How to Scale Customer Support Webinar Highlights:
How do you maintain the same high standards of customer support when your 5 customers turn into 5,000?
Companies that are growing exponentially today are realizing how important it is to ensure that even as the number of their customers grow, that the quality of service doesn’t suffer.
Jeanne Bliss, Founder and President of Customer Bliss, Co-Founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, and pioneer of the Chief Customer Officer role, sat down to interview both Chelsie Lee, SVP Customer Strategy at SnackNation, and Denis Drossart, VP Experience at Selina, to discuss their own stories from the frontlines of how they scaled service as they scaled their brands.
Don’t have time to read all these interesting insights? Don’t worry, watch the recording here. (We won’t tell anyone!)
The Journey: How to Scale Customer Support
Jeanne Bliss (JB): “The breadcrumbs. This work takes an interesting set of skills, which is most often than not an uncommon path. What roles got you to this current position?”
Having a knack for human connection and the desire for knowing how someone uses and experiences a product helped start Chelsie Lee’s career in product design. Through this role, she turned her entire career focus into customer experience and revenue that is driven from this. She went on to have a leading customer experience role at Edison International and then eventually her own consulting firm around how to create a really good customer and human experience. When she was ready to own something from “soup to nuts” as she says, she joined SnackNation, about three and a half years ago.
For those that are unfamiliar, SnackNation is the leading healthy snack membership experience. They fuels the coolest offices in America with snacks and beverages. They started out feeding about 1,000 and are now delivering to almost 1 million throughout the US.
Denis Drossarts’ path started 15 yrs ago in the food and beverage business. Starting off as an Assistant General Manager then moving his way up as a General Manager, District Manager, and ultimately VP of Operations. These experiences triggered a passion for hospitality and experience, ultimately leading to his current role at Selina as Global Executive Vice President of Culture & Experience. Also starting at Selina about three and a half years ago, Denis has paved the way to provide customers with a new way to experience hospitality.
Selina is one of the world’s fastest-growing hospitality brands, blending beautifully-designed accommodation with coworking, recreation, wellness, and local experiences. Custom-built for today’s nomadic traveler, Selina provides guests with a global infrastructure to seamlessly travel and work abroad. It is the new generation of hospitality. They started with only 22 hotels are now at 56, and scaling to 100+
Both of their businesses have more than doubled since both Chelsie and Denis started.
Assessing: How to Scale Customer Support
JB: “When you first got your role, how did you assess the work to be done in order to help scale?”
When Denis started at Selina he knew it was important to implement a better customer service platform and IVR support system by assessing how healthy the company was, and through asking the right questions. For Selina, with then 22 hotels, it was important to improve the customer platform tools and do the due diligence required when choosing a new platform partner. They needed to better collect info about their guests, as they were scaling and growing quickly. Figuring out what processes to keep and to replace, in order to continue to create a human connection and value was key. It was important to measure what the current situation was, mapping out a full blueprint of work to be done, and finding the right tool was an important step. As a growing business this piece was super important in order for them to hit their KPIs.
For Chelsie at SnackNation, her assessment started with a framework of focusing on the customer, structure, people, and goals. Starting at SnackNation as a consultant for two weeks helped her get a larger understanding of what she was getting into. She requested to start as a consultant to help her assess the current structure. From there, she was able to take a look at the customer and the people side, which are most important. Asking questions like ‘Do we have the right people on the team with the right skill sets?’ Also, analyzing the metrics and data, retention, and net-churn. ‘What are the reasons people are cancelling?’ and looking at the team structure were all factors that Chelsie was able to assess during her start with SnackNation.
With all of this in mind, it’s also important to ask how all of this was done. As most people are looking for a toolkit or some kind of playbook to help them when starting out at an emerging brand with these roles. Some specific examples that both Chelsie and Denis started out with involved talking to people one on one, understanding how they feel about their role, understanding their strengths, allowing them to see how they shine, what their pain points are, what their customer interactions look like is vital. Getting to know folks on your team is extremely helpful to understanding the overall customer experience as a whole.
Uniting Customer Support
JB: “What kind of communication was given to the rest of the org to prepare people for these changes? How was your work in uniting the c-suite done, when you’re in this fast paced environment?”
As both Chelsie and Denis discuss, experience helps when it comes to being the glue to unite the c-suite – as respect comes from experience, and then from there it’s up to you to make it more clear. It’s important to remember that everyone is on the same ship and having the right mindset, attitude, and speech around the centralized goal of providing excellent service.
For Chelsie specifically, it was vital for her to emphasize and share, through data, that customer experience drives revenue. As she notes, “It’s all in the data and becoming the ‘did you know person’ – figuring out and finding ad hoc insights and creating dashboards really helps unite the c-suite.” With data, and Insights, this creates trust for you as a leader as well.
At Selina, Denis didn’t have a lot of customer experience data to share at the time. For him, the first piece was all about explaining the relationship between an amazing guest experience and the return on investment that’s correlated to this and explaining the value around how the higher your NPS score as a company, the more revenue from customers you yield. The second piece was measuring what the KPIs are and then measuring the return. Having monthly meetings regarding the brand experience of every location with the C-Suite is something that Selina still does where they share results and attribute CTAs to every c-level executive. This helps a lot to unite the c-suite – to have these meetings with goals and CTAs for all c-levels.
It was also important to Denis to get the c-suite to understand that everyone’s work is connected. Getting everyone aligned on what the exact experience they want to give to a guest and coming up with a blueprint of customer experience was crucial. If you start by aligning the language – getting everyone to speak the same language as your c-suite is beneficial – thinking about the customers goals, journeys, emotions so that it unites us all.
Improving Customer Support
JB: “Alright so you’ve been doing this work for a while now. How do you improve things when it comes to both employee and customer experience?”
For Chelsie, the customer experience stems from the employee experience. At SnackNation, they place a large emphasis on what they call the ‘trust factor’ or the ‘trust fund,’ if you will. Each person gets a specific budget to make things right for their customers. Doing this not only helps the customer experience but makes employees feel great as well.
On the customer side it’s all about customization at SnackNation. Having more options for customers has improved retention and cut cancels in half by increasing box types. As we all know, customers love choices.
At Selina, culture comes first. Making sure that employees are at the center of everything is the backbone of their business. “Making sure we know what kinds of behaviors we want to see with our employees and harvesting the right behaviors inside of your ecosystem helps. Once you align on these behaviors you then train people to make them realize how important a certain set of behaviors are.” Selina offers employee activities, or ‘activations’ that help fine tune this wanted behavior. These are all 100% employee engagement strategies to help employees have better interactions with clients.
From here, this behavior is then transmitted over to the customer experience side of things as employees are now trained to help guests in a specific way. “You can have the most beautiful location ever but if the interaction you have with the people that are serving you is bad, then you will never interact with that company again.” Based on this employee activation training Selina saw an increase in NPS with customers, which continues to increase.
Paying it Forward
JB: “What do you know now that you wish you knew then?”
There were two things that stuck out for both Chelsie and Denis on what they wish they knew then and it was getting to know people.
“Focusing on your employees and people, aligning them on your customer experience language. Having a clear plan and the right tools that enables you and guides you to do this.” – Denis
“Focusing on people. Universities don’t cover how to get the right outcomes out of customer experience. It’s important to engage your customers and ask them truly what they want. Understand people’s stories, specifically their customer stories – asking them how their experience is. Use your customer base as a real sounding board. Knowing this earlier on in my career could have helped me move forward. Until you’re looking and talking to a human being – and specifically talking about their experience – this changes things and accelerates things as well.” – Chelsie
Final Thoughts: How to Scale Customer Support
Scaling customer support at a high growth company is no easy task. Learn how today’s top brands in retail, travel, and hospitality are using Gladly’s customer service support software to create seamless experiences by enabling customers and agents to communicate across any channel, in a single place. This turns agents into heroes, and customers feel like people, not case numbers.
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