How Spotify Keeps 99% of its Customers Happy

Chug Abramowitz is the Vice President of Customer Support and Social Media and Marketing at Spotify. Chug is very, very good at his job. Spotify has over 60m paying subscribers and 140m monthly active users, and according to Chug (and most other people), ninety nine percent of them are happy customers. So how does he do it?

Chug revealed all in a recent episode of the Voxpro Studios podcast series about kickass customer experience — you can check that out on iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher. But let’s face it, everybody loves a good listicle, so read on for Chug’s seven tips for nailing customer support, Spotify-style.

1. Go find your customers before they find you

If you talk about Spotify on social media, they will find you, and they will contact you. This kind of proactivity really sets Spotify apart from so many other companies out there.

“When anyone has an issue on social media we try to help them out and we want to do that as quickly as possible. We use some tools to do that, tools that do Boolean searches and look for Spotify — whether people are twitting directly at us or @Spotifycares, or if they just mention the name Spotify — and then we filter those out and try to deal with anyone who has customer support issue. We really try to get back to them as quickly as possible. I’d say we get back to the vast majority of folks in well under an hour and a half.

I think a lot of people on social media now are looking for a response because so many companies respond, although that wasn’t necessarily true when I joined Spotify four and a half years ago. But there is a percentage that are surprised when we reply. Our team usually replies with the right tone of voice so they’re always pretty happy about it.“

2. Use the right tone of voice

What does your company sound like? Spotify knows exactly what it sounds like and it needs its advisors to sound like that too.

“We really focus on having an easy, personal and fun tone of voice — we want our advisors to be a little jokey and have a good time with our customers.

Right now we do email, chat, and social, and we have profiles for each different type of advisor. Then we have very thorough training programs that we take them through. We usually start all our advisors with email because that is a one to one relationship and then once they become comfortable with how to handle the basic case types then we move some of those folks into the other channels where we focus more on tone of voice. Social is one to many relationship and we really care that the tone of voice is perfect there.”

3. Put your ‘Superstar Advisors’ at the heart of scaling support

Spotify is scaling exponentially all of the time — tens of millions of new customers every year. What’s their secret to scaling CS at the same rate? The frontline.

“Scaling Spotify’s support function to match the customer base has been one of the biggest challenges of the last four and a half years of my life! When I started at Spotify ago we had around eighty advisors, and the social team in its initial formation was like ten. Today the total number of advisors is well over one thousand and the social team is over two hundred.

It’s about setting up great processes and having experienced hands come in to really help us manage, but then also taking our superstar advisors and helping them grow their careers and getting them involved in traditional support roles like QA. We now have advisors working on business process for us, and we have advisors who work on our NPI group — this is basically the team that goes throughout the company and tries to find everything that is going on so that we can then train advisors up, because advisors are our trainers. So our core internal support staff is heavily weighted towards people who have been on the front line and have done the work.”

4. Commit Random Acts of Kindness (RAKs)

At Voxpro we go ‘above and beyond’ for every partner — we don’t just do the agreed job and hit the agreed targets, we work harder, surpass targets and surprise partners. This is the same approach Spotify takes to their customer relationships.

“We want to surprise and delight customers and our Random Acts of Kindness are a really great way of doing that. One of the initial RAK’s the team came up with was putting a message in the Playlist titles which we’ve been doing for almost five years now.

We’ll go and create a playlist and the titles will say something like ‘Thanks Bob, great that we got this fixed for you, we hope you have a great day’. When a customer opens up the playlist and reads the message it really blows their mind.”

“What’s amazing about our ‘message in the playlist title’ RAKs is that the advisors created it. We have a shared playlist that our internal team listens to and everyone can add music and I think the team got frustrated with some of the songs that people were adding and they started putting messages in the team playlist that said “hey this song stinks” or something like that. Then somebody saw that, took it, and started doing it for customers. This has been one of the keys of our customer service.”

5. Create a great company that people are proud to work for

Spotify is a very, very cool brand with a lot of fans, and a lot of those fans actually work for the company. This shines through in the customer support.

“We are very lucky. I think people take great pride in working for Spotify and whether it be the internal folks or the outsourcing partners that we work with, I think everyone’s proud to be part of Spotify. When people find out I work for Spotify, I would say nine out of ten times they get a giant smile on their face. Maybe one out of ten times they’re like “what is Spotify?”, that does happen occasionally, but it happens less than less and for the most part you know people really are fans what we do.”

6. Have a ‘Positive Active Attitude’

It’s no longer enough to help your customers, they’ve got to know that you want to help them.

“When I worked at Belcon one of their core company values was called ‘Positive Active’, and we’ve thought about that in terms of how we respond to customers at Spotify. We always try to go in with what we call ‘positive active attitude’ where we always respond in a positive manner, but we are also always actively trying to help. So every single correspondence, every back and forth, we want to be showing that we are taking action and trying to help you out — and we are doing it with a smile on our face. I have really found that ninety nine percent of people respond to this positive active attitude and you can turn them around. I’m not going to lie, one percent of people are probably miserable, but if you can get 99% of people happy with the support they’re getting then you are doing a pretty good job.

They key is to think about every single interaction you are having with your customers and if you combine those two things, again I think you are going to win 9 out of 10 times.”

7. You don’t need to be the first, you need to be the best

The future holds a lot of technological change for customer experience, and Spotify plans to wait until the right time to adopt it.

“We want to be where our customers want us to be, and we want to give them amazing support. I think in the AI / Machine Learning / Bots world we don’t necessarily have to be the very first company out there doing it, but we want to be monitoring it very closely and as soon as the technology is where needs to be, we want to be there as quickly as possible and we want to be doing it in an amazing fashion. We will not just be doing it to get cheaper, we’ll be doing it to get cheaper and to increase quality at the same time.”