January 31, 2024

Scaling Your Customer Service Center For High Growth in Ecommerce

A guidebook for scaling a customer service center into a cornerstone of revenue


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Empowering Your Customer Service Heroes

For leaders at ecommerce companies, early conversations around your business’s growth have a lot to do with driving sales, pushing margins, and growing out your customer base to reach as many markets and demographics as possible. These efforts are driven by investments in essentials like convenience, marketing, customer acquisition, and product development.

As an ecommerce business grows, its revenue streams need to diversify and mature in order to avoid plateauing. To do so, consumer brands rely heavily on the opinions of their customers and need their service experience to lead the way in widening their growth opportunities from the baseline.

The importance of a sustainable customer experience can’t be underestimated. But, a strong team isn’t attained by just hiring more and more reps, who are the true heroes behind keeping a customer service system alive.

As ecommerce brands mature their operations, these heroes need to be able to handle higher volume and larger product catalogs, which means they need access to better technology.

These factors are the building blocks for scaling a customer service center, which enables an ecommerce company to grow quickly and confidently by leading with brand love as the north star. Understanding the roadmap of customer service maturity, how to set up your own company for the different stages, and the right tools are all essential first steps. Let’s take a look at those foundational pieces of growth and how you can build an environment for your heroes to succeed while driving revenue and sharing a positive sentiment for your brand.

Using a platform like Gladly, companies can create easier and more efficient methods, and provide more holistic ground-up training from the point of hiring.

The Key Stages of Customer Service Maturity

At the outset of scaling your customer service team, it’s important to have a long-term view of the different maturity stages. Over time, this appreciation for knowing how to realistically scale your customer service team will help your ecommerce company more tactfully respond to customers and better serve your shoppers without losing the personalized touch they’ve come to know and love.

Your organization’s size, tools, and approach at each phase will evolve as it starts to better reflect your specific audience and relationship with them. Meanwhile, the customer service team’s path to revenue can be divided into three key stages: pre-revenue, revenue-transition, and revenue-generation.

Pre-revenue Stage

Pre-revenue is the early stage of business, including those formative days when staffing constraints kept you from creating a truly robust staff.

This translates to few, sometimes just one or two, customer service heroes, or even just an employee or two playing dual roles, including responding to customer requests or inquiries.

In short, the early stage is about survival, and before your business grows and allows you to reinvest in your heroes, the goal is to cover as much of the support landscape as you can while laying the groundwork for future expansion.

From a customer access perspective, early stage companies tend to cast as wide a net 
 as possible. This is especially true, and even necessary, when your exact brand voice is still evolving and your customer base is still developing. Some brands have the ability to emerge a bit more fully formed thanks to previous experience or a mix of talent and luck. That being said, most are still providing as wide a range of access as possible, especially in regards to channels.

Revenue-transition Stage

Over time, your brand begins establishing itself in building a stable, consistent audience. During this transitory stage, your business gets some room to better identify your big moves toward high-quality customer service through higher revenues and intelligence on your audience. Consider this the bridge into the promised land of full maturity, wherein you’ll be taking the most impactful steps toward turning your heroes into a revenue-generating team that personifies customer service.

Here, your customer service team leaders and managers need to identify the most effective channels for your heroes to interact with customers. Less reliance on old-school or time consuming methods, like phone calls or video chat, is key.

Additionally, your service leaders should identify not just the types of technology you can use to improve your heroes’ arsenal, but also the correct level of reliance they should have on these platforms.

To give context, AI can be overused as a stopgap for self-service, and to stem the tide of tickets for younger pre-revenue stage customer service centers. Though meant to better serve customers, these short-term solutions are more frustrating and ineffective when not implemented properly. While this mature stage should incorporate AI in some way, it should be implemented to help guide intelligent self-service that empowers shoppers and can easily identify when to loop in a personal, human touch.

Revenue-generation Stage

After careful consideration, investment, and training, a post-revenue stage customer service center represents the ideal goal for an ecommerce brand. At this point, your customer service team has all the tools to generate revenue and drive value, through a number of the preordained factors that were laid out in the transition stage. Most significantly, your heroes are adept at driving customer lifetime value, are encouraged to upsell and cross-sell, and can create an experience so positive that it generates high referral rates.

The culmination of hard work and pinpoint focus on properly expanding your service center leads to a fully mature operation, one that enables and accelerates high growth for ecommerce businesses.

Within each stage, and in catalyzing these important transitions, comes many important steps decision-makers need to take in order to make this high-growth stage a reality.

Transitioning Between Stages of Maturity

Though having clarity about what each stage will look like is helpful as you move through 
 the support maturity process, it’s the execution itself that’s the most difficult. The more you can do to prepare and plan for transitions between stages, the better equipped you’ll be to ride the ebbs and flows while dealing with fast-paced growth in ecommerce.

Look back to the revenue-transition stage in the previous section. Rather than thinking about this stage as a stagnant time block, consider this particular phase as an ongoing process during which your approach to 
 scaling customer service stays in flux.

Overall, this means identifying what channels are the most effective for your heroes to use when dealing with high volume and managing ticketing increases.

Channels that are more reactive and time absorbing become less effective, including the aforementioned phone and video chat methods that suck up valuable hero attention. Instead, chat, SMS, and email allow a hero to easily track and respond to any and all customer requests, often at the same time, unlike those previous options.

But channel reevaluation alone can’t pave the way for true ecommerce growth. The fundamental reliance on ticketing in many customer service platforms shows an inability to create truly personal experiences. Conversely, cutting-edge and flexible customer service centers look at the customer experience through longer-term conversations with consumers.

Through an approach like the one provided by Gladly, heroes create a knowledge base of customer details that help inform shopping patterns, decision-making, and other hints of individual customer personality that your staff can react to and better serve.

Not only does this outlook streamline customer service, but it also benefits your heroes. Collating touchpoints into a single conversation that can be tracked and managed from a central interface reduces, if not totally eliminates, collisions between heroes, making their ability to serve customers easier and making the experience holistically superior.

Channel reevaluation alone can’t pave the way for true ecommerce growth.

Scaling a Customer Service Team for the Long-Term

With a deeper knowledge of the customer support landscape, the maturity stages, and the transitioning process throughout your customer service lifecycle, the next piece of the puzzle lies in the long-term tactics.

Scaling your ecommerce business takes a keen eye for not just nearsighted goals and profit margins, but a battleship-like approach to successful navigation during growth years and fluctuations in your business.

The cornerstone of future-proofing your customer service center is your staff itself, those heroes who are the boots on the ground solving shopper issues and creating a more complete relationship with your brand. The recurring goal should be to make their lives easier and their work more effective, thereby making the consumer’s experience equally as efficient.

To start looking at your service center through this long-term lens, your ecommerce business needs a transparent starting point that reflects its status quo. A clear business value assessment, a service Gladly provides for new companies we engage with, helps a brand articulate its current state of work and strategize for scalable growth.

This includes identifying the following:

  • Current number of heroes
  • Volume per hero (tickets, customers, or however your current system measures)
  • Hours logged per hero, and overall customer support team
  • Peak seasons for the contact center

In doing these assessments, businesses can generate the information needed to feed year over-year projections in growth and anticipate the volume they’ll need to handle as operations expand. This reveals where teams need to invest in more hiring, channel expansion, or technology to help heroes hold their own and succeed against the coming tides.

In making said investment decisions, be sure to hone in on the key aspects that make scaling a customer service team as easy as possible:

  • Reduce the amount of demand on your heroes — keep call and conversation times as low as possible whenever possible, and ensure an even and manageable volume is spread across heroes.
  • Make the work your heroes do more inherently efficient — allow heroes to quickly navigate and respond to customer conversations, address their workload simultaneously, and reduce collisions from repeated ticketing or a poor management system through more powerful tools and technology.
  • Make self-service intuitive and helpful for customers make a shopper’s ability to solve their own problems frustration-free using better-made help centers that respond to the most essential shopper questions and smarter chat systems with intelligently generated quick answers to cut down on response time.

These core tenets of a healthy, positive sentiment-inducing customer service center represent the goals that are consistent guiding principles for any stage in your maturity. The only aspects that change are how you address these recurring needs and how you create an environment for your heroes that’s more flexible in allowing them to handle and respond to customers the way they know best.

Have the Right Tools for Scaling Customer Service

In addition to the tactics that empower scalable, long-term growth, a solid customer service team is powerless without the right tools to enable a successful path to maturity. While your heroes possess the talent to handle and improve relationships individually, their ability gets kneecapped when the technology doesn’t keep pace with higher customer volume.

Keep in mind that technology is not just about “more,” but rather “better.” Companies can throw endless dollars away on various programs and software meant to better their customer experiences but will fail to provide something satisfactory if those tools aren’t used effectively, or even correctly.

Fast-growing ecommerce brands can become so focused on growing traditional customer numbers to drive sales that they’ll outsource the hard work of improving their heroes’ capabilities and training with cumbersome AI and chatbots.

These tools can certainly be helpful in streamlining the consumer journey and helping field a lot of upfront details on your heroes’ behalf. But rest assured, if you implement this technology just to act as a dam against your rising caseload, you’ll end up frustrating customers by de-personalizing the process and not addressing the root needs of your customer service itself.

Instead, think of the technology that can make significant impacts on your heroes, both immediately and in the long term as you implement the strategies outlined in your earlier assessment. Using a more sophisticated program naturally inclined to handle high-growth brands, like Gladly’s, puts powerful tools in place for each hero to succeed and create a superior service center from the ground up.

This improved technology doesn’t just use bots and chats, but instead a collaborative system that makes typical hero activities much easier along with onboarding new hires. Gladly streamlines personalized conversations, offers simple task management and collaboration tools, and even has the knowledge to help directly match heroes to customers in real-time for the optimal customer support experience.

A more robust approach to customer service tech doesn’t just make your staff’s lives easier, but it also gives them the power to take their work to the next level with revenue generation. By the time you’ve reached this stage of maturity, the investments you’ve made should already be showing benefits by empowering support heroes to constantly improve the customer experience, and drive value and revenue wherever possible.

But in a more direct sense, up-selling tools like direct payment acceptance through messaging channels turn each member of 
 your support staff into an active participant in growing your business.

With the right technological strategy, you can easily achieve the tactics and long-term planning you envision for your organization and turn a passive section of your company into a leading driver of your ecommerce business’s upward mobility.

Your customer service system needs to keep pace with your company’s growth as a whole, or you’ll create consequential gaps between the number of customers and the number of staff who can provide support. The right technology, long-term strategy, and backing of your heroes will ensure a future-proof approach to customer support maturity that sparks high levels of ecommerce growth.

Ready to Scale Your Support Center? Gladly Can Help

Gladly is a customer service platform that empowers companies to deliver a radically personal customer experience.

Unlike the legacy approach to customer service software which is designed around a ticket or case to enable workflows, Gladly helps agents work like heroes by helping them communicate with customers through one channel-independent, lifelong conversation. Because of this, Gladly is the number-one easiest-to-use customer service platform.

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