Whole-team customer support

The luxury of having an empowered customer support system

A few months ago I was asked to speak at Zendesk’s Relate Live event here in San Francisco. The topic was about how to “create a fan in the moment of failure”— essentially using that pivotal moment when a customer is most in need to not only retain them, but also to make them a fan for life (and a working part of your promoter economy, whereby fans become evangelists for you or your brand).

Rough example of the Promoter Economy

In the talk, I discuss the idea that the best customer service is given by those who actually have the ability to enact some kind of meaningful change for the user — whether that be spotting them for a month of paid service after a technical issue, or being able to actually fix that issue for them on the fly.

As companies become larger and larger, often the customer service agents (who also often have the difficult task of monitoring social media as well) are not empowered enough to help customers in a timely and effective manner, which further strains the relationship between user and brand.

Yeah, all of this sounded really good when I said it in front of that audience, but the fact of the matter was that I had never been truly on the other side of the horn before: I was familiar with managing my own social media feeds and those of my podcasts and shows, but I was never supporting customers for a brand that wasn’t my own.

All of that changed when I joined Growbot. We now have five employees (including our three co-founders), and it’s all hands on deck when there’s a customer support call coming in. As I detailed in another article, we all have instant access to these support messages (via Operator), so whoever happens to be around in that moment is the person on the hook.

A (bad) example of how an Operator conversation works in Slack

As the new product manager around these parts, I’ve found this to be one of the best and most thorough ways to not only learn the ins-and-outs of the product itself, but also to understand exactly what our customers are looking for, and when they’re encountering problems.

I’m happy I’m getting a chance to drink my own Kool-Aid. It’s one thing to be able to pull up a lot of statistics and numbers from internet studies and posts on Zendesk, but being able to have the experience of helping customers in need and fixing their problems is a totally different animal.

It really cements for me that having a “whole-team” system for support, at least while you can, is an extremely valuable tool and resource for getting to know your customers. And of course in my case, getting to know the actual product during my first two months on the job. :)

What does customer support look like at your company? Are you a startup with a tiny team, or have you broken out your customer support staff? When and why? Let me know in the comments! Remember to💙 and share!

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