How To Scale Your Customer Service Without Losing That Human Touch
Growth. It’s what all businesses aspire to, whether large or small. And they face a myriad of challenges in achieving that growth. That includes staffing issues, access to stock, uncertainty around post-Brexit regulations, access to funding, and the digitalisation of resources.
But still the market – and businesses – continue to grow. However, even small growth brings a new challenge; how to scale up without losing the human touch your clients have come to expect.
If you’re a new business looking for your first clients, the following guide will provide a path to navigating growth while maintaining the human touch.
Customer service: The three options
Option #1 - In-house
Hire a team or do it yourself. This is the traditional route for many businesses. And in-house customer service teams come with plenty of advantages. They’re deeply embedded in your industry and your business. They can also make outbound calls and send emails.
However, this approach also comes with several limitations. For one, an in-house customer service team typically only works nine to five. That means anyone calling outside of office hours will end up going to voicemail. To avoid that, you’ll need to hire a team of in-house agents to work in shift patterns. The costs of running an entire team 24/7 from your office mean it’s prohibitively expensive to most small businesses.
And even if you do have a team to work around the clock, they’re still only able to answer one call at a time. That means during peak hours, some callers may have to wait long periods before receiving a response; a situation that becomes more likely as you grow. And 64% of those callers will hang up if left on hold for more than five minutes.
Finally, your in-house team is also entitled to sick days, holidays and other benefits which can quickly eat into your bottom line.Option #2 - AI
For anyone who has called a business only to be put on hold or forced to manoeuvre an automated checklist of options, this finding will come as no surprise. When contacting a company's service team, a whopping 78% of consumers want to speak to a real person.
So if you’re eyeing the cost-savings of automated support solutions, this might be a good time to pause on implementing that new chatbot system. After all, return on investment isn’t a short-term game. The cost could end up being far higher once you factor in the loss of new customers and a drop in customer satisfaction.
The real challenge of using AI in your customer service is transparency. As a small business, trust is currency with your customers. So if you do choose the AI chatbot route, be sure to be upfront with customers when they call. 84% said that companies should have to disclose if they’re using AI instead of real people in their customer service. Failure to heed that could damage trust, alienate customers and lose your business revenue.Option #3 - A virtual answering service
The primary purpose of a virtual answering servive, otherwise known as a virtual receptionist, is to answer inbound calls to a business. But virtual answering services today can manage a range of tasks, including:
Assisting callers with queries
Routing, transferring, and diverting calls
Answering customer service queries
The primary advantage of a virtual answering service over in-house hiring is its reliability. As it utilises a team of agents to answer 24/7, your customers will always receive a real response from a real person.
But virtual answering services also offer an essential benefit for small businesses; flexibility. Because you can upgrade and downgrade the service as and when needed – and because plans are based on the number of calls or minutes required in a given period – these services aren’t subject to the same limitations as hiring in-house.
Likewise, an answering service offers a significant financial advantage over hiring in-house when it comes to employee holidays, sick days, and other employer overheads.
Answering services plug the gap in a business’ workforce by giving them the power to provide 24/7 support. Where previously this level of customer service would be largely exclusive to big corporations, an answering service allows any business to offer consistent, professional service.
So which is the best option for you? There’s only one way to find out. Click the link below to book a free consultation with our team today.