Nick Sayers is the Director of Customer Success and Help at Moz. He’s responsible for proactive and reactive conversations with customers that lead to retention, increased revenue and happiness at Moz.
When he’s not saving the day, Nick is involved in independent filmmaking and has produced/written/directed a feature film and many shorts. Moz, formerly known as SEOMoz, makes software that makes inbound marketing easy.
We managed to catch up with Nick and ask him about life at Moz.
So what’s your official title, Nick?
Director of Customer Success and Help. But I’d prefer to be known by my PSN Gamertag, game_over_hudson.
And how big is your support team?
Moz has 18 awesome mutants – 9 Customer Support, 6 Customer Success, 2 onboarding content makers. Oh yeah, and me. All stellar humans with a knack for helping folks become better Moz Pro users and marketers.
Where is Moz based out of?
Everyone’s from sunny Seattle, Washington. We also do some training at The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning.
That was my dream school. But they had some very high admission requirements. How many products do you support, by the way?
About 5 products. Moz Analytics, Moz Research Tools, Moz Local, Followerwonk, and Moz’s API. We also support our community which is around 300,000 people.
What channels do you guys support?
Email, live chat, our forums, limited phones for billing, social networks, and telepathy.
Team Help, Moz.
Let’s start at the very beginning. How did you end up in customer support?
My undergrad degree is Religious Philosophy, with an emphasis in Zen and Taoism. So I have no clue.
Actually, studying the world’s religions gave me a knack for exploring and expressing empathy.
I’ve also always loved teaching people how to do “stuff,” which Moz values more than most things. The company evolved from Rand Fishkin’s blog, which was all about teaching people how to do SEO. Part of bringing transparency to an industry is knowing how to educate people.
What does a typical day look like for a Moz support rep?
I like to imagine that everyone on the team plugs their psychic mutant ability into Moz Pro and telepathically solves customers’ concerns.
In reality, someone will log into the helpdesk and our chat client. From there, we’ll look for trends in the ticket queue or anything we need to communicate to our engineering team. Each mutant in support does a little more than 20 new tickets a day and replies to any open tickets. We give everyone the freedom to create their own workflow. Some folks will answer reopened tickets first, then hit our open queue or vice versa.
Beyond day to day stuff, the Moz Help Team is involved in larger product decisions and represents our customers in a lot of meetings.
Each person picks a product/project to represent the team in, which makes them an expert on customer feedback as well as the future of these products.
Then they go home with a lot of sunscreen on and sleep in coffins (I think).
Phew! That’s a packed schedule. Even with the amount of time spent sleeping in coffins. How do you motivate yourself (and your team) day in and day out?
It’s not hard, because we’re well fed, awesomely compensated, and a positive group. That said, we have really heavy months and times when the team feels spread thin. In tougher times I think it’s better for me to push strategy or other meeting-intensive activities off to the side to support the team. I do this by picking up support tickets, trying to sit down with everyone to come up with a plan, or buying them lunch. Being present as a leader really helps them feel supported and heard. That’s the most important thing I can do to motivate everyone.
Taking time off must be difficult. How do you manage it?
I don’t take many vacations. It’s been more than a year since I’ve taken time off for travel. My wife and I just had a daughter 9 months ago, which is more the root cause than support. I think the team takes a fair amount of time off, which is ideal. You need it in this role. A nice breather can refresh your attitude if you’ve been in a rut and give you a break from being a proverbial punching bag.
Tell me about your toughest day at Moz.
I had to let someone go. That day was terrible and the week leading up to it was torture too. I’m friends with everyone on my team; I know their pets, kids, significant others, and sometimes parents. Going from being a positive force in someone’s life to the person that has to let them know they don’t have a job anymore is one helluva transition.
What’s Moz’s policy on rewarding triumphs? Other than making sure that you guys get the vaccine during a zombie apocalypse.
Moz is extremely generous. You could eat every meal here if you need to and the company culture values support in a way that makes us feel heard.
In early August, the Mozzers competed in a field day to win the Golden Roger.
Let’s talk numbers. What’s the most important metric you think a support rep should aim for?
Customer happiness. That’s number one for us. If we can’t make folks happy, then we’re not doing our jobs. I also look at productivity metrics like number of tickets, chats, and phone call minutes. Those all play second fiddle to happiness.
And how do you guys measure customer happiness?
We measure happiness based on how many people send us puppies and kittens. Mostly, we use our help desk’s satisfaction survey.
Our baseline is 90% satisfaction. As a team we’re trying to hit a stretch goal of 95% in a given quarter. The highest we’ve climbed to is 93%.
The team likes to refer to their offices as the MozPlex.
I’m going to throw a couple of situations at you. Tell me how you guys deal with them at Moz.
a) A customer requests a feature that’s in the works but it’s complicated. What do you do?
Awesome question. We deal with that daily. We’ve had a long term feature request for multiple logins for our product with heated conversations on our feature request forum. We do tell people we’re developing it, but can’t give a ETA, because we haven’t received one from our engineers.
b) What if it’s a feature you know you’re never going to build. How do you let them down gently?
If we’re never going to build a feature we tell customers that we value feedback, but the use case for that feature may be fairly small for most of our users.
We try to be realistic without destroying their hopes and dreams.
Alternatively, we will recommend competitors if they have a feature we don’t. People really like that about us. It shows that we’re invested in our community’s success.
c) A customer requests a feature that’s not on the plan they’re subscribed to. They’re willing to pay extra but they don’t want to upgrade.
Just be real with them. We’d probably look for another product they could use and send them a link.
d) A support rep makes a tiny mistake and a customer gets super annoyed over it. How do you handle it? Do you step in? Do you let the rep handle it himself?
I let the teammate that gave the “annoying” answer know they need to do a followup. I usually give this person some of my feedback and let them know how I’d respond. This works well to simultaneously coach a teammate as well as make sure a customer is getting a better response.
The Winner of Moz’s First Annual Draw Roger contest. Roger, the robot, is their mascot.
Tell me about your security policy.
Ugh. Asking the hard stuff. At one point it was discovered that we weren’t encoding passwords very well. It really didn’t do much to hurt our customers and we could have just fixed it and moved on. That’s not really how Moz works, so we informed everyone what happened and how we fixed it.
Getting in front of security issues and proactively controlling the conversation is extremely important.
How do you guys react to refund requests? Do you plug in a sales rep somewhere down the process so that they can try to woo the customer back one last time?
Generously 🙂 There are very few instances we don’t offer refunds. As a SaaS with a free trial, we’re going to have to be giving a lot of refunds. It just happens. If there are account issues, we usually shy away from refunds and lean toward “next month credits.” This scales a little better for compensating someone for a single broken report or not having access to some important data.
What’s the biggest surprise you’ve experienced at Moz?
At Moz we believe in all hands support.
Every six months everyone in the company sits with our team and does support alongside us.
I was sitting with an engineer while he worked on a ticket. It was a bug the support team had been seeing and reporting for a few months. This engineer pulled out his laptop and fixed it on the spot. I was surprised that putting our product and engineering teams on the frontlines of support could pay off so well.
They take Bring Your Dog to Work Day very seriously at the MozPlex.
Give us some dope about your hiring strategy. What’s a turn-off and what’s a ‘Yes! We have to hire this one’?
Empathy. We’ve tried to hire on technical expertise, which yielded some success.
I’d rather train technical aptitude than manage a lack of empathy.
We also look for oddballs. People with weird talents or interests that can come in handy down the road. We’ve got an eccentric ukulele player, a League of Legends addict, someone that climbs mountains with a dog, a quasi-hippie socialist, a children’s book author, Princeton grad, and a s’mores addict. Most of them are artists in some capacity, which I love. Diversity of experience and ideas is extremely important to me, because we can all learn from folks that aren’t mirror images of ourselves.
In terms of customer service, which company do you admire a lot?
I came from Home Depot. I’ve always admired what they try to do. They focus on education and presence. By hosting DIY clinics on how to use tools, build something, and fix household problems, they were essentially one of the first companies to take a customer success model. They don’t just show you what’s on the shelf, they teach you how to succeed and get value out of it.
They also have this concept of “Customers First,” which means you drop whatever you’re doing to help folks. Sure, that annoys some people, but when it is done right, it’s extraordinarily effective.
Name another rep you’re a big fan of, and would like to hear from
I’d like to hear from someone at the Unbounce team. We model a lot of our internal team structure after what they do. I’d love to see what their day to day looks like.
(Editor’s note: We took his advice; here’s an interview with Ryan from Unbounce.)
Just one more question, Nick. If you could travel back in time to a certain era or event, when and why?
I love space and the human yearning to find something outside of ourselves. I’d go back to July 20th, 1969 and be involved in Apollo 11’s moon landing. Thinking about it gives me chills over the progression of the human race and evolution of technology. If I could go into the future, it’d be to a less tragic time when we value space exploration again.
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 email@example.com with your suggestions.