Most eCommerce companies have an individual or a dedicated team to handle customer support. And, many online store owners haven’t considered another way. So, today, we are going to explore Everyone on Support (EOS) as an eCommerce support strategy.
First, learn what the EOS approach is. Next, discover why this system might be worth implementing for your store. Then, explore how an online store can successfully evolve from a one-man or small team customer support operation to a company-wide culture of customer service.
Here is everything you need to know about EOS when you consider employing this customer-centric business model.
First, What is Everyone on Support (EOS)?
Everyone on Support (EOS) or all-hands support is a customer service strategy that extends beyond a designated support team to other staff members like the marketing and sales teams or even the CEO. EOS tends to get employees who would otherwise never have contact with customers out of their shell and involved. EOS cultivates company habits that focus on customers.
Next, Why Should You Consider EOS Implementation?
You are exploring all of your options, asking experts, and searching tirelessly for ways to make your operations run smoothly. Many online store owners and support team managers are doing this. And, the fact that you’re seeking is a sign that your business is going to maintain success. Ultimately, your support strategy must grow with your company, and EOS provides a unique channel in which to do so.
I am particularly moved by the customer service quote from Henry Ford, “A business absolutely devoted to customer service will have only one worry about profits: they will be embarrassingly large.”
In most companies, the support staff knows how crucial customer relationships are. But, it is easy for those working in other departments to lose sight of reality. After all, they aren’t in communication with their end-users on a daily basis. The everyone on support methodology changes this and reminds staff about the reality that customers are real people with real problems. Plus, it helps empower informed operational decisions across multiple departments.
The Measurable Benefits of EOS:
What are some of the advantages of implementing the all-hands method?
- External teams can answer specialized questions related to their expertise when support staff is not qualified to answer.
- Problems that may have otherwise gone unnoticed can be integrated into the universal business strategy.
- Back-logged operational obstacles can be overcome.
- A product feedback loop can be established.
- Support teams can see a decrease in first-response and resolution time on tickets.
The customer support team at Nomad, for example, began EOS implementation in November 2019. In the first month, they saw a 78% decrease in first-response time and a 70% decrease in resolution time. They knew right away that they had made the right choice by enlisting the product and marketing teams to help with an all-hands support strategy.
In October 2019, Nomad’s average first-response time had been four days and seven hours. EOS helped bring that number down to just one day and three hours in November. And, according to the staff, while the tactic is new to them, they are seeing similar results currently.
Of course, there are other valuable benefits that are not so easily measured.
While some people in Nomad’s external departments initially hated the idea of taking time out of their day to respond to customer tickets, others loved it. Either way, the implementation of EOS can quickly become an invaluable asset to an eCommerce company.
I was surprised, first by how much some people enjoy it and find meaning in it, and, secondly, the gems that they pull out of it. I’ve seen people who are on EOS send these nuggets of wisdom from customers or feedback or issues in our backchannel that I probably would have passed over and not seen as important. But, when someone on the Nomad team sends it to us and says, ‘Hey, you know, this is actually a good point,’ It holds more value as an issue that we should look into further. So, I was surprised by how helpful that was.
–Erica Deforge-Zarza | Customer Support Associate at Nomad
50% of shoppers believe that their feedback doesn’t go to someone who can act on it. Because of this, many consumers are not likely to bother letting you know what they think and feel. By implementing EOS, you assure that the right person from your team sees each message. In addition, you enable your staff to take internal action when needed.
Furthermore, in Nomad’s case, EOS seemed to create an overall sentiment of gratitude within the support team for the external help they received. The customer support team is openly thankful for the product and marketing teams and the gains they have seen in their department.
Nomad was able to implement EOS in the Gorgias helpdesk platform and see all of the above-mentioned benefits and more. The support team is now hoping to collaborate with other eCommerce support teams who use EOS or share an interest in the method to bounce ideas off one another.
Now, How to Successfully Employ EOS as a Customer Support Strategy
As a customer support team leader or a company owner, you probably see the potential power of an everyone on support strategy. But, how do you know where to start? From behind the scenes, here are the steps we recommend you take.
1. Define Your Current Position
As a customer support member interested in EOS, before anything else, you need to see where you stand. This will give you insights into your current eCommerce support strategy compared to others. And, it will help you determine the areas where your team needs to focus.
Here are the three main points to look at:
- First-response time (FRT) – How long does a customer wait before being initially greeted by a support agent?
- Resolution time/Incident means time to resolve (MTTR) – How much time passes between when a ticket is opened to when it is closed?
- Resolution rate – Of all tickets submitted, how many are resolved?
You need to know your internal metrics before you proceed. What are your average first response times, resolution times, and resolution rates quarterly and annually? If you have access to the data, go back a couple of years can and create a detailed report.
You will need a report to present when you are ready to share your idea with the rest of the team. Sharing this data will help your future EOS team visualize the potential and see where they might be able to help make improvements. You know it, but can you convince them that customer service is the new marketing?
What’s the Barometer for Customer Support?
Now is also a good time to understand what your customers likely expect from you and if you’re close to meeting their expectations.
The best metrics to beat are your own. However, when you want to see where you stand in comparison to the rest of your industry, it’s good to look at statistics. Here’s what modern consumers expect from customer support.
Consumers expect quick responses and the time they’re willing to wait varies by the communication channel.
- On social media, 42% of customers expect a response within 60 minutes (Convince & Convert).
- For live chat, customers want a response within 45 seconds (Com100).
- When communicating to support on the phone, 53% of customers are willing to wait three minutes to talk to an agent (BizFluent).
Are you meeting the barometer for satisfactory customer support? The answer is key when defining your current position.
2. Check-in With the Rest of Your Company
When you have an opportunity, bring the data you’ve collected to your company. Depending on the structure of your company and your position, this step will look different for everyone. The bottom line is that you need to get the idea in front of everyone before you bombard them with new tasks.
At a company meeting, share your current position and the idea of EOS. Get feedback and ask the departments who you plan to loop into support for their feedback. If helpful, share Nomad’s story with them. This will give others a chance to get used to the idea and realize the benefits before you implement major operational changes.
Moreover, your sales, marketing, and product teams are likely to have a ton of great ideas that you hadn’t considered. When everyone is willing to give it a shot, you’re ready for the next stage of planning.
3. Look at Your Company-Wide & Customer Support Goals
You should have already defined your current position and called attention to the idea of boarding everyone onto the customer support train. Now, it’s time to set your goals. So, what goals do you have as a company and what goals do you have as a customer support department? Write them down.
The objective here is to outline precisely where you plan to get. This way, when you implement your final EOS strategy, you will know whether or not it is working. As with all business intentions, your EOS goals should be measurable, realistic, and precise.
Again, having a clear, established picture will help you create a plan and see whether or not it’s working when you implement it.
4. Develop a Plan for a New All-Hands Support Strategy
This step is basically like writing a business plan for your support strategy. You can be as detailed as you want here (the more guidelines and information, the better). But, there are some must-have points to cover.
Current Customer Support Position Summary
Customer Support Objectives
- What Software Will You Use?
- Which Departments Will be Included?
- When Will EOS Begin?
- How Many Support Tickets Will Each Department/Individual on EOS be Responsible for?
- What are the Deadlines for Each Department/Individual to Meet Their Quota of Ticket Resolutions?
- When Will EOS Tickets be Assigned?
- When Will EOS Tickets be Resolved?
- Which Questions Will You Direct to Which Teams?
While this may seem obvious to some, it’s important to note that you should give EOS members from your external departments a small quota of tickets to fill. Be mindful of the fact that they should spend the majority of their hours doing the job they were hired for. The point is not meant to empty the inbox, but to create a new vibe or culture of customer-centered growth within your company.
5. Execute Your Plan and Make Adjustments Along the Way
Once your plan is ready, it’s time to review it with your company and get ready to implement it as scheduled. Check in to make sure that you are meeting your goals as a company and as a support team.
When you aren’t meeting your goals, ask ‘why?’ Are certain departments too busy? Is your software too complicated? Is onboarding difficult? Are your processes too complicated? When you know the answers, you can make informed changes to your strategy.
Everyone on support is a customer support strategy that gets people from external departments outside of their shells and into the CS team’s world. The benefits can have a major impact on eCommerce companies that opt to implement it. By creating a detailed plan and implementing it, you could see up to nearly 80% decrease in first response time on your customer support tickets.
This article originally appeared in the Gorgias blog and has been published here with permission.