Tackling the four key customer service pain points faced by fast-growing start-ups – Parham Saebi is Head of Client Relations, CRM Solutions at Arvato UK and Ireland
Delivering premium and consistent customer service has become a key competitive differentiator for businesses – findings from Forrester, a market research company, show that more than three quarters of UK adults say a positive experience is more important than the product.
For fast-growing start-ups, one of the key challenges to scaling their operations successfully is ensuring they can continue to provide an excellent customer service. Any fall in quality can have a significant impact on customer loyalty, which is then likely to have a negative knock-on effect on sales and stunt further growth.
To tackle this challenge, there are four key pain points that these firms will need to consider:
1. Building a team that can meet customer demand
The time that start-ups should spend on business-critical tasks, such as developing new products and services, is often lost on upscaling and upskilling customer service teams. The number of advisors required within a company can often multiply quickly – doubling the size of a customer base demands the same increase in customer service representatives to maintain service quality, according to recent figures from HubSpot.
However, a challenge also lies in ensuring these teams have the right capabilities. Robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) are already playing a key role in enabling firms to deliver the more responsive and personalised approach that customers demand. As the adoption of these technologies increases, the skill demands on employees will change.
Strong digital and communication expertise will be key, and because advisors will routinely deal with more complex enquiries, there will also be a greater emphasis placed on a more empathetic, problem-solving approach.
2. Handling sales peaks and troughs cost-effectively
In addition to the challenge of upscaling the size and skills of customer service teams, a growing customer base will also result in greater shifts in demand. For example, retailers that experience sharp sales increases during seasonal peaks or following new product launches need to recruit and train large numbers of temporary employees quickly. Together with the cost, this is a resource-draining process that can detract from business-critical work.
The solution for start-ups to address this lies in developing a customer service roadmap to sit alongside their business plan, which will include annual sales forecasts and timings for new product launches. By analysing this data alongside current customer service performance levels and processes, companies will able to proactively identify when and how to upscale customer service teams.
3. Differentiating the customer experience for each new territory
Together with variations in language, cultural nuances and regulations, start-ups must also alter their approach to meet different customer contact preferences when they expand into new markets. For example, our research shows that German and American customers favour voice-based interactions, whereas in the UK consumers would rather get in contact via email or through live chat. Customers in Japan prefer online self-service options.
How customer satisfaction is measured must also be differentiated by country as variations in how consumers rate customer service can often be stark. For example, those in northern European countries believe seven out of ten is a good score, whereas a similar rating from a customer in southern Europe could mean they were unhappy with the service they received.
Understanding consumer expectations and preferences is crucial and start-ups should look to collate and analyse data from each touchpoint to give them a 360-degree view of their customer base in each country. This will provide customer service teams with the insight they need to not only contact consumers using their preferred channels, but provide accurate, responsive and personalised experiences throughout the buyer journey.
4. Developing strong security protocols
Fast growth can quickly turn start-ups into a target for hackers and these businesses need to consider specific security needs as the amount of sensitive customer data they must store and handle increases.
Unless this information is well-managed and companies have the right security infrastructure and tracking software in place, breaches are possible either by hackers using sophisticated malware or imitating a member of staff to gain access to customer databases. These incidents can now result in significant fines, with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposing penalties for breaches of up to €20 million or four per cent of global turnover.
In addition to conducting regular audits to identify areas of vulnerability, businesses should ensure they have dedicated and isolated secure customer service infrastructure and put in place an information officer to oversee and control security processes and protocols.
Fast-growing start-ups often attribute their success to intuitively knowing what their customers want and, as such, customer experience forms an essential part of their DNA. Rapid success and expansion poses a new set of challenges in this respect, and companies must adopt a systematic approach to mapping out customer service operations if they are to continue delivering premium experiences.
Parham Saebi is Head of Client Relations, CRM Solutions at Arvato UK and Ireland
About Arvato CRM Solutions: We design, deliver and differentiate customer service on behalf of some of the world’s most respected brands.
Customer service is about technology, because constantly evolving technology is driving up customer expectations and has the power to simplify service delivery for our clients too. So naturally we support their customers and their need for competitive advantage.
Customer service demands experience, because service is one of our client’s most valuable brand assets and becoming ever more complex to deliver. Differentiated by our experience, we are global, have know-how across the customer journey and, backed by Bertelsmann, we take a long-term perspective. So we’re our clients’ partner for the duration.
Above all, customer service is about people, because service is a human thing even if it’s delivered by a robot. And it’s people that apply technology, draw on experience, and add value. Our enterprising spirit means we’re defined by our people, who deliver effectively in the face of the unpredictable, shape the future, drive global consistency as well as individual nuance.
Driven by technology and differentiated by experience, we ensure our clients perform. But powered by people we also help them to transform.
For additional information on Arvato CRM Solutions visit their Website