Ryan Engley is the Director of Customer Success at Unbounce, a tool that allows marketers to build, launch, test and optimize landing pages easily. When he’s not making customers happy or playing Ping Pong in the office, he can be found making hummus, eating hummus or tweeting about hummus.
We managed to catch up with Ryan and ask him about his trysts with hummus er… life at Unbounce.
How big is the Unbounce team, Ryan?
9 (Though our Customer Success team is 18 altogether).
Where does your team work from? Vancouver and Montreal, Canada.
How many products do you support on a daily basis?
Just 1. Unbounce.
What channels do you offer support in?
Phone, live chat, email, community forums and just about anywhere our customers reach out to us.
How many questions do you deal with every day? Give us a ballpark figure.
So, how did you end up in customer support?
Fairly randomly. My background is health and wellness, and elementary school education.
I wanted to shift over to tech but it looked like a weird fit on paper.
However, my experience working with clients and teaching kids made the transition fairly smooth.
There was a bit of a learning curve but I like a challenge — I completely immersed myself in the SaaS world and it wasn’t long before I talking HTML, CSS, MRR and ARPU 😉
What does a typical day look like for the Director of Customer Success at Unbounce?
By the time I come to the office, at 9am, our Montreal team has already been online helping customers for a few hours, and a couple of our Customer Success Coaches, in Vancouver, are also up lending marketers a hand with their landing pages.
What do you look for in your support reps, Ryan?
Empathy! Far and away, empathy, kindness (and a healthy dose of curiosity) are the traits I’ve found to be most effective in a Customer Success Coach at Unbounce.
Our team cares so much about our customers and you can’t teach that. It has to be innate.
When you build a team based on kindness and empathy, those traits spill over into the way they work together.
This has helped us create a supportive culture where we all love coming to work together.
I believe that a happy, motivated team means happy customers.
How do you motivate yourself (and your team) day in and day out?
Oh geeze — how much time do you have? I think about motivation all the time because support can be a grind. No matter how much you care, you can burn out.
I’ve found that 6 elements are critical to building a motivated team:
- Finding the right people.
- Giving them the best tools to do their jobs.
- Establishing a clear mandate and expectations.
- Setting a lofty vision for the future and bringing everyone on board.
- Building a culture of open communication and ongoing feedback
- Empowering the team to try new things, and do what they do best every day.
I’ve begun using 15Five as a tool to survey and monitor employee engagement and that’s been extremely effective. Each week, my team replies to a set of questions which, coupled with one-on-ones, has helped nip sensitive issues before they escalate, and drive new improvements forward.
Every quarter and prior to performance reviews, my team completes Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement Survey. It’s not only a great predictor of employee engagement, it shows me where we need to take action and make changes to continually make things better.
What’s the most important metric you think a support rep should aim for?
I don’t want a team that provides okay support. I want them to provide the kind of support that our customers will tell their friends about.
Tell us about your toughest day at work.
The toughest days on support are when issues come up that we can’t solve (usually this means that a service provider has gone down).
But looking after a team, the hardest days are when my team seems stressed or unhappy. I want them to love coming to work so if an issue comes up and is outside my control, it’s incredibly frustrating.
Feeling powerless is the worst!
How do you and your team unwind?
When the team was small, it was a lot harder. Anyone taking time off meant everyone else had to double down but as we’ve grown, building some extra margin into our team size and making sure we have great leads has helped a ton.
Nobody should have to feel like they’re chained to their desks.
How do you measure customer happiness?
We measure happiness and delight by asking our customers how prompt, accurate and enthusiastic we were in our replies, and whether they’d refer a colleague to Unbounce based on their support experience (to measure our Net Promoter Score).
We tally up the number of times each Support Coach receives a perfect score and a positive comment.
The goal for my team is to constantly strive to beat their previous record of perfect scores.
What’s your stance on transparency?
Transparency is one of our 6 core values. We openly share our support stats, our wins, learnings, and just about anything else we can think of in our monthly support updates on Inside Unbounce.
Tell us about your biggest surprise as a support agent.
We were running a closed beta of our responsive landing page building feature when one of our customers emailed me and asked who he had to bribe to get in on it. I enabled the feature on his account and he wound up sending us a bag of chocolate loonies as thanks.
So, to thank him, we made this video.
We’re going to throw some situations at you. Tell us how you’d deal with them.
Well, given that my team’s on the front lines answering these questions, they’ve all chimed in to explain how they’d handle these situations.
a) How do you deal with requests for features that you know are in the works, but might take a long time to be shipped?
At Unbounce, the feedback we receive from our customers is a huge factor in determining future integrations and features. We are a company that heavily relies on feedback to help us better understand our customers needs and continue to improve our web app.
When a new feature is in the works, but stuck behind a lengthy release timeline, we put our customer first by not over promising or sharing deadlines that are not realistic to our actual release. We try to be as transparent as possible with our customers in all communication we have. If the feature is something that they require ASAP, we always take the time to better understand what they are looking to do. Asking questions like: “What is your use case” and “What are the pain points that not having X feature causes” allows us to better understand why they need the requested feature. It also allows us (when available) to educate customers on any workarounds they can use while the requested feature is in development.
b) What if it’s a feature you’re never going to build?
If a requested feature, is something that we are “never going to build” – we kindly let our customers know that the particular feature requested, is not on our roadmap and will always ask for their use case and try to see if there are any workarounds, manual processes or third party programs that can help our customers in achieving what they want to do. If there is really nothing we can do and the feature is not something we ever plan to include, we will tell our customers this but also educate them on why Unbounce has chosen against adding X feature to our web app.
– Mitchelle Mejia
c) What’s the protocol when your customers report a crucial security vulnerability over the weekend?
I’d tell them I’m bringing this to the attention of our dev team ASAP to review and assess the vulnerability. Once we get a idea of how affected we are, I’ll keep the customer updated with the results and plans moving forward to ensure the safety of our platform.
– Johnny Opao
d) A developer spots a security vulnerability and threatens to exploit it if you don’t pay him a ransom. What’s the protocol?
I would let them know that while we don’t have an official ‘bug bounty’ program, security is top-of-mind for us, so we’d be very keen to hear from them, and we’ll very happily send them some Unbounce swag if our developers find their report interesting.
If they take the ‘ransom’ aspect further, I would then assure them that we’re already very confident in our security practices and that we already contract an external white hat security company to actively look for any vulnerabilities that our developers may not have caught.
– Mark Wainwright
e) A customer requests a refund. Do you just issue the refund or do you rope in a sales person somewhere down the line to try to woo them back one last time?
We foster a giving and generous culture here at Unbounce. We realize that different customers have different needs. As such, we offer the same high level of customer service to those requesting refunds as we do to all of our other customers. This has resulted in many long term and ongoing relationships with customers, as well as new referrals.
f) How do you deal with requests for features that are not on the plan the customer’s subscribed to, but they say they desperately need?
At Unbounce, we do have some flexibility regarding certain features, and, as Customer Success coaches, we’re encouraged to use our best judgement, as well as our discretion. We are empowered to go the extra mile for our (amazing!) customers, so in this particular case, we’d typically reach out to the customer and ask more about their use-case. For a request like this, we’d do our absolute best to be accommodating, and work with the customer to figure out a customized solution for their needs.
g) A support rep makes a tiny mistake that greatly frustrates a customer. They’re trying to rein in the situation but the customer just keeps getting more and more frustrated. Do you step in and help with the mitigation or do you let the rep handle it themselves?
We acknowledge our mistakes openly and honestly. If in any case we receive a customer complaint, we do our best to follow-up and figure out what might have caused the unpleasant experience. This one time, a customer was getting frustrated after exchanging emails back and forth with a support coach, the support coach quickly picked up the phone and called the customer before the chance for further miscommunication. To top it off, an Unbounce t-shirt was sent the customer’s way as a small token of appreciation for the customer’s patience.
– Jade Luo
In terms of customer service, which company do you admire a lot?
There are so many good ones these days!
I have a ton of respect for the personal touch that Wistia has built around their brand. By the time I contacted their support team, I already felt like I had a personal relationship with them.
Personally, Survey Gizmo has totally blown my expectations out of the water every time I’ve every reached out to them. They’re unreal.
Editor’s note: Here’s our interview with Jeff Vincent, Director of Customer Happiness at Wistia.
Name another rep you’re a big fan of, and would like to hear from
I would love to hear from Taylor Morgan at SurveyGizmo or Marybeth Alexander at HelpGizmo.
Just one more question. If you could choose one superpower, what would you choose?
Flight. (obviously..!) – Helen S.
Teleportation – Jade
Time travel – Laura
Ability to stop and start time – Mark
Super speed! – Johnny
Inability to feel cold – Princess (Princess lives in Montreal)
Teleportation for sure! – Mitchelle
Omniscience – Quinn
Telekinesis! Then you can do *all* the things you like – Ryan
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.