Lo Marino is a Customer Happiness Liaison at Baydin. Some of her favourite things include, but are not limited to: cheese, laughing at corny jokes, melted cheese, drinking coffee and anything that pairs well with cheese. Baydin makes software that feels like magic and their mission is to help users focus on email that matters. Boomerang, a popular email-scheduling app for Gmail, Outlook and Android, and a bunch of fun little tools like The Email Game (our favourite!) all come from Baydin.
We managed to catch up with Lo and ask her about life at Baydin.
Your official title:
Customer and Office Happiness Liaison
How big is your support team and where is it based?
It’s a team of two people and we operate out of Mountain View, CA.
And how many products do you support?
Goodness! I think we’re up to 7 now (and counting). Boomerang for Gmail, Boomerang for Android, Boomerang for Outlook, the Email Game, Boomerang Calendar, Inbox Pause, and Revive Your Inbox.
Wow, that’s a lot of products! Give us an idea of the number of queries you get per day.
Anywhere between 75-100.
What channels do you offer support in?
Email, almost exclusively. If it’s a really weird issue, we’ll hop on a screen share. We also have a livechat option through our subscription page to answer quick questions about signing up for a paid account.
Tools you use in customer support:
So, how did you go from cheese to customer support?
It all started with a little company called Apple. Back in college, I was looking for a job to help get me through school as a financially independent but completely broke student. I got swooped up by our local Apple store and stayed with the company even after I graduated.
I guess I just love helping people and fixing things, and customer support gives you both, especially customer support in the tech industry.
As much as I loved working there, retail hours can be nuts. Which is why, now, I’m here at Baydin.
So, what does a typical day look like for a Baydin support rep?
We’re not an office of morning people, so we get started a bit later (around 10:30am Pacific time) than most people [just like us!]
But once I’m in the office and caffeinated, I’ll typically go through all of the emails that arrived since we left the office yesterday and clear them out by lunch time. After lunch, I have a little bit of time for random administrative activities (i.e paying bills, running to the post office, tidying the office, etc.). Then I’ll hop back on email until we’ve cleared it out for the evening.
A team of 2 must make taking time off really hard. How do you manage time off from support?
Recently, we started having a ‘free’ day every month where I get to work on things that I’m interested in.
I am learning to code, so I take that time to learn what I can with the end goal of building some tools to make running support even better.
That is awesome. Tell us about your toughest day at work.
When we launched Boomerang for Android, there were a couple of weeks – when I was the only support person – where we would simply be swamped. I was going through a few hundred messages a day!
That sounds exhausting. How do you motivate yourself (and your fellow rep) day in and day out as you support loads of products?
This is tough. Even when you believe in the products you support and in your team, there are days when you can feel defeated.
I find a good combat tool is a great cup of coffee and a playlist full of epic film scores – try it, you’ll feel like the king of the world. Or at least king of customer support.
Also, it’s important to encourage your team in their passions outside of work. Maintaining a good work/life balance is very important to keep your team motivated.
This was only one time, but the weekend before Fourth of July, I told Noah (our other support rep) I would buy him one beer for every time he slipped ‘murica into an email. It ended up being a fun challenge, and at the end, Noah got his beer.
Haha. That’s a brilliant motivation strategy. I’m totally going to lobby for that one. Tell us about a really memorable customer interaction.
A woman emailed us, once, requesting Boomerang stickers. She wanted us to send them over email to her. The only problem? Our Boomerang stickers were of the physical variety. And subsequent interactions revealed that not only had she never used Boomerang for Gmail but she had no idea who we were, either! She just wanted some digital stickers; she also asked us how to use them.
On top of this, she lived in New Zealand. On the other side of the world. We ended up sending her a few stickers, but it’s still a mystery how she found us.
Let’s talk numbers. What do you think is the most important metric that a support rep should keep track of?
I think you need to keep a good balance of speed and quality. On one hand, if you answer all of your messages within an hour but they require multiple follow ups or the rep is providing an answer to the wrong question, that’s not great.
You can compose the best and most thoughtful response in the world, but if it takes a week to get to the customer, they’ve already lost interest so that’s not great either.
So, We’re going to throw some situations at you. Tell us how you’d react to them.
a) What do you do when customers keep asking you about a feature that’s in the works but is getting delayed due to some unforeseen complications?
If something is in the works, we’ll say we’re working on it. Depending on how persistent the user is, I may elaborate on why it’s taking longer – for example, our entire company is only seven people. And only two of those seven are developing full time, which means things can take a lot longer than we would like too. We’re hiring though! Please come work with us.
b) What if it’s a feature that you’re never going to build?
Sometimes we have to say no, and it has nothing to do with the customer. This can be as frustrating for us as it is to our customers.
And the main reason we decide to ‘never’ build something is simply because we can’t. Expressing that in our responses helps them understand we’re not saying no because the request was bad or dumb.
Whenever possible, I try to provide a workaround that will accomplish what they’re trying to do, or at least something similar.
c) How do you deal with refund requests? Do you plug in the sales rep at some point to try to bring back your customer?
Our general policy is no refunds. But we’re human and we understand that there can be extenuating circumstances where a refund is the right solution for a customer, and in those instances we will honor them.
d) A customer wants a feature that’s not on the plan he’s on. How do you handle it?
I don’t know if this gets at what you’re asking, but we did have a customer suggest a great idea for an hourglass folder (you put your messages there and give them an expiration date at which point they will be archived or deleted). This is perfect for things like coupons or promotions that are running for a limited amount of time, and after that they’re essentially useless.
We ended up building this and including it in our toolbox with our Premium subscription plan, which was designed for our power users. I thought it would be nice to give the script to the customer who thought of the idea, even though he wasn’t on the plan it was designed for.
e) When things get ugly: a frustrated customer threatens to not only leave you but to make sure that none of his clients use you in the future. How do you handle this?
This depends completely on the context of the situation. In general, most of the customers I’ve run into that got this upset was due to a misunderstanding of some sort. I’ve typically gotten great responses when I say ‘I’m sorry. This was not my intention. Let’s try to make this right and come to a good resolution.’
Nearly everyone will ease up when you shoulder some of the blame (yes, even if it’s not your fault).
And trying to work with them rather than tell them what to do helps make you and your customers a team, working together towards the same goal.
g) What do you do when a customer reports a bug or security vulnerability?
If we encounter a customer who is very helpful in helping us get something resolved or uncovering a bug, we’ll usually offer a shirt or a free month of Boomerang. We love giving away swag!
h) One of your reps makes a tiny mistake that greatly annoys a customer. And she’s just getting more and more frustrated by the minute. What do you do?
Mistakes happen. It’s inevitable, and nobody is immune.
I’ve made mistakes myself, even this week. When we make mistakes, we take steps to make it right. That will look different in each circumstance, but we’re not afraid to admit when we’re wrong. More often than not, it makes people understand that we’re human too, just like them.
Give us some dope on your hiring strategy. What do you look for when hiring support reps?
Well, our sample size is pretty small, but based on the people in the team, I would say awesome people. In reality, we’re looking for an interesting person who can hold their own with our small but opinionated team. Plus it’s important that they have some understanding of what we do.
Productivity geeks make great support reps.
The type of people who have tried every list creation app in the app store to figure out which one is best would get along great here.
A random genie appears and decides to grant you three wishes. However, it warns you that you can’t wish for more wishes or genies. What would you wish for?
1) An endless supply of cheese
2) Magically low cholesterol (because of all the cheese I’ll be eating)
3) And of course, let’s do something good for the world – end hunger
In terms of customer service, which company would you say you admire the most?
Two come to mind. Apple (I know, I’m biased) and Nordstrom. They’ve figured out how to make customers happy on a massive scale.
We started the Secret Sauce series to find out more about what makes the customer service of some great companies click. We get in touch with one awesome support representative and we pick their brains. We find out what a typical day is like for these support rockstars, their personal work-philosophy, support process and what inspires them to go above and beyond the call of duty to make their customers happy. Know a customer support rep you’d like to see featured here? Drop us a line in the comments or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.