When planning an expansion, many B2C businesses focus on growing revenue, building new offices, boosting recruitment, or introducing new products. They often overlook the unknowns that expansion can introduce into the customer service process, and assume that their current operations will scale seamlessly as customer bases grow. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case—and dropping the ball on customer service can spell disaster.
When customer service quality falls short—especially when it’s just as a business works through growing pains—customer bases shrink. A 2021 Coveo study found that 73% of consumers will stop patronizing a brand after three bad experiences. With numbers like that, businesses cannot leave their customer service growth to unknowns. Instead, they need to analyze their processes to get ahead of the pain points that come with growth. This information can help inform a strategic roadmap that sets out goals, measurable objectives, and requirements for their scaled-up service teams. That roadmap should also include plans for addressing common pain points customer service teams encounter during times of growth, like:
1. Navigating cultural differences.
Making the move into new markets is exciting for any business but it comes with challenges. Different regions have different preferences when it comes to service expectations and channels. Regional laws may alter the way the company conducts business. There also may be cultural and linguistic differences that lead to unexpected snags in previously well-planned service processes.
Put simply: If the expansion means serving customers from more diverse backgrounds—whether that’s within a new country or across the globe—customer service teams need to anticipate cultural differences that may affect service processes and take steps to address them before engaging with those new customer bases. Implementing a multi-lingual customer service strategy is an important first step.
2. Improving physical and data security.
Data breaches have made headlines across the globe over the past few years with companies of all sizes being affected. However, growing companies may need to work harder to mitigate the threat than they did when they were in their startup phases. Companies with higher profiles and more customers attract the attention of hackers looking for payouts or notoriety.
Businesses need to assess and implement cyber protocols to make sure they’re protecting customers’ personal information at scale.
3. Staffing appropriately.
Growth in service demand is exponential rather than linear. With more customers from different backgrounds, in different regions, or using different products come more diverse challenges. Tactics that worked when a company was serving 100 customers in the same region are unlikely to work when you’re serving 1,000 or 10,000 customers spread across the globe.
Reviewing expansion plans for changes or possible customer pain points can help companies understand which issues customers may face and scale service teams accordingly. If a leader finds that teams may need to grow beyond their recruitment capabilities, they may want to explore the idea of outsourcing service teams to specialized and experienced partners.
4. Handling customer service spikes.
Scaling staff isn’t just about long-term growth. Companies need to prepare for unexpected spikes to hit them harder than ever before to cope with exponential growth. Customer service teams should look back to identify any patterns related to when they’ve seen big spikes in the past, and ask themselves: How did wider business activity impact your customer services team’s volume? Did external events like weather or holidays play a role? Undertaking proactive analysis will allow leaders to plan ahead to have more staff ready should those circumstances arise again.
Of course, some spikes cannot be anticipated. Global disasters, legal decisions, and even viral videos referencing a company can cause customer service demand to skyrocket. Customer service teams should prepare plans for unexpected spikes before their businesses need them.
The solutions to the customer service obstacles a business encounters during growth will vary based on what the company does, how and where it operates, and the products and services it offers. The best way for business leaders to tackle customer service unknowns is to focus on what they do know. They can leverage their previous experiences as a guide to reflect on their current processes and to assess what has worked and what doesn’t. Once they do, the uncertainty will seem a little less daunting, and they can return their attention to what matters most: helping customers.