Our customer support team has worn a number of hats down the years. We’ve been consultants for clients upgrading or adopting new products; we’ve scrambled to fix technical issues outside our own products; we’ve even traveled hundreds of miles to tackle things like school firewall issues. From time to time, we also managed to provide technical support for our own products 😉.
We’ve done all that and more because our customers are our partners. That’s the way we’ve seen it since the start. Whenever they needed our expertise to overcome a roadblock we’ve given it to them, knowing that when they grow, we grow.
During Learnosity’s early days, I made a conscious decision to build a team that would be comfortable with hat-swapping, easily switching between pre-sales and post-sales responsibilities."Our customers are our partners. Whenever they needed our expertise to overcome a roadblock we’ve given it to them, knowing that when they grow, we grow." Click To Tweet
As a smaller company, this was totally necessary. It gave us a natural gatekeeper against misselling or over-selling what Learnosity offered. Anyone involved in pre-sale technical support provided post-sale technical support too, since:
But that kind of above-and-beyond, one-to-one support becomes unsustainable down the line. As client numbers went up and we looked to expand the team by bringing in new hires, we realized the old way had gone from being a growth accelerator to a growth inhibitor.
For one thing, recruiting people who could easily switch between the two roles became nigh-on impossible. Even within the team, people were naturally leaning toward one role or the other for any number of reasons – personal and professional. It wasn’t impacting the quality of our day-to-day support, but we knew things had to change or it would only be a matter of time before it would.
As client numbers went up and we looked to expand the team by bringing in new hires, we realized the old way had gone from being a growth accelerator to a growth inhibitor.
We kicked off the discovery phase of the restructuring process by asking ourselves one question: “What does effective support look like for a company with 200+ clients?”
Given we had around 90 or so enterprise-size clients at the time, this helped us frame our thoughts around scalability over the longer term. It also opened up a broader conversation with key stakeholders from the technical and business sides of the company.
Those internal conversations helped us identify a few key goals to build our team structure around:
We were lucky to have a knowledgeable and conscientious group of people on the team who relished the chance to specialize in the areas they preferred.
Following multiple rounds of consultation, we decided that we needed to do two things to succeed:
First, we needed to split the customer support team into two separate but closely related functions: namely, pre-sale and post-sale technical support.
Second, we decided to break post-sales technical support into a geographically located, team-based structure to reduce bottlenecks in day-to-day decision making.
We were lucky to have a knowledgeable and conscientious group of people on the team who relished the chance to specialize in the areas they preferred. This helped us maintain the same customer-focused mentality we’d cultivated over the years, whereby we saw our success (both as a team and a company) and that of our customers as effectively two sides of the same coin.
When you work with that kind of mentality, your efforts are more likely to make your customers happy:
The implementation support team is amazing. Any time we ran into a snag, they found a way out for us.Mark Kaplan, BARBRI Director of IT.
Read the full case study here
Without having an effective way of tracking success, however, there’s no way of telling whether any team restructure is actually working. To make sure our team split was having the desired impact, we introduced a number of KPIs that would help us clearly measure the internal and external facets of the two functions.
To restructure our customer support effectively we had to anticipate where we’d be as a company based on our current trajectory. That doesn’t mean we’re now future-proof, but we’re confident we’ve laid the groundwork for growth while maintaining and even improving on the high-quality support we’ve always offered our customers.
Feature image courtesy of Jason Leung|Unsplash.