Support Leadership: Structure of Support?

Everyone is different. Though I’ve found a terrific balance by having the overall Support team split into two crews: Support and Coaches (think storytelling through solving business use cases and retention). Where Support’s focus is responsively to engage customers, Coaches focuses proactively to engage those users less prone to seek out help. Both have their specialties and both have uniqueness of character, but they complement each other. The more Coaches reach out, the lower the burden to Support. The more Support + Coaches talk and work with advisors, the higher engagement and adoption is and, from what we can tell, the greater successes for our customers.

(Quick note: you can think of our Coaches as “Customer Success” for most of the industry. Customer Success can be very vague unless you’re a millennial in the SaaS startup world. Coaches, for many, have a definition that’s quickly illuminated and dictates to us exactly what to expect.)

Time zone coverage — how does a team handle this? How do we best serve customers? For us, we’re a B2B shop so most of our coverage is 8–8PM PST Monday-Friday. Though we do frequently reevaluate whether it makes sense to expand that. For other companies it’s 24/7, Monday-Saturday, or some other mix. Everyone is different and that’s something I’ve found each Support team needs to wrestle through. It’s a beautiful question.

I’ve found developing each person into a generalist and then taking time to find each person’s gifting and talents over the course of months (or weeks) has been a terrific way to build a team that’s capable of handling most every question, yet still having individuals that can dive deeply into specific issues and questions.

You’re thinking about what’s necessary for the business, what’s flying at you, and how your team can best serve. Your teammates each get to flex their specific strengths. It’s not easy, but I’ve seen some teams that work like clockwork…like they were made to fit like a glove.

As you add more to your team, keep an eye out for what you need next. Maybe you already have several very technical staff and you now need to branch out for more sales-y, or someone more analytical. Write these down. Your needs will arise (and change) and you’ll know them best, but the best advice is to always think around the bend: with the current setup, what would I need in 3–6 months depending on the best case, moderate case, or worst case? These will be indicative of what you should look for. You’re not hiring for uniformity, but to build an orchestra of different talents.

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