All Star Customer Success: The One Part of Your Business You’ve Been Neglecting
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Most brands spend THOUSANDS of hours, and dollars, looking to get more customers to use their product or service. Thinking that’s the end goal.
But they’re forgetting something.
It’s one thing to get new customers, but it’s another thing to KEEP them.
“...customer retention isn’t as sexy and exciting as customer acquisition. It’s a bit of a long-tail effect, and a difficult one to measure at that. But considering that the fastest way to lose a customer is through a single negative customer service interaction, it’s worth taking the time to think through a solid customer retention strategy...” -Spoken blog
Here’s the deal.
Established or new, providing superb customer support is becoming the backbone of the survival of a company.
When a report by Microsoft Global Customer Service states that 62% of global consumers state that they have stopped doing business with a brand or organization due to a poor customer service experience, your entrepreneurial ears should perk up.
We’re going to share with you:
- The benefits of providing above-and-beyond customer support.
- How it impacts your business.
- How we find, hire, and manage our team of remote customer service reps, aka Happiness Officers, that are just as popular as the Strikingly product itself.
- Why speed and quality of your customer support should be a top priority.
And where you can start - even as a solopreneur today - in building a “self-service resolution” page that will not only help your audience, but support your business.
Where the Customer Support Industry is Now
Think back to the last time you went to a restaurant. What was your experience like?
Even if the food was okay, but the customer service was superb, you’ll tell your friends, family, colleagues and coworkers all about it - and why they should go.
Now think back to the last time you went to a restaurant where the customer service was terrible. The food was okay. But the lack of customer service put such a bad taste in your mouth that it makes you avoid that location at all costs.
And ‘yes’ - you tell your friends, family, colleagues, and coworkers on why they should avoid it, as well.
We can all admit that having a positive customer care experience, whether it’s offline or online, can heighten a person’s perception of a business, brand, or service.
We’ve mentioned before how “going deeper, not wider” in building a relationship with your audience, and providing above-and-beyond value to them, can be a major factor to the growth of your business.
One happy customer can equal as many as 9 referrals for your business, according to surveys by American Express. And customers who encounter positive customer care experiences are nearly 3 times more likely to recommend a brand to others.
Quality customer service is becoming such a high priority for companies, that they are putting more emphasis on the experience’s they deliver to their customer, to rein in on that competitive advantage.
Not product, not price - but the customer experience.
Studies from Deloitte show that “82% of business’ are viewing the customer experience as [THEE] competitive difference [between them and other companies within their industry]. [They] view accuracy and the quality of information provided, as well as the ease of interaction, as the most important attributes of a quality customer experience”.
And when you read customer service studies that derive “that even a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to an increase of profits somewhere between 25%-95%” and lift revenue by 15%, you rethink some of your business priorities and realize that customer service is a key component to customer retention.
Now, let’s first go into how Strikingly set up it’s Customer Support team - from the hiring process to the training practices.
Assembling the Customer Support Team
How Strikingly Interviews For The Support Team
“They should know what they’re getting into”, says Allen, the Queen Bee and Lead Officer of our Happiness Officer team, when asked about Strikingly’s hiring process.
To clarify, Strikingly’s Happiness Officers are essentially Customer Service Reps with a few special qualifications. As stated by Allen:
“The interview process, as well as the onboarding training, is tough. Out of 10 candidates, we’ll interview 4, and only 1 will make it through”.
The Happiness Officer Leaders, Allen & Genesis, interview candidates by recommendation only.
There are 2 rounds of interviews for the Customer Support Team:
Round 1: The Culture Interview
“Being a motivated, honest, and socially skilled “people person” is rare enough, which is why in a majority of customer-facing positions, technical skill should only be a concern after these major personality traits are evident”. -Gregory Ciotti
During Round 1 of interviews, Allen checks the candidate's attitude, personality, and how they handle stress. The candidate is asked the usual rounds of questions you would expect, ending with this rather unusual one: Do you curse?
Plot twist! People who curse are usually those that fit right in.
Researchers of the Graduate School of Stanford Business found that “profanity is associated with less lying and deception at the individual level, and with higher integrity at the society level”.
In general, Allen is not only looking for these individual’s motivations (e.g., How do you spend your time after work? What gives you a strong sense of achievement and satisfaction?), but also your EQ (or emotional intelligence).
How does she find that out? By having the candidate write a “happy” breakup letter.
Here’s a sample “happy” breakup letter that moved the candidate into the second round.
This tests the individual’s ability to be empathetic, and clear with their intentions, in an obviously tough (if not awkward) situation.
Accomplishing this says a lot about your character and your ability to communicate effectively.
Round 2: The Skills Interview
In this round, Genesis talks with the candidate to find out more about their customer service experience. She will give the candidate hypothetical situations to find out how they would manage in tough situations.
She knows that the candidate will not know the “answers” to ALL of these questions, but they’re looking for someone who can speak in a friendly tone, making sure to iterate to the user that they understand the situation, and that the candidate is aware of the parts they don’t know.
Allen & Genesis’ Tips for Success:
- See questions as a creative issue rather than a straightforward problem.
- Be positive and personal. Think of the user as your friend! How would you write to your friend?
- Know when to include instructions and when to include a link from Strikingly’s knowledge base.
- Be concise. Avoid long messages.
- Avoid vague language and formal terms such as “sir” and“ma’am”..
Breaking Down Our Customer Support Training Process
After the individual has made it through the interview process, they move onto product training.
Anyone who has ever sold a product or service to another individual, knows that the more in-depth knowledge you know about a product or service - the quicker you can respond to a person’s query.
And as you can imagine, this builds trust in the brand and the product.
Our onboarding training course, which is all done online, lasts for 10 days. Each day, the new employee learning a new set of skills that takes them through the “cracks and crevices” of our product.
The Team Lead, Genesis, answers any questions the trainees may have using a Slack Training Chat Room. If the trainee is extraordinarily confused with instructions, via chat, a direct call is arranged.
After they go live, if a Happiness Officer needs ‘an assist’, they can easily reach out to their teammates in a Slack room - created just for the team. There, they can get help and support to fully handle the customer’s question.
But training doesn’t stop there.
The Happiness Officer Team has a quality assurance/calibration meeting, weekly. At this meeting, the team studies individual performances, as well as, the team as a whole.
If during this performance review, the Team Leaders see that a team member is struggling with the training, the trainee is given up-training.
But get this...
In these cases, the trainee will go LIVE with that supervisor for 1 week - where they will get 1-on-1 training. They are given a room. They are fed 3 meals a day, with snacks. And they will receive direct mentorship from the Happiness Officer Leadership, to become better (if not the best) at their role.
Where Training meets Execution
At Strikingly we get excited about the idea of our Happiness Officers having the opportunity to interact with our users. No matter if you’re a free or paid member, we feel our users deserve to receive quality customer support and over-the-top assistance, that will make them successful in their endeavors.
At this point, our Happiness Officers have been trained on product knowledge and the tone of their approach to Strikingly’s users.
We’ve seen that there two other factors that are critical to customer support success: Going Above & Beyond + The Need for Speed.
Let’s jump into it.
Going Above & Beyond
Strikingly’s Happiness Officer Team exhausts every resource to help our users be successful. This mindset has lead to some interesting interactions such as:
Example #1: Users have asked where to find a job and asked the Happiness Officer Team to critique their resume/online portfolio. They’re directed to Upwork and yes, we do critique their resume. The most common resume feedback has been to add more experience and detailed descriptions (in case you needed help too).
Example #2: A user was building a website for a charity, but didn’t know how to raise funds. We sent them url links to their social welfare government office and directed them to websites like GoFundMe.
And in the end, here is what some of our users have to say about our Happiness Officers:
A survey was even done by A Guide to Website Builders, who rated all the website builders and customer support currently out there. We ranked #2.
And this is what they had to say about our Happiness Officer Team.
The Need for Speed
The industry standard for a response to an email is 24 hrs.
Strikingly’s Happiness Officer team averages an email response at 8 minutes.
For our 24/7 live chat, the longest wait for a user to speak with one of our Officers is 28 seconds. And even then, a Happiness Officer’s backup will take over if no one is online within 10 seconds to respond.
In a report by Microsoft, “56% of consumers said they have higher expectations for customer service now, than they did in 2015”.
If you’re a solopreneur, don’t think this statement doesn’t apply to you.
From the time that you wake up to when you lay your head down to rest, you should be ON TOP Of any questions, concerns, or other statements that people have about your product or service like bark on a tree!
Keep the response times as low as you can. The quality of your answers high. With EQ in the forefront of every response.
Turn all of your alerts and notifications on your phone, “ON”. Set up those Google Alerts. And prepare to please, delight, and offer creative solutions - at ludicrous speeds.
Someone tags you in a Twitter post, praising your product:
“Like” and comment “Oh wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this comment. We appreciate the poop out of you. Retweeting to share the love”!
Someone reaches out to you in Facebook Messenger with a concern: “Hey X! Thank you so much for pointing out this hiccup in our system. We’re on top of it now, and I’ll personally ping you when it’s been fixed. Again, THANK YOU”!
Someone goes on a tirade on your Facebook Page/Amazon/Yelp: “We’re so sorry that you feel this way, and that we weren’t able to provide you the experience you deserve. Please email me here (me@dopespot) with ‘Subject Line: Fix STAT’. If you’re comfortable with it as well, please leave your phone number so I can walk you through this challenge you’re having - step-by-step. I’ll keep an eye out for your email”.
You, obviously, don’t have to use these sample answers word for word - but you see what we did there.
More examples other organizations have used here.
Though before someone “pings” you on social, there is a ‘First Line of Defense’ you can put in place that can save you from repetitiously putting out the same fires.
The Self Service Resolution
If you’re a solopreneur, and you don’t have a budget to hire and train a customer support team, don’t fret. You can still use, to your advantage, a Frequently Asked Question (or FAQ) page on your website.
Over 86% of the 5000 people Microsoft surveyed expect brands and organizations to have a FAQ page [and Knowledge Base articles] on their website.
Consider your FAQ page to be the first line of defense that your visitors use to get the answers to their queries as opposed to depending on customer support agents - or emailing you - their questions.
And an added bonus. You SEO junkies are going to love this.
One way to improve your SEO and increase traffic, for your entire website, is to include long tail keywords on your FAQ page. We’ll get into that in a second.
Here are the assets you should keep in mind when creating an effective FAQ page.
HEADERS & TEXT
Gather EVERY. SINGLE. QUESTION. anyone has ever asked you about your product or service and write that question in the Header section of your FAQ page.
Again, this will allow that question to rank in search engines and contribute to improving your SEO and increased traffic to your website.
SCREENSHOTS WITH DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS
According to research compiled by 3M, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.
Don’t we all follow along better with visuals? Make it easy to walk your customer through the process, by giving them a detailed description, as well as visuals, on how they can accomplish the task on their own.
One of our favorite tools we use, to capture an image on our computer screen, is Snagit. And we add arrows, texts, and any other edits inside Google Docs.
To say that we use this daily, is an understatement.
There’s a reason why YouTube has become the 2nd largest search engine for video tutorials and why so many companies are investing in this medium.
Research done by Animoto states that 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it.
Because, it’s an easy format to follow along to - giving the visitor the ability to start and pause the video at anytime. And they’ll have a clear understanding of how your solution works for them.
For video screen captures that we want to make into gifs, we use LiceCap.
For .mp4 videos we use QuickTime “New Screen Recording” to record the computer screen. And Quicktime’s “New Audio Recording” to record the audio over top of the screen recording. We cinch that altogether in iMovie or Adobe Premiere Pro.
Add a few opening and ending titles, add some music we usually get from BenSound, and we have a video tutorial in under an hour (most of the time).
Another screen recording tool, that is an all-in-one and increasingly growing in popularity, is Camtasia.
The Rules of the Game
So that’s it…
That’s how we have built our All Star Customer Support Team and how you, even as a solopreneur, can build the foundation for your customer support system as well.
Here’s the bottom line.
The best customer service should always be remarkable and focused on alleviating the user’s needs with quality of service and speed.
Quality and Speed. The rules of the game.
And whether that’s through 24/7 customer support or a detailed FAQ section - when you approach users that are business and emotionally driven, this process becomes all the more imperative to you, and your audience’s, success.
What is the most memorable customer support/customer service experience you’ve had? Good or bad. Post it below in the comments!