The String and Key Crew: April Troester

Madelyn Cuello
Jun 22 · 5 min read

As part of our ongoing employee spotlight series, we’ll be profiling colleagues who inspire us. Today, meet April Troester.

Company Role: Head of Customer Service and Support

Most likely to: Be the quietest person in the room

Secret talent: Playing the flute

As a kid, our customer service superstar, April, moved around a lot — from western New York to Texas and up to the midwest before finally settling in Durham, North Carolina. With childhood aspirations of becoming a doctor or a veterinarian, she made her way to graduate school, earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry. But, she didn’t find a thrill in that. So, moving on, she went to work as a scientific language editor for non-Native English-speaking researchers at a startup. She took on the responsibility of resolving customer complaints and discovered she liked fixing problems for customers. With her new passion realized, she grew that role into a customer service leadership position over nine years, where she also saw the startup grow into a midsize company.

Looking for a new opportunity and realizing she missed the startup life, she found her way to String and Key, and well, here she is. She’s only been with us for a couple of months now, but we’re super excited to see how she propels our service and support team forward.

Let’s get to know a little more about April.

What do you do, and what does your typical workday look like?
I’m building out our customer service and support team, so right now, I’m working on getting everything ready to help customers. I have set up standards and I’m hiring and training our first customer service representatives. I’m also anticipating what customers will ask and establishing responses and resources to help our reps respond quickly. My typical day involves asking a lot of questions, drafting new responses, working in Zendesk, and planning for the future.

What’s your favorite part about working at String and Key?
I love that String and Key is really focused on creating a great customer experience. So much thought, research, and planning has gone into the products, design, and messaging. I obsess over customers and feel like I’m at home with other customer-obsessed teammates.

What excites you about your job?
I love working with people who have really new and innovative angles on problems, people who are challenging the status quo. String and Key approaches financial services with that disruptive spirit. We are going to shake things up — who wouldn’t be excited about that?

What do you find most challenging about your role?
Despite doing our homework, there is so much uncertainty when you’re doing something really innovative. It’s a challenge to put yourself in the shoes of customers who don’t know you yet and figure out what they will need. I have to set up a team with all the skills and knowledge on great customer service, a team that can learn and adapt quickly while innovating and evolving.

What are the values that drive you?
Being honest and transparent about decisions and actions is a big one. Also, being responsible and accountable for your results by following through on what you need to do (and admitting mistakes). I’m also driven by growth and learning, and I’m always trying to be a better version of myself.

How do you stay on top of your game?
I read the Harvard Business Review daily to keep up on my leadership and management skills, and to learn about emerging business trends. In addition, I subscribe to Better Allies’ 5 Ally Actions newsletter to keep examining how I am acting as an ally to all my colleagues. I’m also part of the Support Driven Community of customer service professionals.

What drew you to tech and what excites you about the industry?
As tech grows and replaces more of what people used to do, customer service has begun to fill a void by providing much-needed personal and emotional connections to customers. I think that’s an exciting place for customer service innovation and strategy, where it’s appreciated for the value it provides to the business rather than a cost center.

What’s one thing — either industry-related or not — that you’ve learned in the last month?
I follow the research around COVID-19 pretty closely. I recently learned about a connection between disease severity and whether or not you can taste bitter flavors. There is a known link between people’s perception of taste and their immune response. Moreover, testing your ability to taste bitterness could be a pretty easy way to predict your susceptibility to getting severely ill from COVID-19.

If you could swap places with anyone at String and Key, who would it be and why?
I would swap places with someone on the creative team. They have come up with some really interesting stuff, and I would love to see their process in action. I bet they also have a ton of fun working together.

What unexpected subject could you give a one-hour presentation on with no advance prep?
Gene expression in eukaryotic cells. I did my doctoral dissertation on mRNA expression and export in yeast cells and published three academic articles on it. I still could probably give a presentation on it, almost ten years later. I don’t know that anyone would want to hear it, though.

What keeps you busy outside of work?
I spend time with my two daughters (six and four years old), two cats, one dog, and husband. We go for nature walks and try to spot new creatures my girls haven’t seen before. I also cross-stitch while watching really dark TV shows when I have some alone time.

Can you list five hashtags that describe your personality?
#Funny, #WhyIsMyKidCrying, #DIY, #Foodie, #TrueCrime

Lighting Round:

Soft tacos or hard tacos?
Hard tacos.

Go forward in time or go back in time?
Forward.

Pictionary or charades?
Pictionary.

High tech or low tech?
Low tech.

Email or snail mail?
Email.

Interested in working at String and Key? Join us!

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