Learn to read the signs and scale for it early
Company growth yields many opportunities and challenges. Recognizing these challenges ahead of time, and scaling for them before you experience intense growth, can smooth out the bumps in the transition and keep your business on track.
At Zendesk, years of rapid growth have given us the opportunity to rethink and reorganize our customer service team several times over. Many of our customers are on the same trajectory and face similar issues. We’ve captured our learnings and best practices in one place, a new guide called Structuring Your Customer Service Organization.
Smart companies are always on the lookout for signs that their customer service team needs restructuring. This is particularly important for young companies that are experiencing change at a fast pace. How will you know it’s time to consider a customer service team reorg? An increase in business complexity or a dip in customer satisfaction are two of the biggest red flags, but there are others. You may also contemplate a reorg for customer service when less dramatic questions or concerns start bubbling up. (Especially when the same issue comes up again and again.)
Our experience has taught us to pay close attention to questions about agent satisfaction and agent retention. Such as, What’s the turnover among agents? Does the existing team structure provide them with a sense of job security and mobility? Your answers may indicate that your company is facing a critical tipping point and a new approach is warranted.
Intense focus customer service
Simply put, your customer service team is gold; treat them well and they’ll treat your customers well. If your team is no longer set up for success due to rapid growth or other shifts in your business, address these shortcomings quickly. If your agents are trying to cope with an overwhelming ticket queue volume, that’s another clear signal that it’s time to make some changes.
As noted in the Harvard Business Review, the biggest challenge facing a growing company is moving from a “reactive mode of supporting requests as they happen to the proactive mode of fixing issues before they ever become a problem.” This is what today’s savvy and tech-enabled customers require. It’s probably where your competition is headed, too. This reality helps frame the thinking around how your customer service team should be organized. If you can’t imagine how you’re going to get from Point A (reactive) to Point B (proactive) with the team and structure you’ve got, you’re overdue for some structural changes.
Taking a hard look at what issues your CS team faces in today’s customer-oriented environment will prompt new thinking—and many questions. How you answer may well indicate a growth tipping point. If “YES” is the only conceivable response to questions like, “Should I add a support team?”, “Is it time to add a new tier?” and “Should we triage tickets?”—congratulations, you’re growing. Zendesk’s been there, and we’ve got answers based on our own experiences building a zealously people-first approach to customer service.
In business as in life, growth means tackling ever-increasing complexity. Our advice? Think in terms of scale from the beginning. You may not always be small, and it’s much better to have planned for growth ahead of time. And, pay attention to the tea leaves. In other words, don’t wait until you’re under-performing to reevaluate how your customer service team is organized.