Great article and really insightful ideas from a man that built several companies around customer support!
Desk.com Sells for $80 Million Just 11 Months After Product Release; Founder Tells How (Page 3 of 3)
Categories: Strategy and Leadership
Tip #7: Learn how to identify customer support DNA.
"There is a very particular profile for a great customer support person," Bard says. "I was just talking about this with one of our customers, and he said that support people are born with a specific set of attributes that makes them successful. I think that's true.
"The first thing is you have to have the DNA you're looking for -- the right attitude. That gets you 99 percent of the way there. Most customers are looking for acknowledgment. You want someone to say, 'Yes, I hear you, I understand,' and, second, you want resolution.
"But the tone of that acknowledgment dramatically influences the satisfaction of the resolution. Do they embrace the problem I'm having, or is it cold? That will wash over into how feel about the customer feels about the company.
"In the software business, or at least most software businesses, the second thing you're looking for is someone who's technical. They need to understand the ones and zeroes of the question, and know how to take that into the organization and close the loop on the question.
"You can't predict it, but you focus on the attitude when you're asking questions of a prospective hire: 'Tell me about a difficult situation you were in, and how you handled it. What are your personal passions? What's your mode of communication?' And you'll get a pretty good idea just from the way they communicate with you
"You should know the type of questions you've gotten from your customers, so you can pose to prospective hires a very specific example. The more related your questions are to your actual business, the better picture you’ll get of how they'll work with your customers."
Tip #8: Customer support metrics should not be based only on efficiency.
"The most most important metric is your customer satisfaction rating," says Bard. "You can tell by a customer staying with you, and, at the same time, the 'wow' team is getting you feedback.
"Then, look at all the other stats -- but those are more important in understanding staffing, rather than trying to drive the cost down. Zappos' president tells the story about one of their reps staying on the phone with a customer for eight hours. Do you really want all your reps on the phone for eight hours?
"Probably not, but now that story has gotten more attention, and has helped to build and enhance their reputation as a company that really, really cares about making customers happy, one that has a focus on customer satisfaction."
Tip #9: If you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to jump off cliffs.
"The best business advice I ever heard came in two parts," Bard says. "The first part came from Reid Hoffman; he said, 'Being an entrepreneur is like is jumping off a cliff, and building a plane on the way down.'
"A lot off people don't get launched because they don't jump off that cliff. They over-analyze.
"The second half of that advice is, 'Make sure you're not building a bike.' That means, get out of the building, talk to customers, make sure you're building a real thing that real people want.
"Too many people come up with an idea, and they build something in their mind. They never validate."