Somesh Pant is a Technical Support Manager at Wingify, the makers of Visual Website Optimiser – the world’s easiest A/B testing tool.
Somesh has over 10+ years of experience in Information Technology, working at HCL, Yahoo!, Synopsys and Reliance Communications.
We managed to catch up with Somesh and chat with him about life at Wingify and customer support.
How big is your support team, Somesh?
And how many products do you support?
Just one. Visual Website Optimizer (VWO).
Where do you work out of?
What channels do you support?
Primarily email. But we handle in phone, live chat and social media as well.
How many queries do you get every day? An average number will do.
90-100 emails, 25-30 phone calls and 35-40 live chat queries.
What tools do you use to support customers?
Freshdesk as service desk tool; Skype, Web meeting tools like GoToMeeting and WebEx.
Walk us through a typical day in the life of Somesh Pant, Technical Support Manager.
My day starts at 8 AM. I check my schedule, scan email from the previous night and flag emails that need extra attention/discussion. I make a tentative plan for the rest of the day – the tasks that I have to complete and the results I have to achieve before I leave for work. I usually arrive sometime around noon, as a result. When I get in, I talk to my team members for a bit. We share updates and talk about challenges, if any.
Support’s the first point of contact, for our other teams like Product Management, Marketing, Sales and Customer Success, for customer discovery (a term I came up with to encapsulate our frequent discussions with customers on issues and expectations). So, I spend a lot of time getting acquainted with their requirements as well. But no matter how packed my schedule gets, I try to sneak in a table tennis match with my colleagues. I usually head home sometime between 7 PM and 8 PM. Before I turn in, I scan the emails one last time to find out if something needs my attention asap.
That sounds exhausting! How do you motivate yourself (and the team) every day? What drives you to be the best you can be?
I have a smart and responsible team. Their passion, to continuously improve our service, and enthusiasm, for addressing complex queries, keeps me on my toes and engaged through the day.
I believe that only a well-adjusted, happy and motivated team can keep customers happy.
So, I make sure that the team’s happy by,
- Holding one-on-one meetings to arrest blockers before they affect work and give feedback on performance.
- Making sure that the team has everything they need to function well; the best tools, advice, everything.
- Promoting and driving a culture of open communication.
- Encouraging cross-team collaboration on internal projects.
- Discussing, with them, their area of interest and technical inclination before setting the right expectations and establishing OKRs (Objective Key Results) every quarter.
- Listening when they want to talk. I talk to them not just about support queries but also their career.
I basically do everything I can to keep them aligned with the company’s vision and objectives.
Freshdesk’s gamification feature (Arcade) also helps keep the team engaged as everyone puts their best efforts to achieve maximum points and win quests!
Thanks for the shoutout, Somesh! Arcade is one of our favourites too. What, in your opinion, is the most important metric a support rep should aim for?
At Wingify, we’re all about delighting our customers. Making our customers happy is a company-wide objective. That’s what we obsess over. There’s no one metric we focus on; the nature of my role makes it so. Something that I think is important today might not seem so significant tomorrow. But at the present, we focus on tracking response time, the quality of our responses and the customer satisfaction score.
How do you measure customer happiness?
We do that in two ways. We add a feedback link at the end of every response sent. This link contains a couple of questions about their experience with us. We also send a feedback link again once a reported problem is resolved in order to capture their spontaneous feedback on our support rep.
The Wingify team celebrating Holi
Are you pro or anti-transparency? Do you discuss (and make public) this feedback or do you think some things are better left hidden from the public eye?
Wingify is fanatical about transparency — be it the company’s monthly/annual reports, support metrics, sales numbers or marketing efforts.
Transparency is the best way to learn and get insights from everyone in the shortest time possible.
So, I’m completely for it.
How do you keep the VWO community interesting and engaging for people around the world?
We create quizzes and self-paced online tools like the landing page analyzer to engage the community. The VWO Linkedin community usually has a lot of active discussions going on as well, mostly about conversion rate optimization.
What’s the best thing about working for Wingify?
I like that Wingify focuses solely on performance and results. The work culture – flexible timings, openness, transparency – enables us to work efficiently, accomplish tasks and produce those results.
How do you unwind after a long day of support?
I like to surf the Internet, read short stories, explore open source tools…On a particularly stressful day, my daughter’s cuddles are the only thing that rejuvenates me. My weekends usually have me reading and watching movies.
What’s your most memorable user interaction?
I can’t come up with one, off the top of my head. But I do have a good one that features my team member. The client was so ridiculously happy with my colleague’s dedication that he told him he (the client) would definitely dance at his wedding. That has to be hands down the most memorable user interaction anyone on our team ever had.
It feels nice when customers appreciate what we do for them.
Tell us about your toughest day at work.
This happened recently. When we started chat support for a percentage of our customer base, we were bombarded with queries. The number of queries was unprecedented.
The team handled it pretty well though and I think it was all worth it in the end because we got some amazing feedback from our customers about the great support we provided.
We’re going to throw some situations at you. Tell us how you’d deal with them.
a) Your customer requests a feature that’s in the works but it’s complicated and you don’t have an ETA. How would you handle it?
I think it’s important to set the customer’s expectations right and be honest.
If a feature is in our roadmap, even if it’s going to take a while, we let the customer know about the time-frame.
b) What if it’s a feature that you have no intention of building?
All feature requests are important to us and we actively work on all of them. The word ‘never’ is very rarely bandied around because they probably want it for a very good reason.
Business needs are always changing – so we’re open to making changes as well.
c) A customer requests a refund. Do you just issue the refund or do you rope in a sales rep to try to woo them back one last time?
We don’t step back when it comes to refunding users. Having said that, we try to track down the exact issue by talking to the customer and making sure there was no inconvenience.
d) One of your support reps makes a tiny mistake that greatly annoys a customer. The support rep’s trying to make things right but the customer only seems to be getting more and more frustrated with time. Do you step in and try to smooth things over? Or do you let the rep handle it themselves?
We’d apologize to the client first. And then, I’d sit down with the rep to find out how the problem occurred – did they understand the query, did he not know how to deal with it or was it something beyond his control.
e) How do you deal with unreasonable, frustrated customers? Is there a tone guide that you consult?
There’s no tone guide but the team undergoes a lot of training to address situations like this.
The best way to understand a customer’s plight is to put yourself in their shoes.
We empathize with them and help them understand that their issue is being given adequate attention. That usually works.
What do you look for in your support reps?
I look for dedication and humility (helps evaluate and understand customer’s urgency). Technical skills can be groomed over time to focus them more appropriately towards the job profile. If you have the right mix of investigative attitude and enthusiasm to complete it in a time-bound manner under pressure, you are the most sought after support rep at Wingify.
What has your time at Wingify taught you?
Perseverance and customer-centricity are the keys to success. The customer is the best judge of your product (usability, features etc.) and services.
In terms of customer service, which company do you admire a lot?
Wistia. They have a small team (and a high volume of queries) but you always receive a blazing fast response. Apart from Wistia, I like Freshdesk. You’ve ramped up very well in our last year with you, on the customer service front.
(Editor’s note: We have already interviewed Wistia.)
Thank you! Name another rep you’re a big fan of, and would like to hear from
Arun Manohar from Yahoo! for his untiring customer focused approach to problem-solving.
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.