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How to Set up a Customer Support Team From Scratch

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Turn Gmail into a collaborative hub

How to Set up a Customer Support Team From Scratch

May 13, 2024
4 min read

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Building a customer support team is an intricate process. 

It’s not simply about hiring a few individuals to answer customer calls or respond to emails. It involves: 

  • Meticulously crafting a team culture
  • Establishing clear performance metrics
  • Equipping your agents with the tools and training they need to excel

Done correctly, your customer support team can become a strategic asset, turning customer interactions into positive experiences and propelling your business forward.

So, how exactly do you build a high-performing customer support team? 

I spoke with Emily Stubbs, Director of Customer Experience at Aerflo

In this blog, she offers practical advice on developing an effective customer support team. We’ll explore these steps, drawing on Emily’s expertise to help you build your own customer support dream team.

Q1. What are the key factors to consider when defining the mission and vision of a new customer support team?

Various elements influence the foundation upon which a team is formed. One of the main factors, of course, is ensuring that the team’s mission and vision are aligned with that of the company’s. 

Ensuring that a team’s core values are at the heart of everything they do should always be a top priority. In doing so, the support team’s scope of work can go beyond just interacting with customers. They become key players in driving revenue. 

Q2. What qualities and skills should be prioritized when hiring for a customer support team?

The key skills sought in a potential candidate in customer service can vary greatly depending on the company’s focus. For example, proficiency in written communication may be valued differently than verbal communication skills – depending on whether the company prioritizes text messaging or phone calls. While a young start-up might prioritize written communication over verbal communication, a larger corporation might emphasize the latter.

Q3. What goes into creating an effective training program for new customer support agents?

Developing a comprehensive training program or knowledge base can be a huge undertaking. I’ve found that incorporating dynamic lessons aids agents in their learning process. Humans have diverse learning styles; one trainee can have a photographic memory, and another might benefit from mixed media approaches.

Creating a training program that sustains trainee interest and engagement is vital for its effectiveness. Furthermore, it is crucial to ensure the program is user-friendly, regularly updated, and periodically reviewed for accuracy. Particularly in start-ups, where circumstances may shift rapidly, keeping the team informed about changes and ensuring the accuracy of absorbed information is paramount.

Q4. How can ongoing training and development be structured to ensure continuous improvement in service quality?

One of the most effective ways to ensure continuous development within a support team is by fostering collaboration between the Quality Assurance (QA) and training departments. The QA team should analyze and report on the main areas where the team struggles and identify pain points, whether they relate to processes or communication tone.

Once these areas of struggle are identified, it’s time for action. This could involve conducting refresher sessions on specific topics or revisiting older, more intricate processes to reinforce understanding and keep skills sharp. It’s crucial to ensure that team members grasp the concepts fully and to continue investing in their success.

Q5. What are the must-have tools and technologies for a newly established customer support team?

This is another aspect where I believe the choice hinges on the company’s specific focus and requirements, as well as what needs to take precedence. At the very least, having a reliable CRM tool that fulfills all necessary functions is paramount. 

Having worked with various platforms, I’ve consistently found Zendesk to be my preferred option due to its comprehensive features—covering support, chats, phone integration, reporting, a knowledge base, chatbot capabilities, and more. 

Q6. What key performance indicators (KPIs) a new customer support team should focus on?

These are the ones I’d recommend: 

  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): Gauge the level of satisfaction on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10, among your customers and assess their experience with your support team.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Evaluate their likelihood of recommending your company or products to others. 
  • First Reply Time (FRT): Measure how promptly your team responds to inquiries.
  • Average Resolution Time (ART): This quantifies the total duration it takes for your team to handle an inquiry from reception to resolution.
  • Ticket to Order Ratio (TTOR): Compare the number of inquiries received by your company to the number of orders processed, providing insight into customer engagement relative to business transactions.

Q7. What are the most common challenges faced when setting up a customer support team, and how can these be overcome?

New organizations often encounter challenges stemming from inadequate preparation and a failure to anticipate customer needs. The customer support team should collectively possess expert knowledge of the product, tools, and other relevant aspects. It’s essential to ensure that the team is well-versed in every detail and understands potential areas of inquiry. 

Understanding your customers enables you to anticipate their needs effectively. Our responsibility is to simplify their experience by being knowledgeable, educating them, and configuring tools for self-service wherever appropriate. This allows for personalized human support in interactions where it’s most needed.

Q8. Can you share any lessons learned or best practices from your experience in building and managing a successful customer support team?

How much time do you have? 

Kidding! To be honest, being a Director is a distinctive and fulfilling journey. Personally, I transitioned from a customer service agent to a manager, then progressed to an Associate Director and now hold the position of Director of Customer Experience. 

Through this journey, I’ve learned the importance of keeping aspirations lofty while staying grounded in reality. Effective leadership requires a thorough understanding of the organization at every level. Because of this, I constantly seek to comprehend the daily tasks of our agents and explore opportunities for optimization. 

I also focus on enhancing the leadership skills of managers and team leads. Moreover, I reflect on my past challenges to guide my team on the right path. While I may not always have all the answers, with my experience and my team’s expertise, we have the foundation to prioritize the customer experience at every level of the organization.


If you’re starting out to build a customer support team, there’s a lot of actionable insights you can gain from this conversation. 

Emily talks about: 

  • Qualities and skills to be prioritized when hiring. 
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) the team should focus on. 
  • Must-have tools and technologies for a newly established team. 

Regarding tools, you ought to check out Hiver. It’s a helpdesk that enables your team to handle support interactions from the comfort of your inbox. It’s super easy to use and intuitive. 

A passionate content marketer, Nidhi writes value-driven, actionable content for various teams such as customer service, finance, IT and HR. Her expertise lies in helping these teams engage, collaborate, and manage their workload better - by shedding insights on best practices and industry trends. When not working, you'll find her tuning in to marketing and support-related podcasts, while also planning her next vacation.

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