How to Protect Your Support Team’s “Swim Lanes”

Support teams are often the quiet, unsung heroes that sit at the intersection of different stakeholders. Because of this, customer support is susceptible to becoming overloaded with projects that are not within their scope. Overloaded and overworked support team members therefore may become less efficient at successfully executing the specific tasks that their roles encompass. As October’s Customer Support Superhero Speaker Austin Baik, Director of Support at Lucidworks, asserted, “everyone wants a piece of support”.

When there are so many requests coming in, prioritization becomes necessary. So how should managers and team members appropriately handle overload in order to ensure that their teams stay focused within their “swim lane” and perform to capacity?

Austin offers four key tips for teams to appropriately handle overload:

1. Management needs to set clear guidelines from the get go

Managers need to regularly identify roles for their team members and the scope of what they should be tackling, and articulating what falls in and outside of it. A good starting point is asking (and addressing): what are the tasks and projects that management wants the team to be working on? These lines become more defined with time and experience and will ultimately set team members up for success in defending their responsibility to swim in their lanes.

2. Clearly delineate boundaries with other stakeholders

Austin suggests meeting with all of the department heads individually to quite literally whiteboard out “swim lanes”. He recommends asking questions such as: Who manages customer expectations? What is the appropriate escalation path? At what point does Root Cause Analysis become the responsibility of Engineering and Product? During these meetings, figure out who support should turn to in regards to out-of-scope requests.

3. Educate, educate and educate

Everyone in the company needs to understand the role and scope of support in order to make delineating boundaries impactful. Managers need to make sure that all teams understand what support’s function is so they are able to proactively identify tasks that are out of support’s scope. Some teams will need more reinforcement than others to drive this point across.

4. Your superhero duty

Get comfortable enforcing these “swim lanes” company-wide. There will still be situations when, as Austin says, managers need to be the sheriff that makes the angry phone call, or serve as the scapegoat that takes the angry phone call…sometimes even at the same time.

Taking care of support teams is just one step towards the ultimate goal of creating a frictionless customer experience. Learn about optimizing the rest of the customer journey with this eBook!

The Clear Road Forward to Customer Prosperity

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