How to know when you’ve outgrown email.
As a small business just starting out, it makes sense to handle your customer support just using your email inbox.
It’s a good enough solution for starters, and when you’re in the early days of building your business, your efforts should be aimed at more important things than finding the perfect support solution right away.
However, just like every other area of your company, customer service keeps evolving and getting more complex, and your tools need to grow with your business.
The fact is that you can’t deliver great support with the wrong tool—and email will become the wrong tool for you eventually. That is, if it hasn’t already.
Today, we’re going to talk about 5 surefire signs that you’ve outgrown email and need to start thinking about upgrading to a specialized tool.
You Have More Than One Support Agent
When it’s just one person doing support, they don’t have to ask questions such as “Is anyone else handling this issue?” or “Did we ever get back to so-and-so?” because it’s just them.
However, as your support team grows, collaboration becomes crucial and how you approach it needs to be carefully planned.
As you hire more support reps, it starts getting harder to keep track of everything—which results in things falling through the cracks.
Collaboration is very tricky to manage with a shared email inbox, since:
- You’ll have no idea what someone is working on on any given time
- It’s hard to immediately tell whether an email is being handled or not
- Emails are pretty easy to lose or forget about
- Communicating within your team requires an endless chain of CCs and FWDs
This all means that your support team can’t play off each other with ease and things will start slipping real fast.
When your team grows, using email for support will start being more and more of a pain in the ass without a doubt, so keep that in mind before hiring and think about nipping the issue in the bud.
You Have More Than One “Mailbox”
If you’re just using one email for support and don’t have any other ways for your customers to contact you, then you’re pretty much safe.
However, as soon as you start adding new channels—not even necessarily straight up support channels, but places where customers can reach you (such as social media accounts)—you’ll be in trouble.
People can be funny when it comes to contacting support—even when there’s a specific support email provided, some customers prefer to reach out through social media, blog comments, emailing someone else on the team, etc.
The more places you need to check for possible customer communications, the easier it is to lose track of things—and losing track of support issues is a slippery slope to unhappy customers.
You Keep Answering the Same Questions
Having a great knowledge base with all of the frequently asked questions will definitely save you a lot of time.
However, even if you have that set up, all support teams eventually find themselves in a position where they have to keep answering the same questions, over and over again.
You can technically track these recurring issues in Google Docs or whichever other shared, third-party location, but it’s messy, and again—adds another unneeded link to the process.
Having a quick way to get back to the people with common issues can save your support reps tons of time—we’re talking about automation.
Most people assume that customer service automation is about replacing, or minimizing, human-to-human interaction. That’s not the goal of support automation at all.
Rather than wasting time typing the same reply over and over again (probably the single most time-sucking repetitive task that support professionals have to do), common (sometimes called “canned”) replies provided by most customer support help desks let you insert frequently used messages with a click.
Using the canned replies option in a dedicated help desk system will:
- Save you time (and time is valuable, especially in support)
- Let you continuously improve your answer
- Keep your team and their communication with customers consistent
Automating little things like this—something that dedicated help desks are designed to help with—is one of the 5 things to do to improve your customer support in under 10 minutes, and will save you tons of time and money in the long run.
Customer Satisfaction Is Down
The easiest way to know you have a real problem on your hands is when your customers keep telling you—whether straight up or through general customer satisfaction indicators.
Customer satisfaction is usually based on a short survey customers fill out, typically after a conversation or ticket is resolved.
Either way, at its core, it asks the customer to rate their experience on a scale ranging from good/great to bad.
Low customer satisfaction doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the fault of the tool you’re using, but if you’ve made sure that you’ve optimized your support team for productivity and hired the best possible people, the next thing you need to check is whether it actually is your inbox causing the issue.
If your scores are getting worse, the two things to do immediately are:
- Asking your customers why they’re giving you less than satisfactory ratings, and
- Seeing if these issues have anything to do with the support system you’re using (for example, if customers aren’t getting replies, are emails slipping through the cracks?)
All of the issues we mentioned in this post that come with using an email inbox for support (no assignment feature, easy to lose communication, reduced speed, etc) can really hit your customers hard, too.
So, when happiness is going down the drain, take a long, hard look at how you’re handling support and decide if that’s a contributing factor.
You Want to Start Looking at Metrics
We’ve talked a lot about customer support metrics and which ones you should measure on a regular basis.
Looking at your support numbers in depth is another thing that isn’t a first priority when you’ve just started out with your business.
However, it should be done sooner rather than later so you have an overview of how you’re really doing and can keep an eye on the standards you’ve set for your support.
The one thing email providers don’t have almost at all compared to customer support software is a really good look at your analytics.
With a help desk software such as Groove, you’ve got all of your metrics tracking and reports at hand at any time:
As your ticket volumes grow, eventually you’ll be ready to really take a good stab at improving the bottom line of your business via customer support—and that’s where email just won’t cut it anymore.
Graduate from Email When You’re Ready
As a small business just starting out, it makes sense to kick off your customer support on a free system such as a shared email inbox—and you might have stuck to it just because it’s easy.
However, with how competitive every market is getting, soon enough you can’t afford to settle for mediocre support and a team held back by insufficient tools.
If any of the above are signs or aspects that you’ve noticed in your own business, it’s time to upgrade, so you can start offering truly legendary support and make the absolute most of your efforts.
When did you realize you had outgrown email? Let us know in the comments!