Why All Hand Support doesn’t work in InsureTech and FinTech
All Hands Support is the premise that everyone working at an organization, regardless of their position, job title or salary, will spend a portion of their time in Customer Support.
It is an idea that started Tech world and seems to be having a renaissance amongst Fintech, InsureTech and start-ups keen emulate the big players.
The notion is that if everyone spends time in Customer Support, they will better understand the needs of the customer and feed their learnings back into their own outputs. Everyone’s a winner, or are they?
For most FinTech and InsureTechs, this approach is at best naive. The reality is that it will be detrimental to your bottom line, reduce customer satisfaction and could even get you into hot water with the regulators or authorities. If you are also a start-up operating on a short runway, it is an incredibly unwise way to burn through your funding.
Considering the recent rise in disruptor FinTech and InsureTech wishing to embrace All Hands Support, I think this topic is worth revisiting, so this article will tell you more about the reasons why All Hands Support probably won’t help your business, except in a few, very limited circumstances.
At the end, you will find an easy diagram to help aid your decision making.
Customer support requires skills and training
The first point is that you can’t just put anyone in Customer Support. It requires a particular set of skills that you should be recruiting for – competencies that most people don’t have.
Soft skills, such as humor, empathy and the ability to deal with confrontation or dissatisfaction cannot be developed in a few hours and it is a real disservice to Customer Support to assume that anyone can hop on and provide the same level of service they do.
There are case studies of organizations who have tried this and seen customer satisfaction plummet.
Tech trends don’t always translate to regulated environments
Regulated environments, in which FinTech and InsureTechs operate, demand that Customer Support obtain a whole raft of other competencies and knowledge gains before they are allowed to advise and support consumers. These require a significant amount of training to develop, and it is likely to be very expensive to bring everyone in the organization up to a competent level.
Regulations also require monitoring of individuals to ensure they are working to an adequate standard and providing the right information to customers.
The cost benefit of training and monitoring so many people is likely to be untenable, especially, as we will see later, the gains are unlikely to be great.
Operational Efficiency 101
Operational efficiency is the practice of providing products and services in the most cost-effective way possible. The goal of operational efficiency is to reduce your operating costs and still provide a high-quality services and products.
The easiest way to achieve operational efficiency is to reduce waste. This can be done by reviewing all activities that take place in your organization and ensuring that highly paid and skilled resources are not expending their efforts on repeatable tasks that could be automated or doing work that could be undertaken by cheaper resources. Strip these tasks from them and you will see much higher rates of productivity and a reduction in cost.
Imagine you take your top 50 highest paid resources, who on average get paid $70 an hour — if you decide to put them in Customer Support for 2 hours a month, those 100 hours just cost you $84,000. If, on the other hand, you had just hired a part time temp Customer Support associate at $20 per hour, you would have spent $24,000 a year. On top of that, you must pay for the time and costs required to train and monitor a disproportionate number of highly paid staff — this is very expensive, and the inevitable fact is that they won’t be as efficient as someone who does Customer Support as their main role. Add to this, the lost productivity of taking your highly paid team away from their main duties.
None of this is good math for any organization, especially not for a start-up trying to keep their burn rate down and customers happy.
A better option is to occasionally shadow Customer Support. This involves far less training and monitoring.
Can your organization actually implement the insights?
Let’s flip it and assume that, despite all the above, you still believe that there may be some insight to be gained from having everyone work on Customer Support — you then need to ask yourself whether your organization can bring those gains to life.
In reality, there are few organizations which have the infrastructure and flexibility to translate those insights straight into their customer journey and Tech offering. Most companies have tight OKRs, a roadmap or an infinite backlog “full of nice to haves” which keep getting deprioritized.
Is the aha moment from the Engineer who spent an hour on Customer Support really going to make it to the top of the priority list? And should it? Probably not if we are honest.
Are you listening to Customer Support?
Companies still thinking that they can gain true insight from putting their Execs and Engineers in Customer Support should also step back and ask themselves if a better approach might be to give more airtime to those already in that position.
Most employees in Customer Support will have a long list of grievances about the product offering and how it is affecting customers on the ground. Consult with them, talk to them, empower them to help build a backlog or feed into your requirements gathering process. They deal with customers every day and are an amazing source of knowledge as to what is working and what needs improving for customers. Only when you have implemented all their ideas is it necessary to expand out.
When you think about it, this is the grounded and humble approach — it almost seems arrogant to assume that the CEO or Engineer are going to bring more to the table than those who do the actual job every day.
What about surges in demand?
This problem is better solved by incentivizing the Customer Support team with rewards for a few more hours, or hiring a temp. These are the cheaper, most productive options that don’t see a drop in customer satisfaction levels or get you into trouble with the regulators.
Are there exceptions?
Sure, there are always exceptions.
Slack embarked on All Hands support during a system outage in 2015 when their wider team responded to people seeking answers about the outage on Twitter. This case was an example of the execution of business continuity plan in a time of outage and worked perfectly well.
It might also work in a pure Tech company with little regulation about the training required for Customer Support or in an organization where an Engineer has enough time and freedom to make bug fixes and tweaks at their leisure.
Use the diagram below to see if it will work you.
Tech trends don’t always translate to FinTech and InsureTech — some common sense will tell you whether All Hands Support is really right for your organization or just a bit ideological. For most, it is safe to say that it is more efficient, cheaper, and better customer service to just avoid it.
If your wider teams really want to gain insight, listen to Customer Support, and build the infrastructure to ensure they have a say.
Leave it to the experts — Customer Support.