How to streamline your customer service process to gain in velocity?
“How to streamline your customer service process to gain in velocity” is a panel discussion from the B2B Rocks conference, with Åsa Nyström(Buffer), Gilles Samoun (Salesmachine), Harrison Rose (@Paddle), Martial Graslin(Botify).
Asa Nystrom: My name is Asa Nystrom. I am the VP of Customer Advocacy at Buffer. I run the customer advocacy team which is customer engagement, customer support and all of that exciting stuff. And so I work for a company called Buffer. Buffer is a social media management platform. And so yeah, we help small businesses build their business online presence through social media. And yeah, we are a completely remote company with about 90 people and we’re based all over the world.
Martial Graslin: And you have a very large customer base, so it’s going to be very interesting to speak about your customer base. Then we have Gilles, Gilles Samoun, founder of Salesmachine.
Gilles Samoun: I’m the CEO and founder of Salesmachine. Salesmachine is a customer success solution for SaaS. What we do is that we enable the customers to follow the direct customers’ journey and teach the type of journey, from the signup, trial, paying, conversion, upsell, down-sell. So at every step of the journey, we score the customers based on their profile and behavior and then we trigger actions for the sales team, customer success team or automation.
For example, we have a module that does the PQL, so the conversion of the trial to paying a customer. And we are capable based on the fit and the product usage to improve the conversion rate by 40%.
Martial Graslin: Perfect. And I’m sure we’ll be talking about that later. And to finish the introduction, we have Harrison, Harrison Rose, Founder of Paddle.
Harrison Rose: I’m Harrison, Co-Founder of Paddle. Paddle is a SaaS focused on helping SaaS companies both run and grow. By “run”, we mean taking away all the burden of selling their products globally in terms of payments, check-out, tax, and more. And by “grow”, it’s really helping these SaaS companies needing to be marketed more effectively. We’ve been going for seven years, we’re 150 people and have 2,000 sellers all over the world.
Martial Graslin: Thank you, Harrison. So let’s get into the topic. We are talking about sales. It’s nice to have new customers coming because we are building our companies. But once we have our clients, what do we do with them? The more we have clients, we need to treat them in the most efficient way.
First Asa, you’ve made a choice to change a little bit your organization of customer where you were at the beginning working in a customer success standard organization and now you went to customer advocacy. So if you can describe the organization.
Asa Nystrom: We have 22 people in the team and a few years ago, we went from having just support and started exploring with customer success. We had a small team doing customer success. So I guess it’s a sort of standard customer success trying to engage with customers.
And we found that like our customers weren’t really interested to be chatting to us once they’ve converted. And also, our pricing structure at the time wasn’t really set up for expansion.
So we actually removed our customer success team a few years ago and then just went back to just having support. But having support, we recently introduced a customer engagement team. The customer engagement team works just as it’s literally explained engaging our customers. So we do a lot of onboarding which we have found to be really helpful for our customers and for conversions, but also for keeping them, for the retention. So onboarding, is of course, very, very important.
So we do a lot of demos and webinars and training for high-touch customers. But we’re also in the support of teamwork with support-driven growth. We help with answering questions they might ask us later on and sort of pre-empty that. So that’s sort of the change we have gone, we’ve removed the trending customer success type of team at Buffer.
Martial Graslin: Great. Thank you so much. And we’ll come back into customer segmentation later because you’ve talked about high-touch customers versus the low-touch. Harrison, if you want to describe your customer organization, how would it be today?
Harrison Rose: Similarly, we have that kind of segment. I kind of break them down in three and some of their roles and responsibilities are similar to what you’ve been just describing. We have a seller support team. These are just seven individuals, all based in London and they act like a support team and just handle any inbound queries our sellers might submit, nice and simple. They handle about 2,500 of those every month.
Now, where it gets interesting for us is that we also take on a lot of the support for the sellers actually using our platform. So we handle that reframe request and first, to order related support. And this team is much larger, there’s 19 of those folks split across both London and the Philippines and they handle 22,000 tickets per month. That’s a very different beast if you like. They handle 400 calls across 14 different languages. It’s very different.
And then the third group which sounds a bit more like what you’re describing focused much more on onboarding and the growth of our existing customers and their account managers and that’s the team of seven in London.
Martial Graslin: Thanks. And Gilles, of course, to finish, how organize your customer service team?
Gilles Samoun: Our customer success team is essentially twofold. We have the high-touch customers and low-touch. Everything which is about low-touch is essentially automated and high-touch is personal.
Martial Graslin: And in terms of the population you have, do you have the same people working with the two segmentations or it’s different people you have, maybe customer success working in high profile customers and then you would have more like you guys were explaining support people and so in the query for low-touch?
Gilles Samoun: The customer success team is essential for high-end customers. And all the other interactions are essentially automated, using our software.
The issue is how to retain a customer and it is twofold. One is to extend the user base and the number of users using your product. Second, is the depth of the usage, explaining to them how to use the features which will keep them and make sure they are not going to the competition. So all this, on the low-end, it’s automated, on the high-end, this is all human.
Martial Graslin: So you give me a good transition. So if we come back into customer segmentation, for instance at Botify, we’re working in tiers. We don’t have high-touch, low-touch, it’s not a binary system. We have four different tiers. It’s another way of working. But now, what do you do with that segmentation? How do you organize the processes in order to ease the experience of customers?
Harrison Rose: Lots of things break and these changes all the time. But because of our growth, we’re constantly going through a mapping of every single process that we have in each of those teams. And then, on a deeper level, what are the steps they’re taking in each of those processes. Then we look at, which of those steps are the most common across one of these processes, and how we could automate them or make them more efficient.
And in doing that, rather than just focusing on one process at a time, we take a slightly more holistic approach and get better more broadly over time.
And we have to think in that way because we have two different types of customers. And while some of the steps that we’re taking to support them are similar, the actual processes themselves are very different. So we’ve had to look at it on a slightly different level.
Martial Graslin: And that’s interesting because you said you studied the patterns, you recorded those patterns in order to set processes. My next question for you would be what do you do then with those patterns? How do you materialize this?
Harrison Rose: There’s another step in there. You have to obviously ask your reps what is it they’re doing and sometimes they describe what they’re doing and what they’re actually doing is different, so I would double-check that. And, but you look at those most common both in terms of the frequency and you’re taking the actions and how long they take. And then we work with the support ops team to basically make whatever step it is we’re making more efficient, more efficient.
And, it sounds quite retrospective but the real benefit working with the support ops team as hard is that it’s basically that jobs to spot these bottlenecks way in advance and plan for them in advance so that things don’t break. And that goes well most of the time but you know occasionally, there’s a fire.
Martial Graslin: Perfect. Thank you. We’ll be talking about tools later. Asa, the same thing, you have a large base. You also switch from the startup customer success to customer engagement you said and advocacy, what were the first processes you put in place to ease the process of your team and as well to facilitate the experience of your customer?
Asa Nystrom: I guess with the different teams they have very different processes and there are a lot more proactive processes in place for the customer engagement team versus the customer advocates, the support team. So introducing customer engagement, we put in place or like you know the customers’ sort of life cycle and the different sorts of check-ins, the process around that. We introduced HubSpot as a CRM. We — you know, yeah, the check-ins, the training and all of that, of course, there’s also the onboarding.
So we put together the drip campaigns which the customers receive during the trial and those are the things that sort of came with customer engagement, so a lot more proactive processes in place than support.
Martial Graslin: All right. And next question for you, Gilles because not only you have a customer success team but also you got tool specialized in customer success, so which it’s going to be the main introduction to now tools. In terms of processes for you and your customers, what would be the most important switch in managing clients you would do to these processes?
Gilles Samoun: I mean the first answer that, I mean is what we had on the first process that we have, we’ve done in place is the onboarding. There’s a huge correlation between onboarding and retention. But onboarding means shown at the end. We have put in place but we are also improving it over time. And the second one has been the QBR, so to have regular calls and checks with the customers. After that, you know there are plenty of others but for me, the more important is onboarding.
Martial Graslin: OK. So the start, the beginning of the relationship with the client what I call the honeymoon of the relationship with your customer, it is the onboarding. Now, let’s switch into the tool because once you have set up your processes, the processes are the only retain and you need to, first of all, set it to your teams, but also, you need to enable your team to practice them with tools.
Harrison, I know you are using different tools. Can you describe those tools without doing the commercial? It’s important for us to know who they are and what you do with those.
Harrison Rose: Yeah, yeah. So, on the buyer support side to the real kind of more transactional short-term support, the kind of short tickets about refunds, et cetera. We’re using Zendesk there which I’m sure most of you have heard of. On the seller support side, we’ve tried a lot of different tools and we made them move away from Intercom to the customer in the last year which is a little bit newer.
And for many reasons, we may need to do you with the metrics that allowed us to track and how we actually measure the output and the performance of our teams because we are scaling and more and more of these tickets are coming through. There are certain metrics and measurements you wanted to put in place to ensure that they would scale ultimately.
Martial Graslin: All right. Thank you. Asa, what all the tools you are using to manage your team and your customer base?
Asa Nystrom: So yeah, we use Help Scout for support — for our support team. We’ve used them for a very long time and they’re great. So yeah, we use Help Scout for support, also for our engagement teams. So basically, any customer communication really marketing or engineering, as well as use, Help Scout. We use our own tool Reply. It’s a customer engagement tool, so not at all advertising. But we use it. Right.
Martial Graslin: That’s your own tool you said?
Asa Nystrom: That’s one of our products on our platform. So it’s an engagement tool called Reply. So we use that. We have a huge volume of support tickets over social because we’re in social media, so that makes sense. So we do a lot of support over social media using Reply, we use HubSpot as a CRM which is sort of the funnel as well for when we do sort of inbound sales. We also use Intercom for drip campaigns and sort of in-app messaging. And again, also, Help Scout for in-app FAQs, self-help which is also really helpful. We have so many tools. Those are just the top…
Martial Graslin: It looks like it. Gilles, obviously, you have your tool. I hope your teams are using your tool.
Gilles Samoun: Yeah, it’s mandatory. Yeah, we use the basis — the basement is our tools, communication interaction with customers done with Intercom. And recently, we added Zendesk because Intercom is very good for an immediate chat and immediate answers. As soon it starts to be complex and needs to be researched and et cetera, we need to keep track and draw priorities and et cetera, so we use Zendesk for that. So we have the three tools. So all the customer success work is done in Salesmachine with Playbooks and et cetera but all the rest is done with…
Harrison Rose: It’s just a really interesting distinction. So one of the issues we had with Intercom when we were using it as a support tool basically is that there is an expectation when you’re using that tool of people that is in live chat and we weren’t using as live chat which isn’t the fault of the tool but it was setting that expectations of the persons submitting the ticket incorrectly and then they’d be frustrated. So your distinction there between using Intercom as the live chat tool and Zendesk for your support tickets is really important.
Martial Graslin: Cool. Gilles, you said one word that is very important when you’re dealing with your clients is the — you talked about Playbook. I’m going to translate it to automation to make sure that we’re automating. You don’t automate your Playbook?
Gilles Samoun: No. No. Actually, the Playbook is not automation. But the Playbooks are generating — you know, you can have automatic Playbook which — what we call workflow which everything is automated, sending email, SMS, whatever. But we also have what we Playbook for the customer success which generates task and sequences of tasks that they need to achieve to obtain a certain goal. We differentiate the two Playbooks are for people and workflows are for automation.
Martial Graslin: Perfect. So let’s stay in automation. That’s definitely, for me, one of the trends and we’ve been automating for several years now. If you guys have the example of automation you’ve put in place, that’d be great to share because I know some people are asking us “How do you automate and what do you need to automate? Not to automate too much and leave human beings still be on top of these customers.” So, Harrison, do you want to start?
Harrison Rose: Sure. Yeah, it’s really important that you automate the right things and that’s where the analysis we’re talking about really comes into play. In terms of things that we’ve automated or tried to make more efficient, sometimes these things could be really simple. Think about the actions you’re taking every single day that you want to make more efficient or automate.
We’ve made the process of looking up our sellers so that you can deal with them and help them much fast for example and that you can do that from one click from both Zendesk and the customer. But things can get more technical and more exciting, so the tool that I know that we’re looking at right now, I think we have signed a contract with them. I’m not sure. I don’t know if they’re here either. Don’t test me, please pass to me.
And it’s with the Polydor AI. So rather than replacing people or support people which is this big scaremongering topic that you might read about that we have a really interesting use case with them and that the tool analyzes the text that — and if the ticket submitted by the seller or the buyer, in our case. The tool then serves an internal note to our support team to try and help them answer that query as efficiently as possible such as a link to the order in our system or a suggested response or FAQ for an example.
Rather than directing that ticket straight back to the customer and thus not being human interaction or a check-in place is actually augmenting our team and allowing them to achieve more and do more and it’s quite an interesting use of AI and it allows us to still own that customer experience which is so important to us but can hopefully augment and make our actual support reps more effective at what they do.
Martial Graslin: Cool. Thank you. Asa, do you want to just on that one?
Asa Nystrom: Yeah. No, I think we definitely have a long way to go with automation and AI. We, I think we’ve assisted it for quite some time because we, you know sort of known for being very personal and that sort of recently, we’re now trying to sort of improve automation. At some point, the actual conversations that you need to have and sort of direct and not automated are very personal. But a lot of customers just want to find the answers themselves or not even having to ask the question.
Similarly, with Help Scout, we have everything automated in terms of customer information and sort of going between or different like the admin and you know stripe and all that is automated. The in-app FAQs are automated depending on where in the product you are, so suggested sort of FAQ articles are showing.
There’s a bot, but over social we can’t see the customer’s account, sometimes just by their social media. So we need to always, always ask what email is connected to their account. We have a bot to cutting out like that one person having to ask us that. So we have a bot in place over social media to sort of say, “Hey, what’s your…” “Welcome! What’s your email?” And that sort of cuts down their response time.
Harrison Rose: Does it ask them to tweet it back?
Asa Nystrom: Yeah. Yes.
Harrison Rose: So you have the contact switch because that’s when people get annoyed, right?
Asa Nystrom: Yeah, yeah. So everything stays on social. We try and really keep everything on social that started on social and it’s only really like when it gets quite technical that we do move it over to email.
Martial Graslin: Great. Thank you. An example of workflow, they’re not Playbook since the workflows are automated.
Gilles Samoun: It’s almost changing all the time. Because we are learning, you know we’re testing, learning. Basically, in the end, the aim is to make them use the product more and deeper. I will say that that’s objective and we have two ways, in-app and with email. We don’t use social. You know our customers don’t fit with that segment.
Martial Graslin: So we’ve talked about processes, let’s speak a little bit about customer satisfaction. We have many, many customers, we need to understand if they’re happy or not. Very quickly, a round table. Asa, we’re going to start with you. What are your measurements? How do you track if your customers are happy?
Asa Nystrom: Yeah. We use customer satisfaction scores. We use the one that is inside Help Scout, so it’s a happiness score. So we use that. It’s sort of in every email so the customers can write their support experience. We often find that they rate the product though instead, so it’s kind of really a bit difficult. But we also use MPS. We use a boutique for MPS.
The similar thing there, I guess yeah, it was very helpful beforehand like years ago. Now, it’s maybe not as reliable anymore. The market is very saturated and we’re not as unique anymore. So, but we use MPS, reviews customer effort score as well, we are not currently using it. I think those are… We also do quite a lot of like our product team does quite a lot of surveys. So, yeah.
Martial Graslin: OK. Great. Thank you. Gilles?
Gilles Samoun: We have two things, we have our internal metrics, in-app metrics like this one MPS actually. And internally, we have our own metrics. You know our product is producing the metrics for product usage and you know the sat– not the satisfaction, but the product usage and the…
Martial Graslin: Which kind of metrics are you using then?
Gilles Samoun: MAU, DAU, you know. And actually, that could be configured because all of our customers want to have a different kind of metrics. So we enable them to define their own metrics and based on the product. You know there is a huge trend now. I saw the presentation before and I don’t agree because we need to put in there MQL and SQL, in the middle, you need to put PQL which is Product Qualifying Leads because a lot of this is about the product and that’s what SaaS is bringing compared to the traditional sales funnel.
Martial Graslin: Perfect. Very quickly, Harrison.
Harrison Rose: Yeah. The teams, the support teams specifically are targeting on CSAT like these guys on SLA, so the speed of which the response to people to other really important KPIs to us as well are like ratios. So the percent, the standard number of tickets any seller actually will submit and to, again, try and reduce that through products and FAQs and things like that. And we’re thinking about sellers help the scores right now for the account managers who also work with MPS.
Martial Graslin: Good. Perfect. OK. So we’re already at the end, so that was very fast. A little word of conclusion, we talked about processes, we talked about tools, we talked about the satisfaction of the client, if you have one word to provide to the audience that would help them to understand what it is to actually improve in your processes or whatever you are using for your customer, what would it be, knowing the fact that you gave already a lot of information? So something a little bit different. Do you want to start?
Harrison Rose: Yeah, probably don’t optimize processes for you and optimize them for the customer and what they want I would suggest.
Martial Graslin: Cool. Gilles?
Gilles Samoun: Product usage. You know to watch what they do. I mean have KPIs. I mean that’s what we do and more and more, you know it’s a product-led world now with the SaaS. So we need to really monitor and measure product usage.
Martial Graslin: Yeah, that’s right, very important, the product usage. If your clients are not using the product in the frequencies that they’re supposed to do it, there is a problem that might show. Last but not least, Asa?
Asa Nystrom: Yeah. I think I agree with what the others said. Customer research, have someone dedicated or a product team do a lot of customer research and then sort of combine that with the insights that your customer support team is getting and make sure that you sort of listen to both prospects as well as existing customers.