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Customer Service: Front and Center for SpringAhead

The SpringAhead office in San Francisco is a standard startup office — big open room, people building and coding, a skateboard shelf near the door and a huge monitor displaying the status of customer cases in the center of the room. Wait, what? Customer support stats aren’t typical startup decor — or in any office, really — but at SpringAhead, the entire company keeps an eye on customer success.

It’s just that important.

“The standard operating procedure we have internally is that all cases need to be responded to within a certain timeframe,” says Jordan Estreito, manager of customer support and implementations. He heads up a small team in the 30-person company fielding customer support questions. “The board is a monitor that lets us know if cases are outside of that time frame and lets the entire organization know that that case is outside of that timeframe.”

SpringAhead is an online platform that helps businesses with the collection and approval of timesheets and expense reports. Customer-support agents have to be savvy about any accounting programs the platform integrates — so if a customer calls in with frustrations about something in QuickBooks, for example, support staff is ready. “We want to be that person’s smart friend, we won’t kick them off the phone, we will be there until they’re happy,” says Estreito.

99.9% Customer Satisfaction — With a Smile(y)

SpringAhead’s goal is making sure every customer is in a “good spot” once they’ve had an interaction with the support team. Since bringing on two years ago, the company began continuously measuring success by polling each and every customer after a support interaction.

SpringAhead Smiley Score

“I think when we started we were in the 70s and just last month we took the entire support team on a cruise around the bay because we got a 99.9 Apdex score,” said Estreito. Apdex is an industry standard to help measure customer satisfaction.

How did they get to 99.9% customer satisfaction?

“We decided to implement something, it doesn’t have an official title, but we call it the ‘smiley score,’” Estrelto explains. When a case is resolved, customers are sent a standard resolution follow-up email. “Then they’ll get another email after that that says, ‘hey can you rate the person you worked with?'” The customer chooses one of three smiley faces: green means good, yellow means the experience was OK and red means they weren’t happy with the experience. There’s also a spot for customers to type in feedback.

Based on what the customers said, the support team gave the resolution email a more streamlined look and made the tone more friendly. “When we changed it, we got a better smiley score!”

Estreito recommends specific steps for gathering and acting on customer feedback after the case is resolved:

  • Ask your customers for feedback about your support communications to help your choice of words and tone evolve.

  • Follow up the resolution email by sending another email. In SpringAhead’s case, an additional email goes out after the smiley email to confirm the customer is in a “good spot” and to get back in touch if anything else is amiss.

  • Automate the process through

Using To Keep Customer Satisfaction High

“We’ve been able to change habits in Desk to be able to customize and create new rules to create a better experience for our customers,” he says. SpringAhead also uses powerful custom macros and simple quickcodes to resolve cases efficiently.

“We use a number of macros — we have an ACR (Awaiting Customer Response) macro for customers we've followed up with and we're waiting to hear back from. Once they respond, the macro changes to “Customer Responded.” says Estreito.

SpringAhead also has a number of macros which automatically sort cases into new labels and statuses like Feature Requests, Escalation and Billing Inquiry. When the macro is applied to the case, it's routed and assigned to the correct group or person.

SpringAhead has grown but support staff has remained lean. “We’re at a point where we’re able to support thousands of clients, with two people always in the queue and three people that shift in,” says Estreito. “We have more clients than we’ve ever had and had we’re able to support them with the same amount of people that we use to have before Desk.”

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