Mo McKibbin and I discuss whether it’s better for a support team to fragment internally to scale, or it’s better to limit scope and move responsibilities to other teams.
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Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello, and welcome to Episode 114 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. The theme for this week is the scope of support. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. I’d like to welcome back today Mo McKibbin, Mo. It’s lovely to have you back. Today you’re joining me to talk about the scope of your support team. I think the scope of a support teams kind of a journey as well, isn’t it? So, so So where do we start with this?
Mo McKibbin 0:49
Yeah, absolutely. Um, the scope of a support team is quite a journey and it definitely is something that changes depending on the size of the company and the stage of the company. And the customer base and all those things, I am been fortunate enough to have a lot of experience with smaller companies that have grown into larger companies. So I have, especially with help scout I have been able to see kind of how the scope of what is captured under the support umbrella has changed from like a teeny tiny team to like, you know, up to a much larger company, and what are some of those initial like those are that the support team hold and how the scope of what support entails changes over time?
Charlotte Ward 1:36
Yeah, it really evolves and I think you touched on a couple of things there right one is the supporting scale, the scope grows because you have you have more resources available in every manner you have more people you have more skills you have hopefully more money and and you can do do more with that. On the other hand, as you grow, you can see this fragmentation as well Can’t you what you just talked about is responsibilities might move out to other departments or certainly fragmenting within the team as maybe as you create specialisms or whatever. Do you think there’s a right or wrong way to go?
Mo McKibbin 2:10
Oh, that’s a really interesting question. Um, so I do, I do think that there is a right and wrong way to go. But the wrong way to go is just thinking that there is a ready built support playbook because something may be worked at one company, it really does not necessarily mean that it’s going to work at another company. So we already talked about how the scope of support really kind of changes and evolves with, you know, the size and stage of the company and in the beginning stages of any support team. You know, the scope can be everything from like product management, Product Marketing, to sales to all of these things. I think another thing that when we talk about the scope of support, a lot of times we talk about what channels are support responsible for delivering on and so when you are a small team with smaller resources, you really need to like focus that intentionality. And so you should always start with a baseline of knowledge, base, and email. And then as far as what the other channels that you bring in, that’s gonna depend a lot on who your customer is if and also what your product is, if your customer base is used to a very, very high touch support, that is going to change and inform what channels you deliver support for. If your customer base is high volume direct to consumer, you might actually that’s when you might care about social support, like Facebook support, Twitter support, Instagram support. And so in terms of what is what a support team should be responsible in terms of covering, it really should kind of be a strategic decision based off of what stage and size you are right now. And then once you start to expand on that and grow on that, it should really be like, how can I help customers and the way they want to be helped? Sometimes people think what being great responsive customer support is is offering all of the channels. But really an underutilised or unutilized channel from your customer base and can be way to cause a way worse experience for the customer. First of all that’s using that channel because you know, if it’s something that you only get, like one tweet that comes in every, you know, 10 years, it probably is quickly going to be the one that thing that’s not really highly monitored. If you have if you have like a phone like so, for example, a lot of people think about this in terms of like incoming phone support and incoming phone support can be really, really challenging to manage if it’s not something that is Write for your product and your customer base. So if you have a very highly technical product, and you’re typically really deep diving into code and reproducing bugs and going through all of this, like nitty gritty technical information on having a high inbound phone system on is not only going to burn out your team, very kind of stressful situation to handle a phone in, but it’s also not going to be a great experience for your customers because your customers are going to get frustrated that they call the anticipation is that they’re going to call you know, find out what’s wrong, and then have a fix. That’s that’s the anticipation when you call someone, um, if you have sort of a tiered system of, you know, like a technical process, a triage process things where you have to go back and forth with your engineers. You really just kind of almost become this in takes us them like, I’ll take your ticket, please. Yeah, yeah, switchboard operator, um, in which case customers then are frustrated because they don’t get what they needed getting, you know, reaching your support by phone. And
Charlotte Ward 6:15
I think this I think this feeds back really nicely to something that you said a few minutes back mostly I’ve worked for really highly technical products with highly technical teams, exactly what you were just describing. And quite often the simple metric, the simple thing that’s thrown out, for instance, an argument for phone support, is that it reduces the to and fro because you can answer those questions real time. But actually, just the number of interactions that you have on a ticket isn’t a good reason for phone support is about what those interactions are and about looking at that very holistically. And that’s, that’s, I think, just like a real good example of why one size doesn’t fit all,
Mo McKibbin 6:58
yes, and actually and so on. There is a way that you can deliver that sort of that sort of help. And if you’re thinking about your channels and how you offer them strategically for your customer, you can always offer to schedule a call or a screen share where you can just walk through, you know the situation with the customer. So it’s not like an all or nothing like it’s not like an all or nothing situation like you can still open up that sort of support to your customers without necessarily having it just be like inbound phone support. On the flip side of that, like so speaking to how you have to meet customers the way that they want to be helped and so I currently work for a product that is literally our customer bases are Hollywood movie producers, like Hollywood, our customer bases like I can’t be very specific, but let’s just say we have a very big hustled name and the Hollywood and entertainment industry culture is very pick up the phone, it’s a pick up the phone culture where it’s like if there’s a problem, we are, you know, we’re on set, something’s breaking down, I want to call someone and figure out exactly what the deal is. So for us phone support was non negotiable because this was like an expectation of our customer base and an expectation based off of what was set by others in the market that offer the same help. So not having that was so but on the flip side of that, I don’t think our customers would use chat at all, like I say, I think I think they would be quicker to use text messaging. And so like, that’s a way to think strategically think about like, Oh, well, if we have something where someone’s on on onset, they don’t want to pick up the phone but they do want something chat like like Okay, so now I start thinking about text message support, you have to think about who your customer is, what channels they use, and and what your product is and That, if you think about that strategically, that’s going to help you figure out what the right channels are.
Charlotte Ward 9:06
Yes, thinking about that whole customer context and the typical behaviours, as you said, and I think that’s a really interesting final point. It’s looking at what your competitors are doing and what those expectations are because, frankly, you probably only need to meet those you don’t need to go above and beyond to exceed those. You don’t need to, to layer on you just you just need to do it well in the accepted space. That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/114 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.
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