Stephanie Price is a Customer Success Manager at Sanebox, a service that automatically sorts your email into several folders based on their importance.
A fan of the 2010 BBC Sherlock series, Stephanie lives in Pearisburg, Virginia.
We managed to catch up with Stephanie and chat about life at Sanebox and customer support.
How many products do you support, Stephanie?
And where is the support team based?
Lots of places around the world.
What channels do you offer support in?
Primarily email but chat and phone support is offered in certain situations.
How many queries do you get everyday? An average number will do.
How did you get started in customer support, Stephanie?
I have always loved helping people. Especially loved assisting them in better understanding technology. So, you could say it was kind of inevitable. I like that every customer’s situation is unique. Each situation has to be handled with great care so I’m always learning something new.
Tell us about your role at SaneBox.
My job is managing our support agents to make sure they are keeping up with the ongoing flow of tickets and providing top notch customer service. I work individually with each support agent to find out what our customers require and notate each and every concern so that we can find ways to implement new features.
I understand that most of the SaneBox support team is remote. What’s that like? What are the pros and cons of having a remote support team?
Yes. Most of us are remote and come from many different locations. The pros are so great because it allows us to find the best of the best rather than being restricted to a certain geographical location. Dealing with timezones can be difficult but it is a minor issue. We are so tuned in with each other that none of us really notice.
Motivating your team and keeping their mojo going when you’re across the world from them must be hard. How do you manage?
This is something I learned from previous managers I came in contact with. Many ignored the needs of their team members and never listened to them, their concerns or feedback.
My reps know that they can come to me for anything. It motivates them knowing that they don’t have a manager but a mentor and leader.
If I have to give them negative feedback or coaching, I don’t do it in a harsh way. I treat it as a learning experience.
SaneBox pulls out all the stops on customer engagement. Winner of the caption contest gets a SaneBox tee.
Give us some dope on your hiring policy. What do you look for in your support reps?
I look for a go getter. A person who loves to learn new things and has the same passion for support as I do. I want my reps to be a reflection of myself while at the same time providing a unique touch to how they handle customer situations.
How did you scale customer support at SaneBox and still, somehow, keep the culture and values intact?
Everyone in our company whether they do sales, design etc. helps out in support. We offer fun activities and new duties to keep it fun. With us, there is always something to do and in my opinion, that keeps our reps from getting bored.
No one wants to do the same tasks over and over everyday. I find that when you put someone in that situation, they become bored and their love for the position will deteriorate.
Let’s talk numbers. What do you think is the most important support metric that an agent has to keep in mind?
The quality of the message our reps send is extremely important. Response time is secondary.
We don’t want customers waiting a long time but we don’t want responses going out so quickly that the rep doesn’t have enough time to proofread and really understand what they are writing.
It can be a bit difficult to judge a customer’s true happiness through email but we know that if we can handle their issue as quickly as possible and still provide them with a good quality resolution, it will make them happy.
Additionally, if the customer has a specific request, we do everything we can to make that request a reality.
Nothing makes a customer happier than when they make a feature request and notice a few months later, that we’d made it happen. It makes them feel like they really contribute to a service that they are putting their hard earned money in for.
Tell us about your social media strategy. How do you manage queries coming through Facebook and Twitter?
We have two people that run our social media (me included). Our goal is to monitor what our customers are saying and make sure they are happy. If they are not happy, we ask them to write to us so that we can take care of it immediately.
What’s your most memorable customer interaction?
There was a lady who wrote in to us, a few weeks ago. She wanted to thank us for how helpful we’d been when she had a stroke and how much time we’d helped her save. That’s pretty memorable.
How do you unwind after a long day of supporting?
My relaxation methods vary from day to day. But most of the time, I just listen to Old Time Radio and lounge with a nice cup of tea.
…and they’re pretty generous with their prizes too.
What’s the best thing about working at SaneBox?
The best thing for me, is the people. One person that I am honored to work with is the founder of the company. How many professionals get to say that they get to speak with the founder of the company that they work for on an almost daily basis? It is also something that I feel that customers enjoy as well because our founder reaches out and works with our customers. He gives them a personal interaction that really sets SaneBox apart from any business I have ever dealt with.
How do you deal with unreasonable or frustrated customers? Is there a tone guide you consult?
Our tone changes depending on the customer’s tone. If the customer is upset, our reps know to be more understanding and not just write the customer off for being frustrated. There is a reason why they are frustrated and we must take action to figure out why and to provide a solution to make them happy.
A customer requests a feature that you’re not planning on building. How would you handle this request?
What’s your stance on transparency? Do you think everything should be public (ala Buffer) or do you think some things are better left in the closet?
Privacy is our number one priority. And transparency does not have any benefits for our customers so, we keep everything private.
One of your support reps makes a tiny mistake that greatly annoys a customer. How does this translate into feedback for the team?
If a support rep makes a mistake, we take it as a learning experience.
Harsh criticism has never been a solution. It just creates more problems. We let them know what was inaccurate, train them on it, and then we move on.
If the mistake was on our side, say something was outdated, then we take steps to correct that.
What’s the biggest surprise of your SaneBox career?
My biggest surprise was just how much of a voice I have here. I’m so used to big corporations where you are just a number. I’m not a number here. No one here is a number. If one of the reps doesn’t like something, they can easily voice their opinion without fear and it creates such job satisfaction that I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What has your time at SaneBox taught you?
Working at SaneBox has really taught me that not all companies are the same. I have worked for many major corporations that I just felt like I was just spinning my wheels. With SaneBox, I have such an opportunity to grow and become what I was meant to be without someone holding me back. I feel that they really care about me as a person and that kind of feeling, makes me want to make sure they succeed in becoming bigger and better.
Tell us about the companies you admire the most, with respect to the kind of customer service they provide.
I’m not sure that I have one that I truly admire. I guess if I had to go for the best that I have experienced thus far, I’d probably go with Google’s customer service. Anytime I have an issue, they take care of it. No questions asked. I respect that.
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.