knowledge-base-1

That One Time I Created a Knowledge Base

I’m extremely lucky to be working at a place like UserVoice. The people are exceptional, the company is a clear thought leader in customer service, and they care about me and my professional development. Last year I spoke to our CEO about starting a nonprofit on the side and he

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5-tips-for-keeping

5 Tips for Keeping a More Accurate and Consistent Knowledge Base

At the last Customer Service Breakfast we discussed knowledge bases & documentation. I got a bit jealous as one breakfaster told us that she has a full-time employee focusing on documentation. Most folks attending breakfast had someone doing documentation part-time while also answering support tickets, and that can make your documentation

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air-bnb-customer-support-scaling

How Airbnb Scaled to 24/7 Support in One Month

Airbnb has had massive success by being extremely customer-focused. Despite naysayers, they’ve successfully built a huge business around a community marketplace for people to rent out their homes. People love it, and the company is always trying to figure out how to better help these customers. Last July, Airbnb made

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Don’t be scared of using video in customer service

Humans are visual creatures, and our primary form of visual communication is video: 4 billion videos are viewed a day on YouTube, resulting in 3 billion hours watched per month. 1.3 billion movie tickets were sold last year. Netflix streaming accounts for 25% of North American internet traffic.

So why aren’t

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Customer Service Scaling Stage Six: Guiding a Force Beyond Your Control

This is part of our ongoing series on Scaling Customer Service, based on our Customer Service Scaling Timeline.

customer service scaling timeline stage 6Whew, you’ve finally made it to the final stage of our timeline. You’re a huge enterprise company with many customers and staggering amounts of revenue. So, you’re done, right? Of course not.

As you move into Stage 6, the infrastructure we put in place previously is going to help you immensely. But you also have a lot less control over individual interactions. You’ve got a huge team and a huge customer base who are doing so many things that you can’t hope to read them all in the day. It’s time to ensure that you are building a culture that will turn this into positive results, not a mess of bad, inconsistent support.

Some things you’ll want to think about in this phase:

  1. A customer-powered support community. Although we feel this doesn’t work for 99% of companies, you’re now at the size where you may need to guide your community to help each other in order to keep up with the size of you’re customer base.
  2. Ensure that you’re building an internal culture of quality support, because you can no longer control it all.
  3. Investigate pre-written scenarios for new hires, to give them the right approach – both specific to that scenario and in general – to helping customers.
  4. Do not let you standards slip. Yes, there’s a lot going on…but if you can’t answer customers at the same rate you did in Stages 1-5, they’re going to be disappointed and start looking elsewhere.

Stick with us as we take the dive into the final stage of our timeline!

training-your-customer

Training your Customer Service Representative (in 5 Steps)

This is part of our ongoing series on Scaling Customer Service, based on our Customer Service Scaling Timeline. This month we’re covering Stage 5.

So, you’ve hired your first full-time customer service rep. You found the right candidate. Now how do you turn them into a lean, friendly, ticket-answering machine?

1. Orientation

A

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Customer Service Scaling Stage Five: Letting Go While Ensuring Quality

This is part of our ongoing series on Scaling Customer Service, based on our Customer Service Scaling Timeline.

customer service scaling timeline stage 5Here we are at Stage 5 of the Customer Service Scaling Timeline. You’re no longer a plucky startup. You’re becoming a company, with all the good and bad that entails. Your team is growing, which means you can do more – but also means that you have less direct control over quality.

Stage 5 is all about putting processes in place that ensure quality and avoid becoming the traditional call center, where nobody can help you and everything takes forever. Here are some of the parts of scaling gracefully into Stage 5:

  • Scale tools before team. Video. Webinars. Classes. How can you proactively educate more people rather than letting them run into issues and have to wait for a response form the support team?
  • Consider reintroducing live chat. Now that your team is significantly larger, you can have someone dedicated to it, which is what it requires. Your customers will love the instant response.
  • Implement a CRM. As your company grows, it’s harder to yell across the room to find out about a customer. A CRM will allow you to keep continuity across different service channels and employees…even if they don’t know each other.
  • Training is all-important. You can’t watch every staff member, and you shouldn’t have to. Make sure you have significant training to not just give them the tools but also the cultural education to maintain your level of quality.
how-to-hire

How to Hire your First Customer Service Representative

This is part of our ongoing series on scaling customer service, based on our Customer Service Scaling Timeline. This month we're covering Stage Four.

If you're at Stage Four of our timeline, you're past the ramen days of your startup and it's time to hire someone to do customer service full-time. But figuring out who should fill that seat can be tough. The skills required aren’t nearly as tangible as those of a designer or developer. How do you determine if someone is going to be a good customer service representative?

man with free hugs sign

They must actually want the job.

Seriously. Many people say they’ll do customer service but actually want to become community manager, CEO, etc…or just are looking for some cash until they move on to the next thing. Find that rare person who actually likes being helpful.

They must have huge levels of empathy.

For anyone, responding to support ticket after support ticket can wear you down. You can learn skills, but if you don’t come in with a high level of empathy, you’ll break quickly. And that's when the cursing at customers starts.

When to hire more support agents? Scale quality, not quantity.

This is part of our ongoing series on scaling customer service, based on our Customer Service Scaling Timeline. This month we're covering Stage Four.


About our guest blogger: Judi Huck is a community consultant whose current primary goal is to develop community at FeverBee and around The Pillar Summit, which provides professional community management training. Judi joins us today to provide a rebuttal to yesterday's post on using metrics to determine when to hire more customer support agents.

neon burger signSupport isn't flipping hamburgers. Or if it is, it should be like working at the Shake Shack of burger joints and ensuring quality every step of the way.

How often do you hear friends complain about bad customer service? I seem to notice these types of complaints on a regular, if not daily, basis.

Instead of support being an investment in customer happiness – which it should be, in my opinion – support is often a high-volume, low-customer-satisfaction practice. The danger is that, more and more, we are living in a world of perfect information. Consumers are able to share everything. If you have an awesome product, they'll blog about it. If you have horrible customer service, they’ll tell everyone they know.

To an increasing number of people, stellar customer service goes hand-in-hand with awesome products. Having a business that caters to one side without putting appropriate emphasis on the other is a recipe for disaster.

The reason why so many customer service experiences are often unpleasant is probably they are undervalued by management. Because of the level of support that many customers experience, it could appear that support is a distant stepchild to other aspects of running a business like marketing, lead generation, what have you.

5-reasons-why

5 Reasons Why you Shouldn’t Have your Intern do Support

This is part of our ongoing series on scaling customer service, based on our Customer Service Scaling Timeline. This month we’re covering Stage Four.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with interns. I’ve met some supremely motivated and talented interns.

 

But a disturbing number of startups turn to their interns to

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