Scaling customer service is tough. First, you need to hire people and of course, train them to run your customer service. One option you may have considered is hiring a customer service agency to help you. However, you might be skeptical and think that an outside team can’t learn your business well enough which would make the quality of the customer service really bad.
It is possible to teach a customer service team how to run customer service for your business. There are just a few things you need to get right, such as the kick-off and knowledge share process, the learning process, and the iteration process. Frankly, even if you decide to keep customer service in-house, you’re going to need to get good at this training so you can train new hires.
At HelpFlow, we provide 24/7 live chat teams to over 100 e-commerce stores and have been in the business since 2015. From day one, a huge part of our focus was the onboarding process to learn the clients’ business effectively. We’ve done hundreds of onboarding at this point and iterated after each one. Finally, we perfected the process and we’ll share how it works in this post.
Whether you’re considering working with an agency and want to make sure they have a strong process like this, or you’re looking to book up the way you train your in-house team, you’ll get a lot of value from this post.

Let’s get into it…

Comprehensive (But Efficient) Knowledge Share

Just expecting to train and have a team learn organically without structure is incredibly inefficient. Not only does the process move slowly, but typically there will be a lot of gaps in the knowledge and training that the team receives with a process like this.

It is possible to systematize much of the training process, and it all starts with the initial knowledge-share that you give to the team. Of course, we’ve refined this a lot over the years, but here are the basics that we’ve found to be critical to the success of new client training.

  • We have a detailed database of information that we need to know about each new client. For example, we have a large list of policy-related questions, product troubleshooting-related questions that apply to all types of products, and much more. We are constantly adding overtime to that list based on new client onboardings and the millions of chats we’ve conducted and reviewed over the years.
  • Typically, we find the answer for most of these questions is one of a few answers. Rather than expecting clients to answer each question individually, we make it incredibly easy within our onboarding system to provide answers rapidly. This makes the extensive knowledge share process very efficient.
  • For situations that are dynamic and require discussion, we discussed those on an onboarding call. This allows us to gather structured information quickly upfront while having more complex discussions through the onboarding call.

By structuring the initial knowledge-share process like this, we are able to gather a lot of information easily from the client, which then feeds into the knowledge base we create.

Create a Robust Knowledge Base

We gather a lot of information during the initial knowledge-share. However, it is very important to structure that information well so that it is accessible to the agents during training and while providing customer service.

Without a good structure, the scope of the knowledge works against the quality of the customer service by making it hard to find anything that is needed. Restructure the knowledge base to be robust and comprehensive, and easily searchable in many ways.

  • We built a custom knowledge base solution that integrates directly into our custom agent interface. This shows relevant FAQs to the agent in the interface based on what the visitor is typing in the chat.
  • We have a robust search function that enables agents to find FAQs when needed, rather than relying on navigation or a knowledge tree structure.
  • Finally, we centralize the knowledge base topics and then have conditionals for specific information. For example, we may have a single shipping policy knowledge base article with conditionals for the shipping destination country or other aspects of the customer’s business. All of this is searchable, making it easy for the agent to find the right information when needed.

We do the bulk of the work to create the knowledge base and finalize it with the client prior to launch. Many of our clients end up using the knowledge base with their internal customer service teams since the result is so much more robust than what they have created up to that point.

Use a Pilot Launch to Perfect Everything

Once the knowledge base is complete and approved, we prepare a pilot launch team. This enables us to ensure the knowledge base is ready while also perfecting training for the entire agent team.

Here’s a brief overview of how it works:

  • We set up training to be done with the pilot team and then gauge their knowledge of the client with testing. This ensures a good baseline in place on the pilot team before going live.
  • We launch chat on the clients’ website with a small group of agents and focus on answering visitors’ questions while also building up the knowledge base. While our main service is 24/7, we typically do a limited schedule pilot launch that enables us to iterate on the knowledge base and training rapidly.
  • Once the pilot launch has satisfied a few criteria, we move to the full launch phase by training all agents and launching 24/7 coverage.

By doing a small pilot launch, we can ensure that the knowledge base is strong and the process is bulletproof prior to going live for all customers.

Rapid Iteration with Clients

As with anything in business, the success of launching a customer service team is all about collaboration. But at the same time, the efficiency of how that collaboration happens is important. After all, you don’t have a ton of time to train new team members or a new agency.

We rapidly iterate with clients by having multiple layers of collaboration that vary in the level of work required by the client:

  • First, our internal team reviews all of the chats and builds a knowledge base based on what could be improved. This alone rapidly improves the knowledge base.
  • Second, when we refer to a question we can’t handle, the client copies us on the reply to the customer. This goes to our team and is used to update the knowledge base to handle that question in the future.
  • Third, we provide an interface that allows the client to review chats and give us feedback, and we encourage this in the early days of the service. This allows us to improve based on the clients’ feedback efficiently and rapidly.
  • Finally, we have a weekly working meeting with the client starting on day two after launch. We drive this meeting and come prepared with resources and metrics to get what we need to improve constantly.

This client iteration process has been evolved over hundreds of clients and seven years in business. Many clients have told us that we manage their accounts better than any other vendor they work with, and that’s something we take pride in.

Are You Ready to Scale?

Scale, you have to train people and the agencies you work with. Our robust process covers intake, knowledge base, training, and collaboration. By being so methodical, we can smoothly help clients scale more cost-effectively than doing it in-house.

If you’re working with a customer service agency that does not have a robust onboarding process, consider digging deeper into the quality of how they’re managing things for you. If it feels ineffective working with them, it’s due to the lack of this process.

If you want to go through a Live Chat or Customer Service Audit with our team to identify specifically what you can do to drive more sales and provide a better customer experience through customer service, contact us. You’ll get a lot of value even if you don’t end up working with us, as we work with so many stores and leverage that information in the audit.

Finally, I just want to dive deeper into more content; here are a few starting points.

Jon Tucker

CEO, HelpFlow.com

Jon Tucker is CEO of HelpFlow, a provider of 24/7 live chat and customer service teams for 100+ eCommerce stores. Launched in 2015, their team of agents has produced nearly $100M in chat revenue for a wide range of stores using a conversion-focused approach to live chat.

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Your Store Needs a 24/7 Live Chat Team

 

HelpFlow can drive sales by having our team of human agents available on live chat 24/7 to predict and save abandons before they happen, proactively reach out and engage with visitors via SMS and email after they abandon, and by answering visitor questions live on your website to convert visitors.