Why Everybody on Your Team Should Watch Your User’s Session Recordings

Tony Hsieh, founder and CEO of Zappos once said:

We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department; it should be the entire company.”

Tony’s Zappos is one the biggest poster brands for putting the customer experience, service and support at the top of their value hierarchy. They have revolutionized the way e-commerce sites communicate and support their customers and set a new bar of expectations on what good service looks and feels like.

Customer experience, service and support only recently became mainstream as a core company culture for many upcoming companies as well as long existing brands.

Tony Hsieh joins a long line of customer service-focused founders, such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Paul English and many others.

These companies changed their way in structuring their approach towards building their customer support team and creating a culture where everyone in the company provides support.

At Zapier, they call it “all hands support” because everyone in the company (including executives) is providing support.

Zappos — All about customer support

Why should your company embrace “All hands support”.

Wade Foster, Co-founder of Zapier, explains how getting all team members into customer support benefits your brand and product, making these 6 points:

  1. Customers get better service
  2. Your team learns directly from customers
  3. Support Becomes Faster, easier and less Expensive
  4. Your team touches the whole product
  5. Support gets the respect they deserve
  6. You build empathy into the core of the culture

Everything comes down to improving the relationship you have with your customers.

By getting your entire team on board with support, you’re able to create a culture with that relationship in mind.

Depends on the stage your company is at, doing customer support can have different benefits for you and your product.

For early stage startups it can be very insightful: help define their product and target audience, save money, help document process and problematic flows.

For bigger companies it can help prioritize needed features, establish better automation, reveal ongoing product problems, better define positions in the company and more.

While the benefits for the company are pretty clear, some might also say there’s a problem with this new approach.

Laura Roeder, founder of Edgaer, has a good point against this trend. In her post, Stop Insulting Your Team by Making Everyone Do Customer Service , she explains:

Being excellent at customer service is a finely-honed skill, just like being a Ruby on Rails developer. Our CS reps have spent years in the field practicing the craft of making frustrated customers happy and happy customers thrilled, and being the liaison between our customers and the rest of our team.

In other words, putting everyone on Customer support can also be disastrous because:

  1. You’re getting your team out of focus — it’s hard to prioritize what to work on without anyone buffering the complaints and problems users have. It makes it harder to look at the big picture without seeing stats of everything that’s going under the CS role.
  2. Being good at customer support requires a set of skills that might not all of your team members have — and might actually result in a bad experience for your customers.

So how can you get the benefits of a team that provides customer support without making them actually do it?

Because it doesn’t matter how you put it, your users still have high expectations from you. And you have to meet them if you want to grow your product.

“Experience support” is all about solving problems and understanding what your user needs — Click To Tweet

Go from customer support to experience support.

The biggest values in doing customer support is all about getting to know your users better, what’s troubling them and how to be more empathetic to their needs.

Customer support is a great way to experience and learn more about your users, but you’re also learning about a very specific segment of your users — the ones who encountered problems with your product.

It gives you a glimpse into what’s not working for your users, but is far from giving you the full scope on how they really experience your product and how they feel while using it.

After all, if they’ve managed to get what they needed from your product, the chances of them emailing you and telling you about how frustrating the process was, are slim.

If you’re really trying to learn more about your users, have real empathy towards them and deliver a better experience, you might want to step back from customer support and get behind the “experience support”.

Experience support” is all about solving problems and understanding what your user needs from within your product. It’s about the product being more user-centric.

Focusing it more to the full experience your user goes through and capturing the things that are bothering them — maybe not enough to contact support, but enough to make your product a tool they use, not fall in love with.

If customer support is more about talking to the users on what their problem was, experience support is about analyzing how they use the product as they use it, in order to create a better product experience.

There are many ways to track the real user experience. You can do record user sessions, look at behavioral analytics, use heatmaps and so on.

You want to get your team, the ones who’ve built the product, to really see how their users are experiencing it.

Your support doesn’t come into action when your user gets stuck and already have a problem (a bad experience) with your product.

Your support comes to play before hand — because you can fix the small stuff that your user might not complain about, but is getting them to fall out of love with your product.

Seeing is believing. And Video is the best way to show it.

Track the real user experience

Get your team to care about your users on a whole other level.

Customer support is all about people.

While your team might be happy, friendly, human-loving people, eventually customer support goes one step away from your product, and gets deeper into human relations, more than classic product technics.

Your developers and designers probably care about your users, but they would rather focus more on the product than helping support tickets all day long. And in a way they are right.

It’s hard enough to build a culture where the ‘Why’ of the company matters to everyone, so making them support the heart of the culture, might not always resonate with roles that are not necessarily user-facing.

But do you know what your team members surely care about? Their work.

Your product, the one your users use, is something your entire team had something to do with. Developers, designers, sales, marketing. They’ve all put in the effort to get those users on your product. Some of them acquired the users, others built the actual app.

For example, by getting your team to watch user session recordings, you are giving them a front row seat so they can see how their work is being perceived, used and experienced by the users.

They get to see what their hard work made possible, and where they still need to perfect it.

This actually gives your company the perfect balance between being product focused to being user centric. Closing the gap between all departments and eventually being hyper user-centric.

It’s easier to align your team around watching users behave than answering support tickets — just because this directly affects and is being affected by their day to day work.

It’s easier to align your team around watching users behave than answering support tickets — just because this directly affects and is being affected by their day to day work.

Teach your team to ask the right questions about your product.

Watching your users video sessions together is great to expose your team to what actually happens with the result of their hard work. But it also gives them a deeper understanding of the product itself.

If you’re asking the right questions while watching the user session recording, you start looking at what your users are doing and why, in a new way.

Your features become more than features, they become enablers for your users.

Your entire team will not only care about solving problems, they will learn how to ask more meaningful questions about the essence of the features and the product itself.

They will focus on how your users, that now have a very clear buyer’s persona, are using it and what they want to achieve.

It’s easier to align your team around watching users behave than answering support tickets — just…- Click To Tweet

Everyone in your team now has the same goal.

If you’ve ever watched a user testing go bad, you know how heartbreaking it is.

When you think you’ve done everything right in order to direct your users to make the right choice and help them achieve their goal, in that split moment of a video, you see how they’ve missed your point and get frustrated or even fail to get any value from your product. That’s what I call user testing go bad.

Even if you follow the best practices, and take into consideration every common mistake, you still might find yourself in that situation.

By making everyone watch and analyze your user testing video, they can all really feel the pain and confusion your users feel.

This will encourage all of them to focus on one mission — giving the user a better experience. Making the product better and more user-centric.

In conclusion:

The key to making your entire team really care about your users is to show them how they are interacting with the product.

It’s about getting to really see the experience through the users’ eye — both in usability and intent.

While doing customer support makes you more empathetic to the users’ situation and their main problems with your product, getting everyone on board with watching usability tests and session recordings will get you and your team an insight regarding what they are really going through on the most personal level.

When you care about that, you become truly customer-centric, without losing focus on building a great product.

Originally published at blog.getjaco.com on April 27, 2016.

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