What sets startups apart from other companies is their infinite scalability – their ability to serve 10 customers or 10 million customers with the same amount of resources. In fact, it was named a top priority by European VCs in 2021.
While the promise of hockey stick growth for tech startups sounds enticing (build and the rest will come, right?), startups will inevitably run into a snag – how do you maintain that scalability when it comes to international customer experience – from customer support to sales or content management?
A key aspect in scaling is international expansion, as very often (particularly for European startups) you'll have to look across borders to find growth. However, cross-border activities come with their own challenges. You'll need CX (customer experience) teams that speak the language and know the culture of your new markets. That means hiring, training, and maintaining these specialized employees for each market, and for various shifts. It means maintaining a CMS in the local language. The more you grow, the more your CX requirements grow. That's hardly scalable.
We spoke to Chloé de Mont-Serrat, Head of The Nest by Webhelp about how outsourcing CX roles can be key to maintaining scalability during times of rapid growth, and even crisis.
Outsource international CX talent management
With salaries often making up over 50% of startup expenses, sourcing, training, hiring, and managing talent is a big-ticket item worth looking into.
Rather than putting in the effort to build out your own international CX team, think about how you can achieve the maximum with minimal effort. By outsourcing your CX efforts, you can effectively hand over a host of responsibilities (and expenses – both in time and partially money) related to building your team. These labour-intensive practices include:
- Finding and vetting suitable candidates
- Drafting and negotiating employee contracts
- Offering benefits, such as social tax, vacation time, etc.
- Office overhead of maintaining these employees
- Managing, training, and developing employees on a daily basis
“Recruiting the right people is hard enough in your own market, but it reaches a whole new level of difficulty when you have to open a new country without knowing the local specificities of the talent pool, the best way to operate your customer support or sell your product to foreign customers.” – Chloé de Mont-Serrat, Head of The Nest by Webhelp
With a solution provided by an experienced partner, you could optimize your time to market while focusing your time and resources on your core business: your products and services.
Test and validate new markets before investing in them
New market entry can take anywhere from months to years and incurs hefty expenses when you think about building out a subsidiary in the country of your choice.
Chloé de Mont-Serrat shares that outsourcing your growth team could be a beneficial strategy to maintain a lean approach to cross-border expansion. She recommends the following steps:
- Outsource local support reps, content localization, sales reps, community management, etc.
- Observe if the activities are bringing the desired amount of traction.
- If yes, proceed to investing more into the new market and building out your own team.
By using outsourcing partners, you can test several markets simultaneously with minimal effort on your end. As de Mont-Serrat put it, “testing the market through an established partner like The Nest could be the way to make sure you don’t put all your eggs in the wrong basket.”
Using a testing strategy like this means that you'll reach scaling goals faster – identify high-performing markets and lean into global growth.
Maintain a flexible and agile team to grow quickly at minimal risk
If we've learned anything from the past 2+ years of living in a pandemic, it's that agility rules, and the ability to quickly reduce burn rate can be a great help to startups in a time of crisis. And not just in the wake of a global health crisis – if any of your target markets experience downturns, it's not only helpful but necessary to have a backup plan.
Build and maintain a workforce that is flexible, can be quickly decreased, or roles that can quickly be shifted. This can be done by training team members in various roles, or more simply, by working with a partner such as The Nest by Webhelp, that can scale up or scale down your extended team as your needs change.
For example, in the context of dynamic growth, you might need some flexibility in your sales/support ratio.
“The COVID-19 pandemic provided painful evidence of this, but it is only one of the specific situations where a startup can need to reduce its spending in times of crisis. While going abroad, you expose yourself to more risks, whether political or market risks. Working with a service provider can also help to absorb demand shocks as they will "take the hit" and be able to adjust the workforce and tasks.” - Chloé de Mont-Serrat, Head of The Nest by Webhelp
The Nest and its mother company Webhelp are already working with over 1300 clients to scale their teams and improve their CX operations around the globe. Roles to be outsourced can range from customer engagement to sales, KYC, and content management, in 40+ languages. Find out more at thenest.webhelp.com.