“Love thy customer”
This is a company value that we take very seriously. We always have. Right from the time we were working out of a tiny home office with less than 15 people, customer happiness has been one of the most important parameters we use to evaluate our performance and more importantly our growth. We’ve always constantly engaged with our customers, understood their needs and rated ourselves on how we were able to fulfill those needs.
At different stages of our business cycle, we’ve seen customer happiness differently. Here’s an account of our journey through these phases.
Phase 1: How we saw customer happiness initially
During our initial phases, each one of the founding members would take turns to man customer support at night. At this point, we were receiving a ton of calls between 3 and 4 AM from people who were just beginning to get acquainted with our product and what it had to offer.
As we grew, we realized we needed this was no way to scale. We then decided to have our customer happiness teamwork in shifts and provide our customers with 24×7 support.
After this initial phase, we decided to further evaluate the calls we were receiving at night. We wanted to ensure that we provided our customers with high-quality support without compromising our team’s efficiency and availability. Our evaluation showed we received calls from:
- People who noticed ‘24/7 support’ on our site and just wanted to check to see if we had a full-fledged support system.
- People who were trying to find different ways to use our product and stuck somewhere
- People who had signed up for a trial account and were interested in knowing more about our product
- And so-on!
Although all these queries were important, we noticed that 95% of the queries weren’t critical. They didn’t need to be answered in real-time and could potentially be answered the next morning.
And so, after a little back and forth, we moved to an 18/7 customer support model.
Phase 2: The 18/7 model
Our 18/7 model was marked by defining of clear SLAs to tell our customers how long we would take to resolve queries and writing a ton of support articles that would help them in our absence. But the real question is, how did we manage 24/7 availability with an 18/7 customer support?
24/7 availability without manual monitoring
Managing critical issues and downtimes
While our call support is not available 24/7, we understand that down-times and any critical issues need to be supported 24X7X365. Our automated call monitoring system keeps running in the background and raises an alert any time we experience a downtime. The alerts are then sent over emails and SMS to our engineering team members who then work on figuring the issue at hand.
Cloud telephony to handle non-critical issues
Although we moved to an 18/7 customer support model, we continued to receive calls after business hours. We, being one of the biggest users of Exotel ourselves, use our own product to offer our customers a pleasant experience.
Irrespective of the time that a customer calls in, they are greeted by an automated message that encourages them to leave their details and let them know that someone would get back in touch within 24 hours with an update on their concern. Of course, once the customer support team sees these calls, they reply within 4 hours maximum.
Doing this, helped us achieve:
- Customer satisfaction – Although we weren’t available for all 24 hours, the fact that our customers got clear timelines as to when they would receive help ensured our customers were happy. Customers receive a response within 4 hours thereby ensuring a seamless experience for them.
- Employee productivity – Since there were only 2 to 3 calls late at night, we decided to give our customers the option to leave a voice note. This helped us ensure our employees made efficient use of their time while also ensuring that the customer’s needs are catered within a specific time frame.
- Streamline processes – Using cloud telephony, we could now monitor exactly who called and when. This helped us not only understand how many calls we get at night but also helped our support team see who called so that they could call back instantly. We are now able to maintain quick turnaround times.
- Effective lead management – Now that we had a track of all the numbers that called us, we could ensure we never missed a potential lead. Calling back potential leads helped us capture leads while they were still interested. We are now able to make relevant conversations while the leads are hot.
With 24/7 customer support, there is no one size fits all. Each company has different requirements based on the business they’re in and the stage of the business they’re in. We’ve moved from having 24/7 support to not having it and eventually, with us now going international, we may even consider going back to 24/7 customer support again.
The best way to know if you need it or not is to assess your call volumes, assess the kind of callers you have, see the manpower you have available and measure the pros and cons of having 24/7 customer support. Cloud telephony gave us the ability and the flexibility to decide whether or not we should have 24/7 customer support, thereby helping us optimize and use our resources well at every stage in our business.