We’re excited to bring you an interview with Jason Williams, Customer Service Manager at Blueleaf – an all-in-one client portal for financial advisors with motto ”More clients, more appreciation, less work.”
What does good customer service mean to you?
Great customer support responds to the emotional aspects of a customer’s question or issue. Whilst frustration has a functional trigger (ie: a product feature that the user needs help with), the source is always emotional.
We hire customer support techs that demonstrate a high degree of empathy, and train them to craft responses that both address the customer’s question, and respond to the emotions behind the question.
Great customer support also strikes a balance between speed and quality. Customers always give good feedback when they get a fast response from us that also addresses their issue.
What customer service challenges were you facing in early days of BlueLeaf and what motivated you to solve them?
In the very early days, everyone did a little of everything. That meant that everyone worked customer support. We quickly realized that wouldn’t work for very long. Coordination was a challenge and there were very different motivations and attitudes toward providing customers timely support.
We limited customer support work to sales and executives and that improved things. It was a temporary fix until we were large enough to afford dedicated support resources. Now everyone is focused on their own role, and our employees that work on support are motivated to make ongoing improvements.
What KPIs are you using to measure your customer service performance?
We measure our KPIs every month. Each KPI that we track has a measurable impact on our churn rate (ie: if we maintain good KPIs, we maintain a lower churn rate). We track the monthly average Nicereply CSAT as an overall measure of how happy our customers are, and how well we are responding to customer support issues.
Read more: Talking with Your Agents about CSAT
Since we primarily use email-based support, we also track the average time to first response for the month. As well as being a measure of efficiency, quick response times are a big driver towards high CSAT scores.
Lastly, we also track the average handle time for the month. Although this is another measure of efficiency, it becomes more important when we hire new staff. Average handle time will increase when we hire someone new, but decrease as they learn and get more comfortable with the Blueleaf platform.
How do you motivate your team?
Being a small team allows everyone to get individual attention. Blueleaf values their employees above all. For interns, I make sure they continue to learn and get the most out of their role at Blueleaf. For full time support staff, I make sure their role aligns with their career goals, and seek opportunities to expand their responsibilities.
Customer support can be a stressful role, and people working at small startup companies tend to take their work home with them. So I always make sure our employees have a clear separation between when they are off and when they are working, and that they don’t work more that they should. The unlimited vacation policy at Blueleaf also helps with this.
Read more: How to Empower Your Customer Service Team
Motivation is easier to manage with a small team, but I do anticipate this will be one of the biggest challenges as we grow.
How has Nicereply helped your customer service team?
Nicereply has helped us in a variety of ways: Firstly, it gave us visibility into customer opinions that we didn’t have before. Since we are primarily email based support, we didn’t have any measure of how well we were doing beyond the process metrics (resolution time, first response time, etc).
There was some hesitation of introducing a rating system, since we didn’t know what kind of response we would get, and if it would skew negatively. But we were pleasantly surprised when the majority of responses were positive. We were also able to learn from the bad ratings, and improve how we communicate and set expectations to our customers.
Read more: What to do with Bad, Irrelevant Ratings
We integrate Nicereply with a Slack channel that everyone at the company has access to. This means that we get feedback throughout the day on how customer support is doing.
We also integrate ratings with Desk.com, such that cases are reopened when we receive a poor rating, so that we can respond appropriately or escalate the case.
Nicereply has also allowed us to benchmark everyone on the support team, and helps us with employee evaluations and ongoing training.
What would you recommend to other businesses that aim to improve their customer service?
Leverage insights from the data that you have in customer support early on. All improvements that you make to customer support should have a measurable impact.
Thank you, Jason and Blueleaf for sharing your customer service vision and hacks with us! Stay tuned for more at Nicereply Customer Stories.