FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Now SnapEngage live chat features include advanced Call Me. Your website visitors can place a Call Me directly thru their computer using a headset or mic and speakers to call from anywhere in the world for Free! <for more details see below>
In an age where more and more business is being conducted on the Internet we are often confronted with challenges that have never existed before. When you stroll down to the local shop “Awesome 3ft Cakes” there is a helpful clerk at the cash register, perhaps someone stocking shelves maybe even a baker proudly displaying tarts and treats. When you stop to admire the cornucopia of goods you will most likely get a personal greeting.
“Hello, thank you for visiting. How may I help you?”
“Actually yes I was wondering about that beautiful triple chocolate 3ft monstrosity you have there, is it raspberry filling?” you ask sheepishly.
Typical interactions to say the least and most likely you now want cake.
Let’s fast forward now and throw in a bit of teleportation for good measure placing you in front of your computer but on vacation in Papua New Guinea. You just remembered you need a cake delivered to your house on the day you return to the States but completely forgot! Quickly you go to www.awesome3ftcakes.com. Well they have a great collection of photos to browse through but you have some questions, what to do? Thankfully you notice a pop up in the lower portion of your screen with a picture of the baker.
“Hello, thank you for visiting. How may I help you?”
“Actually yes you can, but please forgive my slow typing. I was injured in a Wolverine washing incident earlier today.” You sheepishly type back.
“No worries just click the Call Me button and we can talk on the phone or even through your computer using your mic and speakers.”
“No way!” you painfully single finger type back wondering what type of witchery is this?
Throwing caution to the wind you eagerly click on the Call Me button and are presented with two options
Well seeing as your headset was already plugged into the computer and not relishing the thought of reaching into your pocket for the cellphone with all the bandaging on your hands; why not… here it goes, you click the Call from my Computer icon. A small pop up comes into view asking you to allow access to your microphone and webcam but knowing that this is a voice call there is no need to primp your hair.
“It’s ringing!” your inner monologue exclaims. Then you are greeted by the sultry sounds of your local baker who proceeds to direct your page to a variety of lovely cakes while you chat away using nothing more than your headset giving your battered fingers a rest.
Not only was the day saved and the cake ordered you were so impressed with the awesome service and realizing how many people you would need to feed you upgraded to the 6ft cake. Also turns out the baker used to be a professional Wolverine wrestler and had some helpful tips for you to try next time. Reflecting on an amazing vacation you lay your head down and think to yourself I’ve got to check out that SnapEngage when I get home, THEN my site will truly rock!
Answering support emails isn’t exactly glamorous, and if you asked your team if anyone wanted to take responsibility for answering them, few would raise their hand. And why would they? It can be distracting from the other tasks you’re doing, and you’re likely to run into similar questions over and over from:
People who want to learn about your product
Customers who can’t figure out some technical issue
Customers requesting features
One reason a CEO might object to answering support queries is that support issues are focused on one user at a time- and as CEO part of your job is to focus on the grand issues- satisfying thousands of users and not on supporting individuals.
Despite this concern, and especially in early-stage startups, there are several compelling reasons to answer support emails as a CEO, ranging from keeping close to the customer to keeping the rest of your team focused.
Here are my five reasons, can you think of more? Have any objections?
Reason #1: Direct Feedback From Customers
Answering support emails and chats is the best way to get direct feedback from customers. As someone responsible for guiding the product vision, this feedback is invaluable to understanding what your users expect and how you’re meeting those expectations. Setting up a solid customer support system (like with SnapEngage) speeds up the development cycle and is a relatively cheap way to improve the product quality.
Reason #2: You Aren’t Shielded From Product Issues
Pushing this task on someone else means you don’t have to directly deal with customer complaints, which makes it easier for you to ignore them or write them off. But when you have to individually respond to 10 customers that have the same problem, their problem becomes your problem. When its your problem, you become quickly motivated to get it fixed quickly. And their problem is your problem, so this is a great way to align your customers’ interest with your own.
One example from TripLingo was feedback we got regarding audio quality on our first release. I heard this several times, and besides the customers being right, it was a great motivation to get it fixed. We’ve since built a new sound studio and re-recorded all of the 50+ hours of audio that we did initially in a poor room for recording.
Reason #3: Your Engineers’ Time is More Valuable Than Yours
Startups have few employees, so if its not you doing the customer support it’s likely someone on the engineering team. And lets face it: the technological challenges your engineers face are typically more complex than your own challenges and require their focus. And while they could probably do many of the things you do, non-technical CEOs can save precious engineering time by being the buffer between engineers and the customer.
The market supports this idea. A good engineer makes probably $150K. A similarly ranking marketing officer might make half that. Further, part of your job is to keep everyone else happy, and you won’t make your engineers happy if you ask them to do support.
And engineers, don’t take this too harshly, but developers often aren’t the right face for a company in a delicate area like support. Many lack the desire, sympathy for technologically-challenged users, and the patience for dealing with such a front-facing aspect of a company’s operations.
Reason #4: It Forces You to Be Up-to-Speed on Technical Issues
Having a grasp of what is going wrong for customers is helpful in prioritizing and having a firm grasp of the technical issues you’re facing. If someone has a technical problem, I let them know that I’ll talk to our engineering team to see if we can figure out what the problem is. Then, I talk to our engineering team. Not only does this serve as a filter of sorts for helping the engineers focus on their task, but it also ensures that I know what’s going on technically that’s causing a problem.
Reason #5: Customers Appreciate It
If you respond promptly, courteously, and helpfully to customers, they really appreciate it. Mainly because they’re not used to that level of support. They also like that the CEO, someone who has influence at the company, has taken the time to address their concerns.
I’ve probably gotten 5 or 6 angry emails from customers where their tone is really aggressive and they are upset. Its amazing how their tone changes when you respond nicely. We offer a 200-year 100% money-back guarantee, and I proactively offer this to each customer that reports a problem. This high level of support often takes people aback, and every time except once the other person has apologized for their tone because they felt bad for the way they sent their email.
Bonus Reason: It’s the Right Thing to Do
We take selling our product pretty seriously, and consider offering support to our users a part of that transaction. Undoubtedly you’re familiar with the terrible support offered by some companies, and it never fails to infuriate. Each of those instances is a missed opportunity for that company to delight you, to impress you, to gain you as a true fan. But offering solid support isn’t just an opportunity, we believe its a responsibility. So make it happen!
We use SnapEngage for answering customer support issues via email and instant messenger. We love SnapEngage (and I originally wrote this for ourblog, but then offered to have SnapEngage post it here). SnapEngage is relatively inexpensive, and it gives your customers the option to email you or have a live chat. Live chats come through over Skype, which integrates well into my routine and makes it easy to answer questions. There are four of us on our account, so if I’m not around then someone else can answer the query as well.
It obviously doesn’t make sense for Steve Jobs to answer Apple support issues- he’d have no time for anything else. But as you’re getting started, you DO have the time, and for the reasons outlined above I strongly believe that startup CEOs should answer these questions. For TripLingo, we’ve been able to engage with hundreds of customers, get critical insight into bugs or issues faced by our users, and even gain a few fans in the process. When you’re fighting for every inch, offering exceptional support is a pretty easy way to set yourself apart.
Sun Tzu a 6th century Chinese General once said, “If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles”. Sometimes doing business feels a little bit like you are sauntering out onto the field of battle ready to tackle an enormous force rallied against you. When faced with such a challenge it always helps to be prepared and level the playing field anyway you can. If you are an intrepid general then you already know the power that is SnapEngage and wield it with strategic fervor. Now what about knowing others? Thanks to a new upgrade in your SnapEngage arsenal now you can know even MORE!
We are pleased to announce our newest integration with LeadFormix. “Hold the press!” you say, “just what is this LeadFormix aside from having a really cool name?” Well why don’t I let them tell you a bit more:
“LeadFormix is a highly proactive, cloud based, B2B Marketing Automation 2.0 platform that helps identify and create sales opportunities by measuring visitor intent. It provides unmatched actionable intelligence to qualify opportunity accurately and provide a scalable solution for targeted response, using a state of the art data mining engine”
Well if that doesn’t sound like a battlefield upgrade I don’t know what does! Now at the start of your chats you will automatically receive detailed company information like address, phone, website, # of employees and industry.
To enable LeadFormix with you SnapEngage account simply go to the Plugins section in your SnapEngage account: