How to Start a Customer Support Department

September 9, 2023

If you’re reading this, congratulations, your business is growing! Unlike so many others out there, yours is making something that people want to buy. How do I know that? Because you’re exploring how to build out a customer support department.

And businesses that don’t have customers don’t need to worry about support.

Like Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams, you have built it, and they have come. But like the late, great Biggie Smalls once penned “Mo money, mo problems” and in your case sometimes mo customers means mo problems.

Unsatisfactory customer service costs businesses $338 BILLION in revenue every year. This is due largely to the fact that 58% of customers will NEVER do business with a company again after having a bad experience.

Not only do people stop doing business with you indefinitely, but 3/5 are likely to tell someone else about their inferior experience, now taking a potential new customer out of your sales funnel. If you’re tracking with me this far, then you understand that your business is at stake if you don’t nail the customer experience.

In a world where Apple and Amazon have set such a high bar for customers’ expectations, how can you implement customer support that meets your growing tribe of customers’ needs?

Let’s explore the 3 ways you can avoid failure and set your contact center up for success as your business expands:

  1. Start with the end in mind
  2. Identify your current needs
  3. Invest in your CEO

Start with the end in mind

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” -Lewis Carroll

It tends to hold that the longer out that we think, the better our decision making. If today you decide instead of eating a donut you’ll have oatmeal and a banana for breakfast your Summer beach body will thank you. Further out, your heart, when you’re 70, will thank you for not congesting it with food that can create blockages in your arteries.

As it is with your customer experience, you need a “North Star” goal for where you want to take the customer. If you’re struggling to figure this out, think about what your customers would want in an ideal world. If you don’t know, then ask. If they tell you everything is fine, then what would go above and beyond that satisfactory level of “fine?”

Apple didn’t become the world’s most valuable organization because they were satisfied with leaving the customer as “fine,” they created a customer experience that almost always leads to, “wow.”

Identify your current needs

Once you know where you want to go, you can more accurately assess where you are today. Like using the map at the mall, the “HERE YOU ARE” is only important once you’ve figured out where the store is that you’re trying to go to. However, looking at where you are today can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and disheartened by the long road ahead.

Remember the statistics I shared earlier? Let those serve as a reminder that your competition is also likely missing the mark, and that if you get a couple of very important things right, you can easily surpass them.

Ask yourself these diagnostic questions:

Where are my customers geographically and culturally?

How do they like to communicate with us?

What questions are more common than others?

How will my volume be affected during different times of the year?

What changes to our product or service have caused the customer the most problems?

This is not an exhaustive list of questions but rather a starting place to understand where you are at today.

Invest in your CEO

“There is only one boss. The customer. And they can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending their money elsewhere.” -Sam Walton

What Mr. Walmart is getting at is that your customer is ultimately the CEO of your company. I’ve spent enough time around CEO-types to know that they’re often a culmination of the people they surround themselves with. Just like a CEO would be very careful with the EA, or the COO that they hire, so should you be careful about who you hire and surround your customer (the real CEO) with.

When looking at your first couple of hires in your customer support department, it’s important to remember that this is an investment in your customer, and thus an investment in your business. This person or group of people will blaze the trails and set the precedent for what customer support will look like going forward in your company.

Don’t get caught up in their technical knowledge or educational background, look for people of solid character and good soft skills, like empathy.

Again, think about who you want tending to the needs of your CEO’s out there.

The future that awaits you

Once you know where you are today, where you’re going, and the kind of people you need to take you there, then all that’s left is implementation. Unfortunately, all the aforementioned planning can fail in execution. But your customers are counting on you to execute and you know what the statistics say about what’s at stake if you don’t.

The consequences if you succeed; however, are endless. At mindStart, we’ve guided scores of companies along the path towards exceptional customer support. The transformation is beautiful to watch as their businesses scale and their customer satisfaction grows in step.

The companies that adopt a customer-centric mindset, and implement the right tools to create an industry-leading support experience, blossom into unique and creative forces in the marketplace. They revolutionize the way we think about certain industries.

And maybe most importantly, they carry a tribe of advocates with them that are eager and willing to tell anyone they know about the brand they choose to associate with.

Invest in your customer support department and watch your field of dreams grow into a sea of brand advocates.