this may make a positive effect on the company as a whole as well as on team projects:

  • Everything gets done and there are no missed tasks or “I do not know who is responsible” issues
  • Everybody knows what to do
  • People work better together
  • Less effort is spent on finding the person in charge

Create your company customer service culture

Who is the customer for you? Answer this questions before you proceed with building your customer support department. If this is not the person who is the main moving force of your business, then there is no sense to go on. If the customer is not the king, then your customer support department will be just another modern trend you decided to follow. On the other side, if your main goal is to delight your customers and create really customer-focused company, you should make it clear from the very beginning and integrate into all your business processes.

Identify hard and soft skills your customer support agents will require

Before you start hiring people for your customer support department, you need to understand what kind of hard and soft skills are required. While it is easier to make a list of hard skills, soft skills are more difficult to test as some of them may depend on experience a customer support representative possesses. Our Top Customer Service Soft Skills to Master White Paper will help you to understand what kind of skills you’d need to look for.

Decide which channels to support and choose the right tools

The more communication channels you offer your customers, the better. However, you need to ensure that each of those channels can be used to get in touch with your customer support team. Most popular communication channels are live chat, phone and email. You can also offer social media customer service and let your customer support department work together with marketing team.

Additionally, you’d need to empower your customer support department with the right tools. As it is important to offer smooth customer service experience and let your customers switch between communication channels if necessary.

Calculate the number of members you’d need for your department

From the very beginning it is difficult to know the exact number of customer support representatives you’d need. You can start with a small team and then increase it. Customer service statistics will help you to decide how many representatives to add and what kind of communication channel your customers prefer.

Lots of e-commerce companies prefer outsourcing customer support teams as this provides flexibility and saves time for hiring and training customer support representatives.

Hire the right people

By hiring the great customer service team you will ensure that your customer service is reliable and of high quality. Before you start interviewing candidates ask yourself the following questions:

  • What kind of skills will be required?
  • What is the ideal customer service representative?
  • How will new employees integrate into team?

Analyze data and set goals

It may be unclear from the very beginning what kind of data to measure and what kind of goals to set. However, to have happy and efficient team you need to measure the following data:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Team performance
  • Knowledge base
  • Team productivity
  • The number of customer support requests

These statistics will help you to decide how many customer support agents you need, what kind of actions you need to take to improve customer service and self service quality.

Invest in technology

You should not stop on specific set of customer service tools. E-commerce market is constantly growing and the number of tools that can make your workflow easier and more efficient is growing. By introducing latest technology you will not only follow modern trends but will also facilitate your customer support workflow.

Create the knowledge base for your customer support department

Creating really good and detailed knowledge base may seem quite time consuming. However, this will quickly pay your effort off. This tool will not only help your team to find needed information, but will also allow your customers to look for the answers to their questions. You can cover not only most commonly asked questions, but also more complicated issues and add case studies.

Moreover, there is no need to do this all at once. The initial knowledge base edition may contain basic questions and answers. However, the more issues your customer support department solves, the more details you can add to the knowledge base.

Ensure your department smoothly integrates with your company workflow

It is important to ensure that all departments work together and there are no obstacles preventing your team from providing excellent customer service. If you want to build really customer-focused company you’d need to ensure that delighting customers and great customer experience are the main goals set for all your company departments and these departments work together to achieve them. It is not possible to have only one customer-focused department. The goal of providing excellent customer experience should be set on all levels of your company.

You can use these customer service tips not only for building your customer support department from scratch but also for its reorganization and improvement. You are welcome to share your ideas and recommendations in the comments to this blog post.

Olga is a customer service expert and owner at Supportyourcustomer.com. She is writer and blogger on customer service and customer experience excellence.

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