When the concept of All Hands Support first emerged in the framework of customer service, it has created the buzz among the SaaS companies. Companies touted this new term as a new ground in the field of customer support management, the pinnacle of cross-company customer service collaboration.
The idea of All Hands Support is that all team members, from sales managers to alpha geeks, spend some portion of their working hours talking to customers and solving their issues.
Shortly after its emergence, some of the biggest players in the SaaS market adopted this newish concept. Help Scout, Olark, Basecamp, Customer.io, Zapier, New Relic, Slack, and many others have implemented All Hands Support in the core of their operations. Part of them, however, found that it didn’t work and subsequently gave up on its further use. And even those who didn’t, are not using its classical model, they’ve modified it in the way that we can’t call it “All Hands Support” any longer.
Wondering if your business could’ve made a good use of the All Hands Support approach?
In this article we’ll walk you through all pros and cons of All Hands Support and explain why it’s pure version is highly unlikely to work for your business.
The pros of All Hands Support
1 Better tech support
Well-qualified front-line customer support managers can deal with all sorts of problems. But let’s face it: some technical issues require high technical expertise. When something gets broken, customers would rather talk directly to the engineer, so they would have their problems fixed right away.
Moreover, All Hands Support can motivate engineers to fix the problem faster. Using this model, they are able to get the first-hand info about the occurring issues and empathize directly with the end-customer. No doubts, customers, in turn, will appreciate the fact that they are talking to someone who is capable of fixing the problem.
And even if they don’t intend to solve it once they see an open ticket, regular messages from unsatisfied clients reporting the same or similar problem, are likely to become a sort of “default trigger” for the developer. Naturally, after a couple of such messages, any human being would at least try to address its origin. 🙂
There is a funny example of how All Hands Support can motivate developers to quickly address the problems and solve them once and for all. It’s from Ali Rayl, the director of customer experience at Slack :
“And like I mentioned, we were all responsible for support. One thing that was fantastic about everybody on the development team being responsible for phone support is that everybody got really, really careful. It was like, “Okay, if we screw this up, the phone is going to ring.” And I think that it’s even worse now than it was back then, but it’s like, oh my god, that phone’s going to ring, this is the worst thing, I do not want to talk on the phone, that was pretty effective in a few ways.”
As you see, All Hands Support can be a pretty effective tool for pushing every one of your team closer to your customer.
2 Helps to build a customer centric business culture
All Hands Support can contribute to building a customer-focused culture inside the company. Putting every employee on the front line, making them directly interact with their customers leads to the better understanding of user’s needs and experience. This, moreover, helps to build a customer-focused product.
Having a number of teams taking care of different tasks, it’s not always easy to bring everyone to the common ground. With the popular and broadly adopted model of the distributed workforce, it becomes even harder. Imagine that you have a team of developers in Hong Kong, your salespeople and management are based in Manchester, while customer support operates from Denver. And except for those who have a direct interaction as a part of their day-to-day responsibilities, employees are shielded from the understanding of user needs and buying experience.
We’ve been here before, haven’t we?
In such companies, management is getting a hard time trying to tie each team to an end-consumer. All Hands Support seems to be a solution. It’s the strongest point is that all the issues are stepping out of the shadow. This is beneficial for everyone: designers learn which pages of your website are the most difficult to navigate and can make appropriate adjustments, while engineers get help in detecting bugs and can implement corrections in the code.
3 Cuts costs and accelerates the process
These are probably the first things companies think of before implementing the All Hands Support in their business processes. Bringing all hands to the pumps speeds up the support. And furthermore, it involves people with different skills and makes them work together for the needs of customers.
Speaking from experience, building a professional customer support team requires a lot of effort, not to mention its great costs. For example, dedicated customer support agents in the U.S. earn an average of $22 per hour. For a big business, you’ll need dozens of agents and at least one management position to run it 24/7. And then assume that you’d need at least and one supervisor or management position for every ten agents. Quite costly, isn’t it?
And even if you decide to outsource, it’s not always cheaper.
High level customer support agencies in the U.S. can bill you with an enormous $22-$35 per hour.
For small companies and startups that simply cannot afford such services but want to start the real-time support of their customers, All Hand Support is a good way to boost the effectiveness and minimize the expenses.
We’ve been through major benefits of All Hands Support. By now it should be understandable why so many customer-focused businesses decided to adopt this approach.
But why do companies give up on using all employees in customer support?
Despite all its advantages, the concept of All Hands Support has a number of substantial drawbacks.
The cons of All Hands Support
1 Not all team members are willing to do support
In the culture of adhocracy and division of labor, employees are normally encouraged to be the best in the niche. Developers are good at developing, and salespeople are good in sales and so on. So, when you kick your best geeks out of their professional niche and make them do the work that they were not hired to do – and, more importantly, something they are reluctant to do – you shouldn’t expect a high level of enthusiasm.
Some employees hate answering phone calls, and others just can’t comprehend why it suddenly became their major responsibility. On the other hand, if you put All Hands Support in the list of job responsibilities, it’ll make hiring a way harder. In the end, it may put your HR manager between a rock and a hard place.
All Hands Support can lead to the frustration of your most valuable team members.
2 Far from all employees are bred to work in support
Ability to be effective in customer support is an individual skill. To become an outstanding customer support representative, one should not only be able to communicate but dedicate yourself to the needs of your clients. Good support managers have incredible patience and an infectious sense of humor. Do you think that all members of your team possess such skills? We’d say it’s unlikely.
If you put people that are not hard-wired for service to work with your precious clients, get yourself prepared to the low scores in the customer satisfaction metrics.
3 All Hands Support is not 24/7
If you want to start offering 24/7 support, putting all hands in the pot won’t help you with that. Everyone has their own deadlines. Don’t assume that your alpha geeks are happy with spending days and nights knee-deep in customers’ problems.
Of course, hiring a team of 24/7 support representatives can cost you a fortune. Nevertheless, you have options. Outsourcing support services seems to be the best solution. With SupportHunt, for instance, you don’t lose in quality, you pay an affordable price and gain clients’ loyalty.
4 It is disruptive
Let’s imagine the situation: it’s the middle of the working day, and your senior developer is writing the vital piece of code. He’s merely intent on making it as perfect as possible. And then, he receives a call from a tough customer. Customer says that something is broken and he can’t log in to his/her account. What do you think happens next? It’s doubtful that the problem will be solved both in time and in customer’s favor.
Moreover, All Hands Support also disrupts the work of support representatives. The problem is that they normally can’t refuse to help their non-support colleagues. And in the end, it’s always the customer who suffers consequences.
5 Frankly, it won’t save you a penny
If you want to your team members to work extra, you should pay them extra money for that. If you want employees to do an outstanding support, you should pay them even more. And it won’t guarantee that they’ll be doing it as good as you wish.
In fact, hiring the right people for customer support will save you more time and money than All Hands Support.
Let’s sum it up
Although All Hands Support approach may seem like a perfect way to deal with customer service, it doesn’t work for all businesses. Yes, it helps to build a customer-focused environment at the very roots of the corporate culture. Yes, it can be cheaper at make support a bit faster. But it’s always a long shot. Are you ready to trade off the quality of your services for something that may not have a positive impact?
Not everyone can multitask, not to mention dealing with angry customers. Customer support is a skill, and just like any other skill, it requires hard training and specific knowledge to obtain. What’s even more important, a lot of people just don’t want to do support. How can we blame a good developer for not handling customer calls properly?
Another important question that you should ask yourself before adopting this approach is
What is your company dedicated to? Is it your clients’ satisfaction or the attempt to benefit from their struggle?
We believe that the former one is not an option. Customer support is not a niche where you can cut a few corners. Yet, if you can’t hire more support representatives, we’d recommend you to outsource. Here, at SupportHunt, we’d be happy to help you.