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Article 3 min read

Time to build a support operations team

By Laura Shear

Last updated January 25, 2021

What’s the key to delivering exceptional customer service during rapid change and company growth? Very often, it’s providing critical operational support to your customer support team. Your agents may be customer service geniuses, but that doesn’t mean they can do it all. If your business is growing, you’re eventually going to reach a point where they need support. Enter support operations – a team of seasoned experts dedicated to providing your agents with the tools they need to do their job.

It might be difficult to determine the exact moment to add a support team. How can you be sure your organisation is ripe for change? Simple. The day you have to move an agent off of ticket duty and customer assistance, and onto process and workflow tasks, it’s time.

Supporting your support team

Adding a support operations team means that you’ll never leave an agent – or a customer – hanging. A support operations team supports the crucial front line, those agents who are interacting directly with customers, fielding their enquiries and solving problems so that they remain your customers. Support operations responsibilities can include:

  • Defining and streamlining processes and workflows;

  • Building tools to help make delivering support easier;

  • Providing education and training to customer support agents; and

  • Evaluating all of the support data that’s available to help assess the organisation’s performance.

Putting a support operations team in place has several advantages. For one, these employees aren’t buried in the day-to-day trenches, so they have a different perspective on customer support and can analyse things from a bit of a remove. Their understanding of the business, based on direct experience with supporting agents, allows them to build out new processes and workflows strategically. That knowledge is also invaluable when building custom support tools because they know the main issues and challenges. Perhaps most important? Support operations has the time to thoughtfully implement tools and processes for measuring and analysing customer support metrics. Consumed by the day to day, your agents probably don’t have the time to analyse what’s working, what’s not and why. This is a critical function of any support operations team.

A support operations team provides job flexibility within your customer support department. Perhaps an experienced agent wants a new challenge or would like to take a break from direct interaction with customers. Support operations would be an ideal next step for this person. It’s a win-win situation – you hold onto a seasoned agent and your valued employee is given a new career challenge.

Structuring support operations

At Zendesk, many of the members of the Customer support team moved there after working as agents in tiers 2 and 3. That’s because the roles within a support operations team generally require more senior-level experience and expertise. As we grew this team, we played around with various titles and job responsibilities before arriving at a structure that works for us. Jobs within the team include systems specialist, systems analyst and tool developer, with three levels (manager to director) of each. Because we’ve had this structure in place for a while now, we know exactly what skills and experience to look for when employing people for these positions.

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