Customer Support Operations: What is it and why it is important

Last Updated: August 27, 2021

Is your support team juggling between enhancing customer experience, balancing efficiency, and keeping the team morale high, all within a tight budget?

Then what’s missing in your team is a support operations function. The support operations team can take care of all the strategic and operational processes for the support team to function smoothly and focus on their core job (i.e.,) solving customer problems.

If you are keen to know when’s the right time for your company to invest in support ops, the roles and responsibilities, and how it can lead to agent and customer happiness, then this blog is for you. 

Support Operations

The support operations (aka customer operations) team aims to provide the environment, tools, technologies, processes, and policies to help the customer support team work efficiently.

When do you need a Support Operations team?

Support managers are usually at crossroads when it comes to choosing between self-managing support processes vs. hiring for a support ops role. If any of the following factors is a check then you might want to hire a support operations team.

Communication Gap between teams

While resolving a customer issue, support reps have to interact with different teams like Development, Quality Assurance(QA), Business Development, etc. For the information to flow correctly between departments, there need to be set processes in place. 

For example: If a customer reports a bug in the product, the support team must communicate this to the development and testing teams. Right processes and good coordination between teams are required to get the solution to the customer. 

Neither the development team nor the customer support team has the time to define these processes. We need someone who is not buried in the day-to-day trenches to handle this.

The support operations team can step in and find scenarios where process standardization is required.

Analysis and Insights in the support process

How much would you trust a self-managed support team, where everybody performs ad-hoc communication to the customer, and support managers come into the picture only when something is broken? These quick fixes can cost you customers. 

The support ops team has the experience to carefully build tools and processes to measure and analyze support metrics, important KPIs, and identify gaps.

Scaling/Hiring decisions for support

As your customer base grows, your support team scales and managing becomes tough for the support manager with his/her day-to-day responsibilities. The support operations team can help scale the team, help find the right hires, and create a training plan for them.

Saving Cost

The support operations team can identify automation opportunities and make the support processes efficient. Balancing the support workforce with automation can help support managers understand when and whom to hire.

Primary responsibilities of the Support Operations team

Every company has slightly different support processes based on industry, clientele, type of issues, etc. Here we cover some of the common responsibilities of a support ops team.

Support Team Structure

Creating a team structure is one of the basic building blocks to ensure that support is provided at various levels based on the complexity.

That’s where tiers come into the picture. Fixing levels and processes to channelize the issues can be the focus of the support operations team.

At HappyFox, we have a three-tier support team for segmenting tasks and focus areas: 

  • Tier-1 takes care of general product support tickets (How-tos)
  • Tier-2 handles technical support tickets
  • Tier-3 addresses advanced technical support tickets and engineering issues

Setting tiers gives agents clear goals and responsibilities. They can develop expertise in the process and also seek career growth within these tiers. Additionally, the experience gained can be utilized for creating an internal knowledge base to train new employees and as a reference for the existing support staff.

Training and Skill development

Most organizations rely on trial and error while supporting customers. But today, a single bad experience can cost you dearly. Even worse, one negative public review can deter potential customers from purchasing from you. 

Onboarding new reps and training the existing agents with a continuous learning model as the product evolves can reduce errors to as low as nil.

The support operations team looks after every new hire by preparing a training and testing plan before getting them on the field. They also look at training existing support reps by seeking feedback on missing skill sets and any blockers while handling customer queries. Additionally, maintaining an internal knowledge base is an essential part of training and skill development.

Workflows and Processes

Support operations being a process function involves optimizing existing processes and workflows you have in place. It helps iron out any inconsistencies and gaps, allowing the team to focus on their core responsibilities. 

Following are some of the key areas that a support operations team works on: 

  • Setting up and optimizing processes and policies
  • Shift optimization
  • Building Support Playbook – Documented guidelines for the support team
  • Data cleanup

Below is an example of a simple workflow that guides support agents on setting a particular status on the ticket. Clarity on the ticket status helps maintain the data clean, which in turn helps in better reporting.

Reporting and Monitoring

Ask any support operations team about their daily work, and they will immediately have reporting and monitoring in the top three. 

Customer success team is too busy to pay attention to data and metrics. The support operations team’s core work is to understand what the data tells about support performance and improvise it. There are various stats and reports that the support operations team can monitor. Some of them are listed below:

  • Feedback survey – What is your customer satisfaction score?
  • Ticket count – How’s the ticket inflow per hour? Is the staff enough to handle it?
  • Type of requests – What kind of requests take longer than usual?
  • SLAs – Are you meeting the SLAs?
  • Performance evaluation – Who are your top-performing agents?

Rewards and Recognition

Support teams face burnouts often as they are on their toes to help frustrated customers. They need to be constantly reminded about the company objectives, their importance in the company and rewarded for their work.

Managers and teammates often point out the agents’ mistakes, but on rare occasions, they utter a word of appreciation. The result then is very evident, sad employees = sad customers. 

Support operations teams can take initiatives to recognize the best performing team members. From a simple appreciation on your team’s communication channel to bonuses, any small step to reward the team can help boost the employee morale and make work feel like home.

How does HappyFox support Support Operations?

With technology, tools, and automation entailing almost every profession, support ops function also requires some tools to power their activities and responsibilities. HappyFox provides an efficient suite of customer support products that can be leveraged to build a solid support team.

Help desk

At HappyFox, the managers and support ops team uses the help desk as the core tool to analyze support processes and identify gaps. HappyFox help desk brings in a seamless ticket management solution to address customer queries from various channels within a single platform. 

The screenshot is taken from HappyFox Ticketing System that shows a report on the number of tickets addressed each hour by support agents, as shown by the heat map. The darker the color, the more is the number of tickets handled. 

Support operations managers and support managers can leverage HappyFox reports to see the support health easily.

Satisfaction survey is another feature in the HappyFox Help Desk that lets agents trigger a customer feedback survey after an issue is solved. Satisfaction survey reporting is also available in HappyFox Help Desk.

Business Intelligence

Help desk reporting is great, but what if you need multiple correlations and want to dig deep into various support metrics? Your support ops team needs a system better than Excel so that the analysis doesn’t require pivots and multiple worksheets but can be consolidated within a single dashboard. That’s where HappyFox Business Intelligence can help.

The report here shows First Response Times (FRT) for different types of queries like a feature request, incident, phone support, bug, spam, etc., which could help understand which kind of query took a higher First Response Time and the number of queries of each kind.

Internal Knowledge Base

When it comes to training the employees and knowledge management, there is no better medium than an internal knowledge base for documenting all the rich experience and expertise of the support team.

Having an internal knowledge base lets you:

  1. Organize the articles based on categories 
  2. Train new hires
  3. Educate the team on the latest issues and document complex solutions to common problems
  4. Update the document when there are any upgrades or changes
  5. Reduce errors

HappyFox Workflows

After analyzing the gaps in the processes, the support ops team’s next job is to fix the cracks. Problem statements could be simple, from bulk updating and closing spammy tickets to complicated scenarios that involve multiple steps like updating a ticket, sending a satisfaction survey to the customer, and notifying the development team via private note at the same time. HappyFox Workflows can help achieve advanced automation into your Help desk.

Key Takeaways

Support operations is a function that will be required over time as your client base and support team scale. To begin exploring this role, you can begin with promoting employees with an analytical and process-oriented mindset to work on support operations. It will reduce risk and accelerate the support process for the customer service team. 

This blog gives a clear idea about the responsibilities of a support ops team, when’s the right time, and what tools can help you with it. Is any tool missing in your customer support kit? We can help. Talk to our product expert by booking a slot today.