Four essential character conflicts to look for in customer support employees, and the one single quality they all must possess
I’ve been in the management and customer service business for longer than I care to admit, but as the decades have rolled by, I’ve learned a thing or two about what to look for when hiring and training a stellar customer success team. And at the risk of offending sensitive ears, I think it’s worth stripping off the candy coating of HR for a minute to lay out the bare necessities required of anyone who represents your company to your customers. Too often in writing job descriptions and interviewing candidates, we focus on ascending progression of job titles, tech-dependent skill sets, and required degrees and certifications. Instead, look for customer success representatives with qualities that are unique to the human experience. To create a customer service team that performs at the highest level, learn to look for these four character conflicts.
Driven by results, but also enjoys the process
Results-driven employees can be a dream to manage, but not without the discipline and patience that’s often required when learning about a customer’s issues. Sure, it’s great to be able to check a box and provide support for a customer in minutes. But in many business, especially in the world of SaaS, it’s often necessary to approach customer issues with a set standard for process of elimination and a structured diligence. Many people find this infuriating. Ideally, you hire folks who can’t help but mull over clients’ cases after hours, despite the fact that you’re not paying them to do so. When interviewing, ask about a time when they had trouble solving a problem and ask about their approach, how long it took, if they felt like giving up, and whether or not they sought help. If this Sherlock Holmes quality is in their nature, they’ll probably have a few examples to share and likely report fairly specific details of their problem-solving process as well as deep satisfaction at finding a solution to the problem. Continue reading
Understanding how it works
Also known as ‘sales rank,’ Amazon ranks products on an hourly basis according to how much time has elapsed since one was last sold. So if an item has just been sold, it’ll have a pretty high ranking, as opposed to something that’s been languishing for a whole hour. Here’s an example showing the best sellers rank on Amazon for Joe Wick’s book, Lean in 15, which is currently ranked at number 12.
What does it really mean?
What many buyers get confused about is what exactly the sales rank signifies. While it does speak to, and we quote Amazon here, “how well a product is selling overall, it doesn’t always indicate how well an item is selling among other similar items.” It’s a rather isolated measurement, as opposed to being able to compare it within and across categories. Also, the short time-frame during which the best sellers rank is calculated means that it’s an extremely small sample pool. Say you’ve got a very small sales rank number (i.e. as close to 1 as possible) — to assume it’s a hot seller may be incorrect, as the buyer, could simply be looking at something that’s been sold just a few seconds or minutes ago. Continue reading
Written for Bronto Software by Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst
It’s a fact. Someone will unsubscribe every time you send a batch promotional email. And while we all hate to see our subscribers go, wouldn’t you be open to a higher unsubscribe rate if it meant increasing your revenue? How you view your unsubscribes not only affects your email strategy and its revenue potential, but it also influences improvements you should make to your automated messages and your yearly list growth goals. Let’s discuss.
People unsubscribe for a variety of reasons. The most common include receiving too many emails and irrelevant content. Often, the “too many” threshold is actually determined by the proportion of irrelevant content, those situations when the content is meaningless to the reader or fails to change from one message to the next. I know of retailers who send every day, or even multiple times daily, whose unsubscribe rate is no different than the retailer sending only a few times each week. While there may be an opportunity to drive additional revenue by increasing sends, we need to recognize the full impact of those sends on a subscriber database.
At what point do the inevitable unsubscribes begin to hurt your bottom line? Determining the cost of the unsubscribe is an important step to answering that question. Knowing the cost can help you optimize your sending strategy throughout the year, particularly when planning for periods of increased sending, such as the holiday season. Read more
Guess what? We’re going to Bronto Summit on April 24. Shoot us a note an let’s meet up in person: email@example.com. Better yet, register now for our upcoming webinar with Bronto on April 11: How to Build a Better e-Commerce Email Campaign.
5 Advanced solutions for managers who want to take it up a notch
Aside from working an unsustainable 70-hour work week and hiring expensive contractors, there are few additional—somewhat more complex—things managers can do to get the work done, run an efficient department, and foster a sane work environment for all.
- Implement a marketing technology stack. To make you all more efficient, accept that you’ll need to leverage the appropriate tools. Sometimes companies make the mistake of waiting too long to implement tools that, in the long run, would save time, help with lead acquisition, increase conversion rates, and provide a better understanding of your different programs. As soon as you can, start implementing modern marketing solutions such as automation tools, collaboration software, and customer relationship management. First you’ll need to figure out what tools are right for you, but the sooner you can start implementing some of that infrastructure, the easier your life will be in the long run.When you take over a small team, look at the historical efficacy of the technology tools that are already in place. Because product improvements and features change quickly, take time to evaluate each tool’s cost and how it’s being used. Take a look at how you can improve their efficacy or get rid of them altogether and find something more useful for the same cost or less.And don’t be afraid to plan for a miracle. In my experience, whenever there’s extra budget at the end of a fiscal year, you have about five minutes to decide what to do with it, otherwise, it’s gone. To prevent impulsive decisions based on panic, keep a prioritized wish list of solutions you would implement if you had the budget such as bringing in a contractor to handle PR, automating workflows, utilizing an A/B testing program, or outsourcing a big web development project. Have a business case about what each of these would cost and help you accomplish so you’re list is realistic and your recommendation is taken seriously.
- Develop regular maintenance processes so you can do ad hoc projects without upsetting the apple cart. Maintenance is not the most job in the world, but there will always be basic things that you need to cross off the proverbial list every day or week. The more you can turn those tasks into processed, automatic to-dos, the more time you’ll have for moments of creativity, strategic planning, crisis management, or inevitable ad hoc projects. When your goals and plans are in place and your workflows are predictable, introducing process can help you find some much needed breathing space in your schedule.
- Test, test, A/B/C/D/E test. Be proactive by creating a regular practice of A/B testing. Test everything from messages, images, concepts, forms, etc. This will help you more easily introduce innovation and problem solving to a small team. When you’re a small team, sometimes you’re just trying to get through the day and innovation falls by the wayside. A/B testing your messaging on a regular basis will help you become more proactive versus reactive. It’ll help you get to a message that resonates with your audience faster, and it will actually make your team look larger than it really is.A/B testing can be pretty simple. Whether it’s comparing the subject line of an email that’s going out or the titles of webinars or articles, there are several cost-effective, easy ways to test. In the long run, if you can hone your message and learn what really works for which audiences, you’ll save your team bucketloads of time and money.
- Measure. Decide what you want to measure, why and how you will use the information to improve on programs. This can be a bit more complicated than it sounds. Oftentimes, folks want look at the number of leads I brought in. But if the leads themselves aren’t going to sales until they’re sales-qualified leads, then is that metric really helping? Are you looking at the conversion rate versus the number? Do you care if they’re MQL and then SQL? Clearly there are many different ways to measure.First figure out what number is going to help you prove the impact that your marketing programs are having. Then collaborate with the sales and executive management teams to understand what they’re looking at and for. And if you can handle being brutally honest, figure out what measurement is going to justify your existence and budget as a marketing team.
- Put your measurements into action. Once you come up with reports, frequencies, and levels of detail that make sense to put everyone on the same page. The goal is to understand the impact your programs are having so that they can be modified, left alone, or enhanced with more budget.It’s a pretty common scenario—marketing managers think their reports are just phenomenal (and they are), but then they don’t do anything with that information. I recommend using those measurements to help you define and inform your next set of programs, or determine the next partnership that you’re going pursue, or guide your next messaging campaign. Use your measurements to leverage resources to then continue planning. When you look at the measurements and are able to start incorporating some of the findings into your future programs, you should start seeing impact on a monthly basis.
How do you know if these advanced hacks are working for you? From an external standpoint, when your brand or company is perceived as larger than it is, you’ll know you’ve done a phenomenal job. And when your partners and customers assume that your business is more established and experienced than it is, you’ll know you’re on the right track.
5 Simple solutions for managers who haven’t got time for the pain
At the risk of stating the obvious, when retailers first launch, they’re usually not able to expand their marketing team at the rate that they might like. In the meantime, they assess their team and resources and try to figure out how to fill the gaps. I’ve worked with marketing teams as large as 50 and as small as two, and have learned that running a department efficiently comes down to a simple set of best practices.
- Be transparent. Create a list of both short-term and long-term goals and share them frequently with your department, sales team, and executive management. Set the parameters of the terms and make sure your goals are in alignment with the company and all relevant departments. This sets both individual and company-wide expectations, gets everyone on the same page, and confirms that your group is moving in the right direction.In setting goals it’s important to know your perspective relative to the size of your company, whether you’re just one person or a team of five or 10. Seeing your team in this context will help you prioritize, keep a realistic balance of tasks that are both easily achievable and professionally challenging, and adjust the lists as tasks are completed, lagging behind schedule, or no longer feasible. This ensures that everyone stays busy but no one becomes overwhelmed, and if a team member does become overwhelmed, you’ll have the freedom and visibility to adjust resources and goals accordingly. Maintain a “no surprises” policy by keeping open and friendly dialogue about team and individual goals at your regular meetings. Continue reading