What are support operations?
Definition: Support operations are processes, activities, and resources required to successfully provide customer support services while reducing stress and workload for the customer support team.
More precisely, the support operations team is responsible for planning, analyzing, and improving processes for customer support so they solve customer problems more efficiently.
To achieve this goal, the support operations team analyzes existing processes, examines metrics, surveys customers, and supports the agents by providing training on new tools and best practices.
Responsibilities of support operations
The support operations team creates onboarding documentation and trains new customer support agents. Their tasks usually include providing access to necessary tools and resources, sharing best practices, setting up accounts, and monitoring progress.
Support operations team members usually collect, analyze and report data related to the company’s customer support operations. The team identifies key performance indicators (KPIs) such as average response time, customer satisfaction score, and agent productivity. After identifying the support operations team measures, collects, analyses, and provides feedback to the customer support agents, stakeholders, and other members of the company.
Managing the workforce
The support operations team works hand in hand with customer support in terms of scheduling and staffing, forecasting the demand of call and chat volumes, and managing adherence. All these behind the scene operations are needed to ensure that the number of staff at any given moment is optimized to meet the number of demands.
The support operations team helps with the career development of customer support agents because they follow the progress and achievements of all agents.
Improving processes & finding new tools
Besides reporting, the team is later involved in monitoring performance over time and creating strategies to identify and address potential areas of improvement and issues. The tasks include updating the product knowledge or other documentation to help the agents be up to date and respond to customer inquiries precisely.
Also, finding and testing new tools and software (such as Conversational AI) to help reduce costs and improve efficiency. Implementing new tools and training the staff on how to use them is crucial to ensuring that customers and the agents are satisfied.
Collaborating with other departments
In bigger companies, the support operations team advises the product development team by providing insight from interactions with the customers. Other departments, such as the design or marketing team, also benefit from the feedback and KPIs the support operations team gets. Interactions with the customers may reveal areas of improvement, new product ideas, or marketing strategies.
Different roles in a support operations team
- Support operations manager (Head of Operations): Monitors workflows and the efficiency of tools and protocols.
- Developer: Works on creating, testing, and modifying software applications the support team uses to track customer interactions.
- Systems Analyst (Operations Specialist): Responsible for designing, analyzing, and optimizing customer support tools to automate workflows.
- Support trainer (Process trainer): Informs and educates the support team on the latest tools, protocols, and analytics to make sure everyone is on board and doing their best.
- Quality Assurance tester: Makes sure the software products the support team uses meet the pre-determined requirements and resolves issues and bugs.
The importance of support operations
- Cost reduction
The support operations team helps the company increase revenue and reduce costs. Their efforts help improve the efficiency of the support agents, reduce the number of repeated inquiries, and drive revenue with customer retention and repeat purchase.
The support operations team makes sure the company is using all its resources in the best way.
The team reduces costs by optimizing the schedule, reducing/increasing the number of employees, or incorporating AI tools such as chatbots.
- Employee retention
By reducing the workload, creating a positive work environment, and providing opportunities for career development, the support operations team has a crucial role in employee retention.
Customer support is a stressful job with high chances of employee burnout, so the support operations team oversees employee engagement, feedback, recognition, and career opportunities.
- Customer satisfaction
The support operations team increases customer satisfaction by creating efficient processes, assuring quality, monitoring & reporting, and implementing new technology and tools.
When reaching out to customer support, all customers want a precise and fast answer to their questions. Customer support agents need proper training, documentation, schedule, and tools to achieve those goals.
Even though the support operations team isn’t in direct contact with customers, it ensures they receive high-quality support that follows the best practices.
If the company is bigger, it needs help collecting feedback from customer support agents and getting an objective picture of their efforts. Customer support agents don’t have time to measure and track KPIs and do the reporting.
The support operations team overlooks, analyses, and helps improve the overall customer support system without burdening the agents or the senior managers.