Increase your team’s productivity by working smarter, not harder.
As your business grows, you will have to start hiring at some point.
However, it doesn’t always have to be an immediate necessity.
Hiring is a long, complicated and sometimes seemingly overwhelming process. The day will come when you’ll have to do it, and that’s not a bad thing, nor is it something you should be scared of.
However, before making the massive decision to bring more people on board, you should first make sure you’re using your already existing resources as best as you can.
With the right mindset and smart moves, there’s a good chance you can actually push back the moment of having to grow your team without overworking your existing support agents.
The key is in the evergreen mindset of working smarter, not harder. Working harder and just ruthlessly pushing for more boxes ticked with no thought behind it will break your team and the people in it.
However, putting in the effort to figure out ways to use your existing resources more efficiently—working smarter—will not only save your support agents a bunch of extra time, but it will also make them be and feel more productive and fulfilled.
Today, we’re going to talk about five things you can immediately start doing to free up your existing support team’s time and energy for increased productivity.
Track the Issues Eating Up Your Time
Most companies have a small handful of recurring issues that make up a disproportionate number of incoming support requests.
Do you know what yours are? You should.
There are a ton of customer support metrics and variables worth measuring, and seeing which issues take up most of your support team’s time is the one that will help you save the most time.
Setting up a system to track support issues doesn’t have to be complicated—we use labels in Groove to categorize tickets by issue, which lets us see which ones are eating up most of our attention.
You can do this regardless of which tool you use for your support—whether it’s adding labels in help desk software or organizing emails into folders in Gmail.
The important part is getting an overview of which things are hogging your time so you can create a plan to fix it.
By fixing a couple of particularly prevalent bugs or clarifying some copy within your product that’s confusing people, you can eliminate a lot of constantly reappearing tickets, allowing your team to use that time to plough through more one-off issues.
Build a Knowledge Base (Or Make Yours Easier to Use)
Sometimes, the best customer support solution is the one that helps your customers help themselves by giving them access to immediate knowledge without requiring any personal assistance.
A self-serve knowledge base is also one of the most effective ways to quickly cut down on support tickets.
Building a knowledge base takes effort, but the payoff is definitely worth it. You’ll be two steps ahead of your customers’ issues, and the self-solvers out there will be thrilled to not have to go through a complex process to fix their problems.
Don’t have one yet? Fret not—we’ve written an entire guide on building your first knowledge base to help you get started.
Already have one? Awesome. Here’s the catch, though—just having a knowledge base isn’t enough.
In a survey by Coleman Parkes, an epic 91% of consumers said they would use a single, online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs.
Sounds great, right?
Well, here’s the problem: only 37 percent of respondents currently even bother trying to use self-service options, because they perceive them as inaccurate or incomplete.
It’s not enough for your knowledge base to be there. It has to be good.
To make sure that you have a knowledge base that customers actually want to use, make sure that you regularly:
- Update it with new features, and remove outdated info
- Add articles based on new questions that you’re seeing (again, labels to track tickets can be massively valuable here)
- Collect feedback from customers on whether your knowledge base articles are clear and easy to follow
Having a great knowledge base readily available will save you time and money on high-volume, simple questions, and make your customers and support team feel happier and more productive.
Make First Contact Resolution a Goal
Another huge black hole of time wasted for many support teams is unnecessary back-and-forth with customers.
That’s where first contact resolution—FCR—comes in.
FCR is resolving a customer’s issue in a single interaction, eliminating the need for them to contact you again about the issue.
For phone support, that means resolving the issue in a single phone call.
For email and social media support, that means resolving the issue in a single response.
For live chat support, that means resolving the issue in a single chat session.
Just keeping FCR in the back of your mind is great, but first contact resolution rate (FCRR) as a concrete metric should also be regularly measured and consciously improved on.
There’s simple formula to calculate your first contact resolution rate: simply divide the number of support issues resolved on first contact by the total number of FCR-eligible support issues:
FCR Rate = (number of support issues resolved on first contact) / (total number of FCR-eligible support issues).
FCR-eligible means that you shouldn’t include any cases that would be basically impossible to get first contact resolution on (for example, if the customer makes an error in their email to you).
FCR is also one of the few metrics that has been directly correlated to real customer satisfaction.
Service Quality Measurement Group’s data suggests that a 1 percent improvement in FCR yields a 1 percent improvement in customer satisfaction.
By lowering the average number of replies that get sent per ticket, you can dramatically reduce the load on your support mailbox.
We’ve written more in-depth about FCRR and how to improve it, so if you want to dig into the details of this magical metric, go check that post out.
Use Efficiency-boosting Tools
No matter the size of the company—everyone can always benefit from automating tedious customer support tasks.
But as your company grows, those benefits go from big to huge.
Here’s an example: if your three-person support team each spends four hours per week on repetitive tasks, then automating those tasks can save you 200 hours per year, per agent; that’s 600 extra hours per year of productivity for your company.
And as your team grows to, say, ten support agents, that number jumps to 2,000 hours saved every year.
By choosing an app (we prefer Groove …obviously) that includes built-in productivity features, you can save hundreds of hours each year.
Some of the most useful and time-salvaging features in any awesome help desk app include:
Rules and automation—for not having to manually process, sort and file each incoming ticket.
Collaboration tools like ticket assignments and private notes, which cut down on time and mental energy spent passing emails back and forth between the support team members.
Common replies, which keep you from having to type the same responses over and over again.
In a nutshell—good software should do work for you—take tasks off of your plate and make your team more productive.
Besides just squeezing out more productive time from your support team, this can also translate to many thousands of dollars of savings—dollars that you can apply to the not-so-cheap effort of scaling your business when it’s time for it.
Set Up Processes and Guidelines
Just like there are repetitive tasks, tickets and assignments, there are also customer support processes that stay pretty much the same over time.
You don’t have to go crazy and start creating a document about every single support process there is, but a few of the important ones that are especially useful to have on hand include:
- Email templates for difficult situations or key procedures such as onboarding
- A customer support style guide
- Key customer support metrics you’ve decided to measure
- A customer service glossary
- Your company culture and values
…and whatever else you find important to have explained, written down and readily available.
Agreeing on and writing down these foundational processes and/or guidelines will help you in two main ways:
- The documents serve as an easily accessible reminder or reference that eliminates the need to constantly check twice with your team members to make sure you’re on the same page—kind of like an internal knowledge base.
- When you do eventually start growing your support team, you’ll save time on explaining all these procedures to new team members—they can just get themselves up to speed by reading and then asking relevant questions.
Increase Your Support Team’s Capability by Working Smarter
Mindlessly pushing for more work done in a team consisting of the same amount of people as before won’t benefit anyone.
However, that doesn’t mean that you need to jump straight to bringing new people on board—sometimes it’s just a matter of finding a way to use the resources you already have in a better way.
What are your favorite smart moves to save time and get more done with a lean support team? Let us know in the comments!