Customer operations: support your support for happy customers
Customer operations are not a new trend. For the past few years, we’ve been hearing about the shift towards customer-centricity. Companies are now more focused on understanding customers and meeting their needs and expectations.
Many businesses have realized that keeping a customer happy is just as important as getting them in the door in the first place. They are what keeps the lights on and the doors open — without them, there isn’t much of a reason for having a business. What good are customers if they don’t come back though?
To build a business, you need customer loyalty. For the latter to happen, you need a team of customer service agents who can hold the frontline day and night, tending to the needs and concerns of your customers.
But what if your agents constantly get distracted on spreadsheets and arguments about how to manage a specific case?
Empowered and enabled agents is the answer here, this is what makes successful customer operations.
What is customer operations?
Customer service operations management is an umbrella term that encompasses all the activities and processes a company uses to support its customers, from their first point of contact with the company—be it an advertisement, website visit, or Google search—to their last.
Customer operations teams are responsible for making sure the customer and prospect experience is seamless and satisfying throughout the customer journey. They often work very closely with marketing, analytics, sales, and customer service teams to develop strategies and tactics to engage current customers as well as attract potential new ones.
The main objective of any customer operations team is simple: turn every interaction between a customer or prospect and the brand into a positive one.
Why are customer operations important?
Let’s back up for a second.
Why are customer success operations important?
Because they represent the direct relationship between your product and its users. Customer operations are often the first contact point when things go wrong and can be a valuable resource for learning how to improve your product or service. When done right, customer success is what keeps customers coming back to your business.
Given that five out of six customers will choose a competitor if another company offers better customer service, it’s safe to say that taking care of customers is pretty important.
The benefits of investing in those relationships go beyond simply retaining customers, though — they are also an opportunity to stand out from the competition.
A well-oiled support team will help you build a better business by providing timely feedback on user experience and giving you valuable insights into new ways to use your product or where improvements can be made. Customer support may seem like an afterthought at times but it actually plays an integral role in building good products with happy users!
What is the difference between customer service and operations?
In the early days of your business, it’s likely that you’re the one single-handedly handling all customer requests. Fast forward a few years (and a few thousand customers), and your overflowing email inbox is no longer practical to manage.
At this point, many businesses move away from email communication and instead leverage tools like email@example.com or Intercom, which provide faster response times and a more user-friendly interface for agents to respond to customers in an organized way.
With the evolution of these tools, many companies build out dedicated customer service teams to handle incoming inquiries, oftentimes hiring remote customer agents that are trained on how to handle requests within specific business rules. This is what most people commonly refer to as “customer support” — but there’s actually more than meets the eye!
While customer service is often seen as the team that handles incoming requests from customers – technically speaking, customer support operations is responsible for developing processes, tools, and systems that drive better experiences for both agents AND customers.
And unlike traditional “frontline customer service roles (which focus on responding to individual requests), customer operations roles tend to be more senior – requiring heavy analytical thinking and cross-functional collaboration with other departments across the organization (e.g., marketing).
How to improve customer operations management?
Customer support is a crucial part of any successful business. It can be the backbone that keeps everything running smoothly and retains your customers, especially when problems arise.
Empowering customer service agents individually is important, but you also need to empower the whole team, as a collective, so they don’t have to work in their own bubbles. And there is a simple explanation to why this is so important.
72% of consumers say that when they have to explain their issue to multiple people — that’s poor customer service, Zendesk found. Your team, therefore, needs to be able to handle a request upon first contact, without throwing the customer’s call around like a hot potato.
But if you’re not managing your customer operations well, or you don’t have a process in place to manage them well, it’s easy to lose sight of your customer service goals and make mistakes. So how do you improve operations management in customer service?
Here are some things you should think about:
Improve your knowledge base
Whether you’re using a support ticket system or just email, if your team is frequently answering the same questions over and over again, there’s an opportunity to boost efficiency by assembling a knowledge base that’s easily accessible for customers and employees.
Focus on customer success
Hire right — if a company hires people who genuinely care about their customers’ success and happiness, they’ll be more likely to provide great service than someone who just wants to make her quota for the day.
If one of your goals as a business is to create loyal customers, consider hiring for empathy, not just for skills; it’s better to hire someone with great communication skills and a friendly demeanor who knows less about your product, than someone who knows everything but isn’t actively invested in good service.
Have an effective process in place
Every company should have a solid process behind its approach toward a customer operations strategy— even if it’s not written down anywhere, it still exists!
Make sure the way you’re operating is working best for both your customers (in terms of quality of support) and your team (in terms of time spent).
A typical customer operations meaning usually presupposes that you fine-tune processes like quality assurance, performance management, coaching, and reporting so your agents can focus on doing what matters most — caring for the customers and holding the frontline. You need to establish effective customer service processes and customize a toolbox for them to rely on when tending to the needs of your customers.
The right software makes it easy to track responses and escalate issues when necessary; this frees up employees to focus on resolving problems rather than creating reports or updating spreadsheets about how many tickets were closed each week.
Help customers help themselves
The goal isn’t always resolution—it can also be making sure customers know how they can resolve their issues themselves through documentation, FAQ pages on websites etc., which will save time and energy both now and into the future.
If there is one greatest enemy to great customer service it would have to be waiting. Everybody hates waiting, especially when you have a pressing matter to resolve. This is why enabling customers to have their problems fixed in the easiest and quickest way possible is what you should be striving for.
After all, customer operations is the anchor that holds everything together.
The quality of customer operations — and all the processes and systems that support it—will either empower your team and enable a good experience for your customers, or it will lead to inefficiencies, missed or late support, or cause customers to churn.
No matter how far you get along the customer operations continuum, it always starts and ends with an attitude. If you have an open mind, a healthy curiosity, and a little excitement for what’s next, you’re already off to quite a strong start.
But knowing how to effectively measure and scale customer support will help ensure your business always enjoys a high level of customer satisfaction.
See how Kaizo can help you on the journey!