Customer Support is the Bridge.

A company’s relationship with customers defines its future. A customer’s interaction with a company forever taints how they perceive that company. To put it lightly, Customer Support is a big deal.

For 1.5 years, I worked for Cadoo (an app where you bet on your ability to reach your fitness goals) in Customer Support/Operations. I was placed to manage Customer Support on my own, so my co-worker could focus more on Operations. We regularly helped each other when needed. Start-ups go through a lot of growing pains and Cadoo was no different. Over and over again I found myself dealing with annoyed users. I quickly learned how to read each conversation and understand the proper response to defuse the situation. I found out how to deal with the pressure of high ticket numbers and app malfunctions. I found out how to connect with each user individually. I created close relationships with users.

The Bible repeatedly calls us to be kind to one another. I’ve always found that a great rule to live by. In Customer Support, reaching out with kindness and valuing their current situation has been my mission. It can be difficult to continuously uphold but is always worth the effort.

I remember one user reaching out to me about a feature request. I was able to push my team to take action on this feature. After a couple weeks, I messaged that user to let them know progress was being made. When the feature was launched, I messaged them again. This user expressed their appreciation for my follow-ups. I only remembered this user because I made a note in Intercom and snoozed it every week to help me remember to follow up with the engineers. The engineers also did a great job taking action on my follow-ups regarding the feature. I went above and beyond what this user expected by valuing their request. Valuing that specific user and kindly messaging them regarding their message, transitioned that user to a lifelong commitment to the app.

The more practical lesson I learned was to keep my inbox organized. I created an Intercom SOP to remind myself how to deal with different situations. Intercom has quite a few features that can be utilized in the organization of an inbox. I commonly used Notes and Snoozing to ensure that a ticket was properly resolved. Tags are great for keeping track of a widespread issue. Keeping my inbox organized, allowed me to relax and focus on each ticket.

Another lesson I will note is how to handle stress. Cadoo commonly had bugs and issues that the engineers had to work through. After a big launch, we went from Inbox zero to 100 tickets in Unassigned overnight. I buckled down and tackled them. I gathered information and shared it with the engineers. I kept my tickets organized and didn’t lose my mind in the process.

Customer Support quality can make or break a company. Not only do you want to maintain good customer relations, but you want to upsell the product. Customer Support is the bridge between the company and the customers.

Kill Them With Kindness

“Thank you so much, Leah! You’re the BEST. Keep up the good work.”

“Leah is always here when I need her. She’s so kind and helpful. Thanks, Leah. You’re wonderful. Keep up the good work.”

“I’m a patient guy. And you look so kind and nice, I could wait for ages!”

Yes, I’ve only been working in Customer Success for two weeks. Yes, these are a couple of things app users have sent to me…. But don’t be fooled. It’s not all butterflies and roses. 

I’ve conversed with frustrated users as well. People who blame me for the bug they are dealing with or the inconvenience they are experiencing. When it comes to every user I talk to, my goal is to always “Kill them with kindness”. That saying is often used when you are being treated wrongly. You “kill them with kindness” when you are overly kind to people who aren’t kind to you. 

In Customer Success, you need to be over-the-top kind. 

  • Apologize for the inconvenience or confusion this issue might have caused. 
  • Be friendly at every turn. A smiley face can go a long way in connecting with a customer. Showing them they are talking to a real person. 
  • Be real with them. You can be open about the situation at hand. You can tell them why the bug they are dealing with hasn’t been solved yet. If a customer understands the circumstance, they are less likely to be frustrated.
  • Set the mood. If you are setting an “I’m truly here to help” mood, that can help a customer feel at ease. Make sure they know that no matter what, you will take care of them. 

(P.S. These principles don’t just apply to customer success. If you are kind to your co-workers, boss, business partners, it can drastically change those relationships for the better.)

Not all customers will react the way you think they should. They won’t always be friendly or patient in return. I had a customer who acted like I was the one who made an error. I didn’t take it personally, because the person didn’t know me. They don’t know the people I work with. We are humans dealing with complicated tech and trying to create a successful business. 

Here is where I “killed with kindness”. I apologized for the confusion. I refunded him. I was honest and told him we are humans that make mistakes. If an issue ever comes up, we do what we can to make it right. The user didn’t show me kindness. I treated the user with the same kindness I’d treat someone who was sending me kissy face emojis. (Yes, I do get those.)

If you are consistently kind, it should provide no reason for the customer to be mad at you personally. You can be the middle ground. You can support, encourage, and assure them that the issue is being addressed. You want the issue to be solved just as badly as they do.

How I Made A FAQ Page For A Local Bakery

Bricktown Bakery is a local bakery that has been really popular since it opened. Their customers are loyal and involved. Where I believe they have an opportunity is in the management of online Customer Service. They get many repeat questions on social media and through calls. I’ve looked at their social media and have spoken with the owners; It’s stressful for them to manage. I think that an FAQ page would help them to minimize the number of frequently asked questions they get on social media and over the phone. If they received fewer questions, it would ease stress for the owners. If you want a condensed walkthrough of the page, you can watch this video I put together.

They use Wix for their website so I signed up for a free account. Bricktown’s colors consist of black and white. It’s a pretty basic site so I follow their general style. Here’s their website if you’d like to check it out. I matched their style and started to build the contents of the FAQ page. My priorities were:

  1. For questions to be easy for customers to find
  2. For new answers to be easy for the business to add
  3. For the page to fit in well with the style of the business

I settled on creating buttons that trigger lightboxes with the answer to a specific question. This system would make it easy to add new questions and would be easy for a customer to navigate. 

Here is how I added my button. I clicked Add and chose the button style I liked.

I changed the color of the button, text, and font to match the style of the page.

Once the button was designed the way I wanted it, I had to make a lightbox for it to trigger. 

I clicked Add and chose Interactions. I picked the style of lightbox that would look best and chose it. I changed the colors and font to go with the style of the page. 

I selected No to the lightbox settings so that the lightbox wouldn’t show up automatically on the page. I only wanted the button to trigger the lightbox.

I clicked the button, chose Change Text & Icon. This window popped up and I clicked Where does the button link to? 

I selected Lightbox and chose the lightbox I had just created specifically with the answer to this question. For the business to add a new question, all they would have to do is duplicate a lightbox and change the text.

They would then duplicate a button and change the text on it. They would change the trigger lightbox to be the new one they just created. 

In creating this project, I learned how to navigate Wix and create something that really can benefit a company. I think that this would be a valuable addition to this bakery when it comes to answering their customers get their questions. It would also help the owners have more time to run their business. . The owners of this little bakery know that they could improve their online customer service. They just haven’t had time to find a good way to manage it, so I hope the creation of this FAQ page will save them time and their customers’ confusion.

Customer Success is What Now?

When you work at an apple orchard complete with lots of apples, several food venues, an apple slingshot, a tractor ride, and bouncy pillows, you learn about the apple industry and even more about people. 

I’ve worked in several different areas of this apple orchard during their main season. What does an apple orchard have to do with Customer Success? The majority of my work there included dealing with customers. The main part of my job was making sure the customers were safe and got the best out of their experience. Answering questions, giving directions, dealing with different emotions were some of the ways I used Customer Success skills and I didn’t even know it. 

I recall a busy day at work when I realized how I could affect someone’s experience. I was making ice cream sundaes with no sign of relief in sight.  As I handed them their ice cream, I would apologize to the customers for the wait. Most people were not thrilled that we didn’t have enough employees to keep up with the demand. As I was working, the next man in line leaned on the counter and started a conversation with me. 

He asked how my day was going and how could I make the sundae so fast. I answered him in a light-hearted way and he left with a lot of whipped cream on his sundae. After that encounter, I realized how my job was more than just fulfilling orders. I could make an impact by making a point to have a positive conversation. I made a point to ask customers what their favorite part has been so far. Whenever I did that, we were both left with a smile. Simply making a connection with the customer, improving their experience, made a difference in how they acted. It helped them to be more flexible when it came to a confused order or a long wait. 

It made them feel like a valued customer.

Whenever I thought about CS, I thought of “The Office”. I envisioned a bunch of people taking phone calls and responding to customer complaints. It never seemed like anything worth digging into, but this week I took a deeper look and was surprised at what I found: 

Customer Success is way more than it is commonly portrayed.

I’ve learned that it takes more skills than just the ability to answer the phone. If that was the case, everyone could obtain the role of Customer Success. It takes an understanding of emotions, the confidence to properly deal with them, and thinking on your feet to succeed in a customer success position. It takes not only the ability to find the solution but to explain how to achieve the solution to a customer. Anyone can answer the phone, but whether they have the skills needed for doing Customer Success well is a different story.

At the orchard, I had to deal with a lot of different people. Some customers wanted their food made a specific way, others didn’t know where the restrooms were, and some needed assistance locating a lost phone. 

I learned how to listen and apply my knowledge to help each of them have a positive experience. Connecting with people is so important. A genuine human connection is what can make or break a customer’s experience. During long shifts, I stayed positive and asked the customer’s how their day was going while they waited for their food. I went out of my way to figure out the best way to explain directions. 

Customer Success is about an innate drive to help others. You want your customers to have a positive experience with your business. When they’re frustrated or confused, Customer Success helps them when they need it the most. CS is the business’s personal impression on customers. 

We all can think of times where we needed help, and no one was there. Or worse, when the process to get help was just as frustrating as the situation that started it. We can also remember positive experiences where someone helped you with a smile; how that boosted your confidence and ensured that, whether the problem got solved or not, you were in good hands. 

This week I used this new-found perspective on customer success to create a solution that would improve a company’s relationship with its customers. I found a local bakery that has just launched. I realized that consumers had no way of contacting them on their website. It had online ordering, job applications, and an ‘about’ section. But I realized that there was no intuitive way to contact them. Since this bakery is so new, a clear way to talk to their customers is crucial. So a chatbot would be a valuable addition to their website. With a chatbot, customers would be able to effortlessly ask any inquiries instead of being annoyed because they can’t find a way to get in touch with the business. I made a chatbot specifically for the bakery and made a video walking through how I would set it up on their website. 

I saw a way that they could improve their Customer Success and sprung into action to solve the problem. 

From apple orchards to bakeries and everything in between this is true: Customer Success is not an easy job but it’s essential! It can improve customer-business relationships ten-fold. The job of being the bridge between a customer and a business is not for everyone. I know why it’s beneficial because I’ve seen the effect a positive business experience has on customers. A light-hearted conversation with a customer can make a big difference. Customer Success is necessary for the overall success of a company. It’s about making a connection to customers and making them think, “Wow. I’d be happy to support a company that cares like that.”