Our support strategy almost ruined our business (+ how we fixed it)

We'll take you through our customer support journey, from 2014 to now, and share how our good intentions almost made MailerLite's foundation crumble.

May 12, 2021

Customer support has always been our focus, it’s a service that will never go out of fashion. We’re continuously trying to improve the ways we offer support to our customers. This hasn’t changed. Our approach, however, has.

In this blog, we will take you through our support journey and let you in on the story of how our good intentions almost ruined our business.  

You’ll learn why a great idea can end up being your biggest failure, and how to recognize this (by learning from our mistakes). 

Let’s start by traveling back in time and begin with our first experiment.


2014: Everyone is a support member

In 2014, we started our first customer support experiment. Back then, we only had MailerLite as a product. Once a month, everyone at MailerLite worked at Customer Support. It seemed like a great idea! Our entire team would get to know our product and customers. 

After a year, our COO Ilma raved about how “it was one of the best decisions we could have made.”

The experiment seemed great as having people from other areas in our support team helped us to see situations from a different angle. 

If a designer is talking to a customer about their campaign, they could suggest improvements or offer our custom template service. A technical person might not have thought of that.

Similarly, if one of our marketing managers would talk to a customer and see their open rates, they could easily add in suggestions for their email strategy. 

This experiment benefited both our team and our customers. Our company stood out because it felt more personal and dedicated. Our team members had more drive and patience since they only did customer support once every month.

Even five years after we started the experiment, our customers still remembered that everyone, including our CEO, answered support tickets.


2016: Uh-oh, our product started to crumble...

In 2016, we realized that our product, MailerLite, had become more powerful and complex. This made it hard for people to jump in every month and successfully close tickets. 

With everyone having their own tasks to do, many employees could only answer generic questions, not specific ones. This led to lower quality support for our customers. 

On top of that, MailerLite's foundation started crumbling.

You see, when a Developer works in support, it could happen that they created a custom solution for a customer to help fix their problem. Though the intention is great, the result wasn’t.

A couple of years in, we realized MailerLite was full of custom-made solutions that weren’t compatible and burdened our development process.

We did not foresee this problem until we experienced it first-hand. This taught us that it’s important to think experiments through and keep reflecting and reinventing as you go.


2021: The success strategy we use for support today

Today, we have an amazing support team that helps our customers 24/7, not just for MailerLite, but for all of our products. Our CEO and developers are focusing on their own tasks, which turned out to be a much better solution for all of us.

The biggest advantage of our current team is the fact that we’re a remote-first company. Our strength lies in the fact that people can get in touch 24/7 and there will be someone wide awake to offer support.

Our team members are working from Canada to Thailand and from Lithuania to Honduras. We operate in three different shifts (day, evening, and night). Each team has its own lead, works independently, and shares responsibilities and tasks. 

For example, Laura works from Portugal. Her vision on how to offer outstanding support is: 

“Be empathetic, always. If customers reach out, it is important to them. No matter how busy or long the day is, you should treat each customer like the first one. If you don't know the answer, ask the customer for more details. Sometimes they don't know exactly what they are asking but you can find out together.“

Laura, Senior Manager Support

All teams work proactively to improve processes and try out creative ways to solve certain issues. Though response time is important, we focus a lot more on the quality of the reply and the experience for the customer.

Every month, the shift leads review the email and live chat ratings that were given to the support agents. Within their team, they then discuss what went well and what strategies can be implemented to improve the team's performance. Although we have a satisfaction rate of 98%, there are always things we can continue to improve.

When we see that an implemented strategy works, the shift’s team lead shares the findings with other support teams.

For example, Silvestras advises to really put yourself in the customer’s shoes to better understand their situation. 

“The key is to understand what kind of person you are dealing with. Does the customer like to joke, is he/she serious? What emotions is the customer showing? What is the time there now? What’s the age and location? All these factors help to adapt to a specific situation and act accordingly.”

Silvestras, Shift Lead Support

After years of trying different methods, our current strategy feels most beneficial for our business and customers. 

Since our support team is our front desk, we need them to be very informed about our products and their features.

They’re also the first ones to know when we are having an issue. We’ve set up systems so it’s clear how and whom to inform. 

The same goes for the requests. We created a separate space at Notion where support members write down integration and feature requests from our customers:

As a SaaS business, people expect us to constantly improve our product and make it more powerful. Though features are important to us, we put high emphasis on delivering great support. This is why we keep reinventing our customer support. From the looks of it, our 2021 strategy is what we’ll stick with for a while.


Takeaways

  • Before you experiment, think of what long-term consequences might cause trouble. What are things that could go wrong and how do you prevent it? 

  • Yes, it’s fun to talk with the CEO, but our customers’ priority is to get their questions answered as fast and correctly as possible

  • It’s easier to come up with creative solutions when people know their job and responsibilities

  • We believe customer support is a main competitive advantage. Your happy customers are the best marketing and source to grow your business

  • The support specialists are the front desk of every company. Make sure they get all updates, features, and information first 

  • Create a clear communication process for requests and issues

What's your customer support fail? And how did you solve it?

Ilma

I’m Ilma, COO at The Remote Company. I love seeing our customers succeed. When they win, we win.

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