Growing your business also means learning how to scale customer service operations in not only a sustainable manner, but in a way that ensures the quality of your customer service does not suffer in the process.
Most of us are familiar with McDonald’s initial expansion in the franchise world. Operations of the business scaled, however, the quality of the food, the service and ultimately, the brand, all suffered greatly. Only Ray Kroc’s key business decision to pause all growth and revoke franchisee licenses saved McDonald’s in these early growth stages. And it set McDonald’s back a significant amount of time.
The key factors in scaling a customer service team, whether it be remote or in the office, in retail or restaurants, in tech or anywhere else, are always the same.
1 – Responsibility
Every team member on your customer service team needs to be fully responsible for their interactions. That means they need to be able to make decisions and use their judgement on the fly, without having to rely on managerial intervention most of the time. We all use the word “empower” far too often, however the key factor in scaling a customer service team is to truly empower each member to make decisions on behalf of the business. Of course, you need guard rails to ensure nothing crazy happens, but hiring the right people solves this problem a lot easier than implementing process after process.
2 – Judgement
No one comes into a new position with the best judgement. It’s simply impossible. Most workplaces train you to be process focused. Even schools are heavily process focused. Understanding the evolution of judgement in your business and the people in it is critical to scaling a customer service team. People need to make mistakes, and be put into situations where they can feel free to make mistakes, and more importantly, be allowed to make decisions. In my experience, the best judgement only happens after you’ve made several mistakes in an environment that fosters and covers for them. Nearly all mistakes are recoverable, don’t be afraid to let people make them. Your team will improve their collective judgement in a whole host of situations if you let them think for themselves.
3 – Adaptability
Situations change fast. There are certain emergencies that will happen, without any way to have planned for them. Give your customer service team the ability to raise the flag, and escalate accordingly. The Customer Service team will almost always be the first ones to know or see a problem, either through customer reports, or their own usage. Listen to them, and then give them the ability to adapt to the situation at hand; the ability to modify the incoming flow of requests, automations, the notices customers see. A lot can be done by, and for, your customer service team to make these emergency situations much more manageable.
And finally…we come to Process.
All of this leads to having an extremely solid process based operation. However, don’t confuse process with red tape. Every business, every customer service team, should and does, require process. Process done in a good way clarifies a lot of things and gives people a framework to operate in. Process done well trust your customer service team on how to do something, rather than telling them what to do, as granularity can lead to major customer frustration or bottlenecks.
Like all businesses, we’ve learned these lessons the hard way, and I hope that by sharing these short tips, they’ll help you scale your customer service operation as you continue to grow your business.