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Startup & Scale-Up

Scaling Startup CX: Best Practices to Manage HyperGrowth Customer Service

Your Guide To Managing HyperGrowth CX, at Scale

You took an idea and turned it into a business. Now, revenues and your customer base are rapidly increasing. This development is exciting, but it’s also overwhelming -- as a business grows, so do customer’s expectations for a top-notch experience. It's time to scale your startup CX.

Customer experience can make or break the continued growth of your business. A Forbes Insight Report found 83% of executives face moderate to severe risks in market share because of failure to improve CX.

Though surges in business can strain staff and other resources, the customer isn’t going to care. It’s pivotal that these growing pains don’t disrupt the way your brand engages with customers on any channel, at any time.

It’s possible to scale startup CX and exceed customer expectations by consistently delivering positive service and support across touchpoints. This guide will show you how.

The Difference Between Growth and Scaling

People often use growing and scaling interchangeably, but they are distinct. 

Growing occurs when a company invests in human capital and technology and to increase profits.

Hypergrowth happens when a business’ compound annual growth rate (CAGR) surpasses 40%.

Scaling is when a company experiences an uptick in revenue without making much of an investment. Automation technologies are often critical to successful scaling strategies, but companies cannot forget about the human element involved in providing positive customer service.

Pain Points When Scaling Startup CX

Scaling your startup is both an exciting and challenging task, and CX leaders are pivotal players in the process. They’ll often have to work through common issues, including:

  • More data to analyze. As your consumer base and revenues grow, the amount of insights you need to pour through to monitor customer satisfaction, churn, acquisition, and more will too. CRMs can help manage customer flows and interactions.
  • Increased CX volume. More customers will mean more support needs, and customers will want support when it’s most convenient for them. ChatBots can help alleviate some of the strain caused by this pain point, but Accenture research found that the majority of customers still prefer human interaction.
  • Scaling partner growing pains. A scaling partner, or an industry expert, can guide your scaling strategy, funding, and more. But sometimes, the partner who took you from the founding stage to the mid-stage isn’t the one best suited for taking you to the next level.
  • Scaling in-house CX recruitment. Early in the company’s lifecycle, you may have been able to interact with and monitor agents closely. As the company scales, so will the list of items on a CX leader’s agenda, from omnichannel strategies to digital migrations and filling gaps in customer service. Not to mention, the recruitment burden on the company will increase exponentially. CX executives need to resist the temptation to micromanage and adapt their leadership style to the company’s growing needs by empowering and trusting their agents, often by leveraging a CX outsourcer. 
  • Channel management. As your revenue and customer base grows, so too will the number of support requests. And they won’t be coming in from one channel. In today’s multi-channel, omnichannel world, you’ll be receiving them via email, phone, social media, ChatBot, and more. It can become overwhelming to have to manage multiple support channels that are flooded with requests, ensuring that each customer receives first-class service each time. 

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How to Scale Your Startup CX Operations

Customer service is essential to the customer experience — 90% of Americans say customer service is a deciding factor in whether or not they’ll do business with a brand, according to Microsoft research. Here’s how to navigate scaling your customer experience along with your company.

Strategize and Remain Disciplined

Scaling can feel like a fast-paced process. But it’s important to step back and look at the big picture and long-term goals, even when short-term needs feel overwhelming. Defining goals gives everyone a clear picture of what the company is working towards and how the customer experience fits into these goals. Outlining strategies and goals can also empower CX leaders to push back on internal requests that don’t tie back into the company’s objectives, allowing them to focus on measures that will enhance customer service.

Here’s what startup CX leaders need to think about when they define their strategies:

  • Tap into customer insights. Data is akin to having a conversation with a customer. It provides insight into what they like – and don’t like — about interactions with your brand and reveals opportunities for improvement. What does success look like? Choose KPIs that will measure these benchmarks, like CSAT, DSAT, churn rate, NPS, resolution time, and more. 
  • Don’t get bogged down in numbers. As vital as data is, there’s such a thing as too much of it. Tracking every single metric can be time-consuming and distracting. Pick the CX and service metrics that best align with your startup’s scaling goals and report on those.   
  • Develop customer personas and map your customer journeys. To provide customers with optimal service, you need to know them. Using the data insights you’ve collected, create personas that define who your customers are, what they care about, and how they’re engaging with your brand. CX leaders want to keep this data-driven. Look at analytics, demographics, common requests, and insights gleaned from surveys and calculations of items like NPS scores to develop these personas.

Build Customer Journey Maps

In order to build a scalable startup CX program that effectively meets customer needs as you grow, you’ll have to understand exactly what their journey looks like with your brand, from end-to-end. By putting together a journey map, you’ll be able to visualize every touchpoint a customer may have -- whether they are a new customer just learning about your brand, or a repeat customer. 

Customer journey maps give CX leaders a clear view of the end-to-end journey of a customer’s experience with your brand. It helps leaders and teams see each touchpoint new and existing customers have with a brand and can reveal points of friction, such as unfulfilled customer support requests or having to click around too much to find a support phone number. When brands pair these maps with real CX data, they can improve upon these points of friction and create a more seamless journey. 

A Unified Omnichannel Approach

Part of the reason efficient and effective training is so vital to CX is because it supports a unified omnichannel strategy that fuels customer retention and growth. Businesses with omni-channel strategies achieve 91% more year-on-year customer retention rates, according to a survey by Aspect Software

It’s essential to streamline engagement platforms to create a more intuitive customer experience. It should be as easy to interact with or click away from a ChatBot as it is to interact with an agent by phone or live chat. This strategy meets the customer where they are and puts them in control of their preferred channel. 

When creating this strategy, it’s important to strike the right balance between human and automatic support. Statistics show 34% are comfortable interacting with a ChatBot. But PWC research indicates 82% of U.S. consumers and 74% of non-U.S. consumers prefer more human interaction in the future. Automation is a key to scaling. Having it as a first touchpoint, and ensuring ChatBots and digital customer self-service guides are informative and in your brand’s tone and voice are essential. But if the customer wants or needs to interact with an agent, they should also find that service efficient, available 24/7/365, and useful in helping find a solution. 

Outsourced companies often have a greater capability to staff support centers that can be available to customers at all hours the day, shoring up brands’ needs for a unified customer experience across channels.

Effective High-Volume, High-Talent Agent Recruitment

At some point, you’ll need to add support and service agents to effectively manage and exceed customer expectations. More agents supporting customers prevents any service requests from falling through the cracks  on any channel. Two cost-effective ways to add agents are outsourced and captive contact centers.

Agents in captive contact centers are employed by your brand and often work in onshore, off-shore, or near-shore locations. Because these agents work directly for your company, CX leaders may feel they have more organizational control and can gain buy-in for customer service standards more efficiently. But they require you to hire the agents yourself, which means pouring over hundreds of resumes, organizing interviews, and hiring each one individually. It’s an investment of time — often months — that you may not have. The agents may be new to CX and need more training not only about your brand’s experience and journey but day-to-day operations of customer service.

Outsourced Centers allow CX leaders to hire one company and let them hire the agents. The agents will be employed by a third party. But the third party specializes in customer service and support and tapped into networks that help them find experienced agents quickly, cutting down on the length of the hiring process and training.

You’ll want to thoroughly vet agents and potential CX partners, though. During the vetting process, ask about: 

  • Familiarity supporting customers in your specific sector 
  • Support volumes they’ve managed 
  • Experience with technologies, like AI and ticketing systems
  • What KPIs they use to evaluate success. 

Immersive, Fast Training

Whether you’re handling the hiring of each agent or outsourcing it, you’ll need to get new teammates up to speed on customer service expectations quickly to keep up with escalating demands. A thorough, efficient, and effective onboarding is vital to continued startup CX success.

Your customer should feel like they are interacting with the same trusted friend every time they engage with your brand. To ensure this happens, new agents must be on the same page with veteran CX team members. 

  • Ensure they have and are trained on all equipment, such as email ticketing systems, they’ll need to provide your customers with the best experience 
  • Run thorough tutorials and scripting training sessions to streamline customer interactions. These sessions should include clear direction on brand guidelines, including a tone, voice, and feel to be used across all touchpoints
  • Provide troubleshooting and role playing opportunities on common issues and solutions 
  • Build Training Simulators to create real-world support experiences without suffering real-world consequences

Track Performance

Rewarding good CX performance and identifying areas for improvement can help bolster customer satisfaction and loyalty. Get granular by tracking an agent’s performance against key KPIs. Highlight places where agents are excelling, implement coaching and training programs for continuous improvement. There are tools available to help track performance and motivate agent performance by gamifying the agent experience and performance-based incentives. Invest in tools that will help to strengthen and empower your agents, in turn improving your entire program -- and its ROI.

Take a Proactive, Automation-Driven Approach

Customers expect a positive experience 24/7/365. The global economy is always on, particularly with digital advances. Though human interaction is still largely preferred, brands can utilize technology as the first touchpoint for customer service. 

Customers can utilize self-service options, such as FAQs or troubleshooting guides on your brand’s website, or engage with an AI-driven ChatBot. Drift research found usage of ChatBots has increased 92% since 2019. 

With more brands turning to them, yours must differentiate itself from the crowded field, particularly as you scale a startup. The key is to create a seamless omnichannel experience for your customer across touchpoints. Service shouldn’t feel fragmented, even if they’re engaging with a website or bot instead of a human agent.

However, Gartner research predicts at least half of brands will not have accomplished this goal by 2022. Employ these strategies so your brand can leverage a consistently second-to-none omnichannel CX strategy:

  • Incorporate human elements into technology. Bots have become more nuanced. Advanced ones can use empathetic, human-sounding language that makes the conversation feel more authentic and on-brand. 
  • Be helpful. The goal is to empower customers to solve the issue themselves when possible. This process should be straightforward and streamlined. Guides and bots should provide clear, concise, and accurate information. 
  • Make human customer service easy to get. Not all issues can be solved through guides and bots. In these cases, it’s essential for the touchpoint to have clear and easy-to-find information for a phone number where a customer can reach a human agent.

Outsource Your CX

Outsourcing can be a way to cut costs, save time, and focus your energy on high-level tasks. By leveraging a trusted CX partner, you are tapping expert resources equipped with the latest CX technologies to optimize your startup's CX program and drive more positive outcomes. You’re also freeing up time to focus on your core business, while mitigating risks and costs associated with keeping CX in-house, which allows you to scale more quickly.

 

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Conclusion

Hypergrowth is exciting and overwhelming, and it’s essential the customer doesn’t catch wind of the latter. Companies must scale their startup CX operations to meet the customer’s growing demands and set teams up for success. In truth, every department should feel that they are tasked with providing a top-notch customer experience. Siloes should not exist as you scale a startup (or after). Data transparency and having key information in one place can help achieve this goal. Balancing the desire for human interaction with the benefits of automation can also allow brands to differentiate themselves from the competition as they scale. When a customer must speak with a human, it’s essential they receive stellar service. Training and continuously developing individuals will empower them to go all out for customers. When you follow the best practices in this guide, your startup CX will have longevity.


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