The Complete Guide to 24/7 Support
Scaling your team to provide assistance around the clock might sound like a mammoth task. However, with a step-by-step guide, you can incorporate a 24/7 support model in no time. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on setting up 24/7 customer service. In this guide, we cover:
- What exactly does 24/7 support mean?
- How do you know if you need to provide 24/7 support?
- What are the benefits of providing customer service around the clock?
- How to provide 24/7 customer support
- How to optimize support operations to provide 24/7 customer service efficiently
- Best practices to follow if you don’t offer 24/7 support
24/7 support (also popularly known as 24/7 customer service or 24/7 tech support) is a customer service strategy that involves providing support 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week. In other words, a 24/7 support model ensures that a customer is able to get their issue resolved no matter what day or time it is.
How Do You Know if Your Business Needs to Provide 24/7 Support?
For some businesses, offering 24/7 support is necessary. For the others, it’s a decision made based on growth or customer demands.
If you’re wondering if you should offer to support around the clock, here are you questions that can help you decide –
– Do you have a customer base that is spread across different geographies or time-zones?
When you have a global customer base, it’s important to take the difference in time-zones into consideration. When you don’t account for this, your customers might end up getting delayed resolutions.
– Does your business belong to an industry that needs to offer 24/7 customer service? Businesses such as travel, healthcare, and finance have critical situations that need to be tended to immediately. If your business falls in one of these categories, then it’s imperative for you to offer 24/7 support.
Why Is 24/7 Support Important for Businesses?
Apart from meeting customer and industry requirements to deliver satisfactory experiences, the benefits of providing support around the clock also impact important customer service and business KPIs –
i) Reduces wait times: Customers today do not like waiting to get assistance. In fact, a survey conducted by McKinsey revealed that seventy-five percent of customers online still demand help in 5 minutes or less2. Offering assistance around the clock goes a long way in maintaining a good first-response rate and reducing the overall wait times across channels.
ii) Increases customer loyalty: Being available to offer assistance 24/7 demonstrates that you truly care about your customers, and also that you prioritize their needs. This also helps your customers gain trust, and anchor their loyalty in your brand.
51% of customers want businesses to be available 24/71.
iii) Reduces the customer effort score (CES): When you aren’t accessible around the clock, your customers tend to try to reach out to you multiple times. This has a direct impact on your CES. However, being accessible at all times to provide real-time assistance helps reduce the effort your customers need to put in, which in turn reduces your CES.
How to Provide 24/7 Customer Support?
When you’re scaling to provide assistance around the clock, there are several factors such as team size, cost, technology, etc that come into play. Here, we’ve listed different 24/7 solutions, and you can pick out the ones that work best for you –
A) Strengthen Your Self-Service
Providing support around the clock is generally associated with expanding your customer service team. However, that is not the only way to offer 24/7 support.
Building a robust customer self-serve module is a cost-effective solution that businesses of all sizes can implement to scale their customer service. In fact, self-service is a popular choice of finding solutions amongst customers too (61% of customers in a survey chose self-service over speaking to a customer support rep3).
Here are three self-service solutions you can set up to ensure that your customers are able to find solutions to their questions no matter what time of the day or night it is.
i) Knowledge base: A knowledge base is a repository of help-guides and FAQs that a customer can browse through to find solutions on their own. While we have written extensively about how you can build a knowledge base from scratch, here are a few tips that you can follow to optimize your customers’ self-service experience:
– Structure your knowledge base: Identifying common content themes, and categorizing your solutions and FAQs under each theme can help you build a well-organized knowledge base. By doing this, you make it convenient for your customers to navigate through the knowledge base, and find solutions that they are looking for. Here’s an example of a well-structured knowledge base portal:
– Periodically review performance: Building and maintaining a robust knowledge base requires continuous effort. You need to ensure that you document new features or policies that are being launched, and also take stock of all commonly asked questions and include them as well.
– Add an option to provide feedback: Providing an option for your customers to share their feedback helps ensure that your solution articles are truly helping them. It can be as simple as adding a thumbs up and thumbs down option, or inserting a feedback form at the end of every article.
ii) Help-widget: A help widget or a website widget is an interactive self-service option that your customers can use to find answers instantly on your knowledge base portal or website. You can embed answers from your knowledge base and even incorporate a contact form that your customers can use to raise a ticket that your team can resolve whenever they log back in.
iii) Chatbots: While a knowledge base and a help-widget are great self-service options, they only allow for a one-way interaction. However, chatbot offers a two-way interaction that closely mimics a human conversation. So, the self-service experience that a chatbot provides is more personalized, and satisfactory.
A chatbot goes through your knowledge base and fetches the best answers based on your customers’ questions. An AI-powered chatbot such as Freddy AI for CX, can go even beyond simply suggesting solutions. Freddy understands the customer’s intent, follows up the answer with relevant conversation flows to engage and delight customers. Using Freddy, you can also set up workflows to guide your customers through a step by step troubleshooting session to fully resolve their concerns.
Pro tip: It’s a good practice to provide an option to transfer the conversation to a human agent.
This way, your team can resolve issues that were too complex for the chatbot to handle whenever they log back in the next day.
iv) Community forums: User community forums are discussion boards that you can set up to enable your customers to interact with one another. A community forum is a popular platform for product teams to gather feedback on beta programs or bounce off feature ideas with customers. However, they also serve as a medium for customers to raise their issues and concerns. More often than not, customers within the community tend to answer questions and help each other out. The ones that are left unaddressed are generally answered by the moderator of the community (the moderator is typically someone from the product or customer service team).
Organizing the community forum by bucketing different topics of discussion together will make it easier for customers who need assistance to get help quickly. Here’s how the Freshdesk’s community forum has been categorized:
B) Scale Your Customer Support Team
If you have a large global customer base that prefers receiving real-time assistance over live chat or the phone, then in addition to building a robust self-service module, you need to scale your customer service team and operations. We’ve listed three popular ways in which you can scale your team along with their pros and cons:
i) Expand your existing team and adopt a shift-based model
When you’re looking to scale your existing team to offer 24/7 support, you need to:
– hire customer service reps for different shifts, and days of the week
– build a thorough shift-schedule to manage your overheads and prevent agent burnout
– train your team on support etiquette based on regions and cultures
Here’s a table that offers a comparison between the pros and cons of this model –
ii) Build local teams and adopt a follow the sun model
Building different teams for different geographies helps you spread your support team across each time zone and maintain continuity of support. Here’s a quick overview on how you can set up a follow the sun model:
– Establish local customer service teams from different regions such that you cover all hours in the day and night.
– Enable each team to handoff pending tasks to another location before their shift ends. This helps ensure that there is no information loss between teams working out of different locations.
You can evaluate the pros and cons of this model using the table below –
iii) Outsource customer service
There are some best practices you need to follow when outsourcing customer service to provide 24/7 support. Here are the three key things to keep in mind:
– Look for agencies that hire people who possess skills such as patience, empathy, and good communication.
– Take ownership of onboarding and training, and so you can offer a thorough product training.
– Have weekly conference calls to discuss issues, give feedback, and ask questions.
Here are the pros and cons of outsourcing customer service:
How to Optimize Support Operations to Provide 24/7 Customer Service Efficiently
Along with scaling your support team, the key to successfully implementing a 24/7 support model lies in ensuring that your customer service software is set up for scale. Here’s how you can optimize your support operations to offer customer service around the clock:
Use an omnichannel helpdesk: In general, customers expect you to offer 24/7 support on channels that require low effort such as phone, live chat, and messaging channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc. Using different tools for different channels might come at the cost of agent productivity and customer satisfaction. However, with an omnichannel helpdesk, you have a complete view of all the requests that come in from various channels. You can set up SLAs that run around the clock to ensure that all customer problems are replied to and resolved on time.
Automate key workflows: Important workflows such as assigning tickets and managing inter-team dependencies can get very challenging to execute when your team is working in shifts, or across different geographies. However, with workflow automations, you can automatically assign tickets to the right agents based on language, different customer segments, etc, and set up reminders or alerts on tickets with dependencies to ensure that all workflows are running smoothly regardless of the time of the day.
Set up agent-facing AI to assist agents: To make sure that all your team(s) has access to the right resources to provide consistent customer experience, you can set up an agent-facing AI that can serve as your team’s personal assistant. With Freddy, Freshdesk’s agent-facing AI, your team can get assistance whenever they’re stuck. Freddy helps your team get a better understanding of the problem, and suggests the next best step.
Measure and optimize your performance: Keeping track of your ticket volumes, team performance, and customer satisfaction using periodic reports can help you ensure that everything is in check. Plus, you can analyze trends in reports, and use the insights gained to strengthen your support strategy.
Best Practices to Follow if You Don’t Offer 24/7 Support
If you are looking to provide 24/7 customer service but don’t have the resources to immediately set it up, there are a few things you can do to ensure that customers who try reaching out to you outside of your business hours do not have a less than ideal experience:
i) Specify your business hours on all channels of support to give your customers an estimate when they can expect to hear from you. Here are three ways in which you can do that:
– Automatically send out an email notification whenever customers reach out to you outside of your work hours
– Automatically update your status or add a banner saying that you’re out of office if you provide customer service live chat
– If you offer assistance over phone, clearly specify your business hours whenever and wherever your contact number is mentioned (your website, or signature)
ii) Set your SLAs according to your business hours to make sure that you aren’t setting the wrong expectations with your customers. A simple example would be to use specific language such as “We’ll get back to you within 2 working days”, instead of “We’ll get back to you within 2 days” so customers can account for weekends or holidays.
iii) Set up robust self-service options to ensure that your customers are able to find answers on their own even whenever they need it.
Scaling your customer service to provide support around the clock goes a long way in benefitting your customers, as well as your business. With a good support ticket system, and the 24/7 support model that suits your business, you can get your customer service team operating 24/7/365 in no time!
1 – https://techjury.net/blog/live-chat-statistics/#gref
2 – https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/customer-experience-creating-value-through-transforming-customer-journeys
3 – https://www.superoffice.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics/