3 Approaches to Expanding to 24-Hour Customer Service
Customer service that is available 24 hours a day is an exciting challenge to overcome. This often indicates that your firm is expanding or that you are acquiring new clients.
Scaling a team to this size requires consideration of several unique factors, ranging from cost and location to language and local consumer demands. The method you adopt should take into account the needs of your clients, the location or time of day when your load is growing the fastest, as well as your business objectives and expansion ambitions.
Choosing a plan for 24-hour support
Begin by gaining knowledge of your customers’ demands. Are you achieving your service level agreements (SLAs) or having difficulty meeting first response targets? Which channels do your consumers prefer to communicate with you? Are they less satisfied with service that is provided remotely or with service that is delayed? Is there a language or cultural barrier between you and your support team? These types of questions might assist you in determining the outcomes your consumers require.
Once you have a firm grasp of your customers’ requirements, select a technique for analysing your caseload growth. As an illustration, below is a chart illustrating case volume over a two-year period. As you can see, there is a noticeable increase in incoming cases from Year 1 to Year 2. This data can assist you in determining where to focus your support team expansion efforts in Year 3.
Assuming your team works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, this chart demonstrates a 50% year-over-year increase in load during those working hours. Take note that between 5 and 8 p.m., the load grows at a pace of 70%. And between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m., it grows at an 80 percent clip. As a rough approximation, this data indicates a greater growth in caseloads originating in Europe and the PST time zone. This information is critical as you develop a new plan.
Three approaches to implementing 24-hour customer service
Once you have a firm grasp on your consumers’ requirements and have identified the time periods or places that require the greatest attention, you can turn your attention to your business’s goals and expansion plans. Utilize those strategies to assist you in developing a strategy for providing 24-hour support to your consumers. Consider the following three strategies.
1. Increase the size of your co-located team
In-house strategies are typically employed when there is no precedence for remote personnel, the product/service is too complicated for remote employees to succeed, or the growth is driven by client needs rather than intentional sales territory expansion. Aaron Billings, Salesloft’s Client Support Manager, employed this technique. “Because our platform was new in Europe, there were additional issues,” Aaron explained. “And, because our support crew was unavailable during European business hours, our customers were left without platform support.”
Two approaches to resolving this issue are to have support representatives work shifts or to install an after-hours pager system. Both have a number of advantages, including reduced training time and shared resources and personnel. Additionally, co-location makes it easier to develop a company culture. However, as Aaron discovered when he implemented an in-office method, “the primary disadvantage was the effect it had on the agents.” They were quickly depleted. ” If team members can earn the same salary in a more desirable position within or outside your organisation, they may depart.
A frequently utilised alternative to having personnel physically present in an office 24 hours a day is to offer a pager service through which some or all customers have access to a person who is notified whenever an after-hours case is opened. Paging is advantageous during an expanding company’s transition phase, when the caseload does not necessitate a full-time in-office employee but some coverage is still required. This model often includes remuneration for being “on-call” in the form of a stipend and then hourly overtime pay if a ticket is opened.
2. Increase the number of people working remotely or in dispersed offices.
When determining whether to establish a remote workforce, one critical factor to consider is your company’s expansion goals. If your business has already identified a location for expansion, consider employing remote staff there first. If no plans exist, a remote employee approach is a viable choice. Either of these strategies can be employed when consumers require service in real time or in their native language.
According to Michael Redbord, HubSpot utilised this method and saw considerable benefits from hiring outside of the company’s headquarters: “We hired a pioneering team of four who created the region’s culture, pace of work, and customer tone.” These were critical hires. “The team might work during normal business hours and could assist you in becoming acquainted with local cultures and legislation.” As we transitioned to an international model, we made numerous errors and gained valuable knowledge. Employability rules in places such as Singapore, office and regional cultural variations, and the fact that, while local leadership is critical, they are extremely difficult to hire. ”
The distinction between local and remote leadership is critical. While remote leadership of employees enables you to concentrate on decision-making and develop a more collaborative global team, it can jeopardise the leader’s or team’s work-life balance. Meetings are frequently scheduled at awkward times, one-on-one conversations become increasingly difficult, and travel budgets are increased. Local leadership assists in removing those barriers, but it also raises the requirement for good communication amongst leaders, necessitates additional effort to ensure company culture is transmitted successfully, and can begin to erode morale due to a lack of inclusion. To succeed, remote employees must maintain contact with their in-house counterparts. Excluding people from projects, debates, and decisions will obstruct success. When done properly, Redbord notes, “foreign support is a catalyst for growth, and assisting our customers in their native language and culture is critical.” With a larger worldwide presence, we can hire better, faster, and more diversely. ”
3. Outsource or collaborate
External-hire techniques can be utilised to address a variety of company challenges, from cost reduction and scaling to geographical or language expansion. Outsourcing is also advantageous for staffing requirements that would be difficult to fill through a more traditional employment strategy. Charles Myers, now at Sprout Social, previously created a 24/7 outsourcer to add a seasonal scale model, expanding coverage x12 over a six-week window – something that would have been tough to execute internally.
These techniques might be as straightforward or as complex as your customers’ requirements dictate. The services offered range from providing a front-line triage team to resolving simple, documented situations and escalation to backline assistance as needed, to providing complete end-to-end customer care and cross-functional collaboration. While the services offered by each vendor will differ, Myers notes that outsourcing “provides a safety net for new/risky goods, is simple to launch, and carries a lesser risk to the business.”
While outsourcing is sometimes viewed as a cost-cutting solution, a partner strategy can also help you save money on infrastructure, hiring, and training. While these savings may appear to be a benefit, you should weigh them against your client experience when making a decision. According to Myers, outsourcing made it “difficult and expensive to regulate quality and hire truly passionately aligned personnel,” resulting in higher attrition than in-house, flexible teams.
Language difficulties, job model requirements, training, and the capacity to adopt your internal processes, tooling, conventions, and culture are all potential disadvantages of external tactics. These can be overcome with advance planning. Ascertain that your policy includes the following:
- Any potential SOC2, GDPR, or other legal considerations.
- Allowing external personnel access to the tools and resources they require while restricting access to sensitive data.
- A budget for onsite team visits, including technical and leadership, as well as considerations for swag and company culture.
- Adapting your training to meet the unique needs of a team that may lack resources or relationships with other members of your business.
To guarantee you get the best fit for your needs, always ensure you have specific requirements from both your organisation and your customers. Outsourcing and partnering each need unique considerations, but when done appropriately, can deliver significant value for the appropriate use cases.
How are you going to adopt a 24-hour customer service policy?
Seeing your firm thrive and increasing your offers broadens your organization’s variety, engagement, and excitement. Being a part of a company’s global or 24/7 expansion may be a good educational and demanding experience for both leaders and individual individuals.
All of the tactics outlined above can assist in addressing a range of company objectives and ensuring that your customers have an excellent customer experience regardless of the time of day or location. Additionally, the optimal solution may be a combination of techniques necessary to ensure your clients’ success. Vanessa Subramaniam, Support Manager at Points Travel, explains, “We chose a combination of in-office and outsourced shifts.” The outsourced staff handled front-line cases, while the in-office shifts were reserved for our escalation team, which possessed greater experience and access. ”
Whatever approach you choose, if you begin by listening to your clients’ requirements, doing data-driven caseload observations, and aligning all of this with your company’s expansion ambitions, you will have the information necessary to choose the most successful one.