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Creating the Fuzzy Feeling Through Customer Service

Conversion Optimization

how to increase conversion rates through support

In the world of customer service, people expect that their questions will be answered in a timely manner. Customers expect that their warranties will be serviced with a quick turnaround. Many companies think that meeting expectations is their expectation. If you strive to meet expectations, you were probably ok with getting a C- in school (in some of my fourier transforms engineering class, I was stoked to pull a C-, but mostly I aimed higher). You will probably be ok with getting a 2.5 star rating too. To me, mediocrity is synonymous with failure because YOU are better than that and your company can be too.

Another mistake I would say we’ve been guilty of is data-mongering. While it is important to be data driven, you could spend a lifetime A/B testing on Optimizely and yield small gains by changing a button size here or there. The simple magic of great customer service can can have an even more profound impact on ROI at a fraction of the cost of expensive website optimization.

is customer service a task or an opportunity?

My newfound insight to customer service came after I read Tony Hsieh’s book on Delivering Happiness. He accounts a bunch of stories of Zappos employees going above and beyond the call of duty to provide an amazing customer experience. He talked about a night where he and his friends were out getting wasted in Las Vegas and they called their customer service looking for pizza at 3am. Zappos sells shoes and clothing (not pizza). Despite that, the customer service rep pulled up five locations in Las Vegas that were still delivering pizza. If a customer service rep did that for me at 3am, I’d remember that forever no matter how wasted I was.

If a customer service rep looked at that situation and thought, “damn this guy is retarded for calling me about ordering pizza in Las Vegas” then she would have hung up on them. That task is not in her job description. Instead, this rep saw an opportunity to help a customer above and beyond the call of duty and create a phenomenal experience

OneDoesNotSimply Customer service experimentation goes to work

I came into the office on Monday and I asked Ben, “yo dude, how’s that live chat on the website been working for ya?” Ben replied, “Oh I turned that shit off. It’s so annoying and nobody every buys anything. It’s just a waste of my time.” In some ways, I see where he’s coming from. Ben is our lead web developer so anytime he pulls his attention off from pushing code, he probably does the bare minimum to get the customer the info they need. So I asked Ben if he could set me up with the Olark account for taking care of live chat. Olark is a pretty sweet app that embeds right into our Shopify cart system. There are a number of good customizable automation features in there to make the experience efficient for both support reps and customers.

My hypothesis was that if I provided A+ customer service while creating a personal connection with people visiting our store, I could get more people to convert. It’s not typically the CEO’s job to be doing customer support live chat, but this was more about testing the hypothesis.

Customer #1 (Europe)

Someone messaged me from Europe asking about our warranty policy. I was caught off guard in tunnel vision and completely missed the conversation. The customer bounced. I failed.  Fix: Set audible notifications and leave the chat window in my external monitor so that it is visible at all times.

Customer #2 (NYC)

This guy asked me about painting a Boombot:

Customer2: Can you paint these things?

Me: Absolutely! I’ve painted a couple myself and they make a pretty good medium. My recommendation would be to use primer on the unit first. Acrylic paint holds quite well as does spray paint. I use a hard spray on Krylon clear coat when it’s done. It can still scratch, but the paint holds pretty well overall.

Customer2: Wow, thanks. That was helpful.

Me: What kind of stuff do you paint? If you’d like to submit you custom Boombot, we could post it up on the blog and link back to your work.

Customer2: No way! That would be awesome! Let me see which unit I like. I might come back and buy a couple.

Me: Sure thing. Hey, why don’t you take this free shipping discount too!

Customer2: Whoa, awesome. Thanks!

Me: Anytime!

This customer proceeded to add $350 of things to their shopping cart… but then they left. I was a little bummed I didn’t get the conversion, but I felt good about the interaction overall.

Customer #3 (Florida)

Customer3: Are you guys shipping the REX now?

Me: Ya man! We’re stoked! We are finally shipping these.

Customer3: Hey so I wrote you guys about sponsorship a little while ago but I didn’t hear anything back.

Me: Really? We get a lot of requests that come our way and sometimes we don’t see every one. What sport do you do?

Customer3: I’m a nationally ranked archer in high school right now.

Me: No way! I love archery. Tell you what Robin Hood, maybe I can get you a little deal on a speaker like what we give our other amateur athletes and maybe you can shoot some photos of you shooting with your Boombot. How’s that sound?

Customer3: Whoa cool! Thanks! Hey, are you guys hiring by chance?

Me: Well, we have some programs for street reps and athletes we work with. If you’d like to get a little more involved, I can put you in contact with Moose.

He didn’t respond for a while, and then I saw he added a Boombot REX to his cart. Was this just another tease or was this the real deal? 

Customer3: Could you get me a free grill kit?

Me: Unfortunately I can’t do that, but I do have some other freebies you can check out.

Customer3: Sweet. You know Boombotix is blowing up here in Florida.

Me: That’s good to hear. We got some good reps there. We had a good time out there at Surf Expo last year.

And then there it was; Conversion was completed on a Boombot REX with some stickers and a dog tag. BOOM! Two good conversations and we were on our way. Over the next 24 hours, I would go on using similar tactics to pull four more conversions. I was batting about .304 on Live Chat. Watch out Pablo Sandoval. I talked to one guy in France about taking my Boombot to ski in Chamonix one day. Another guy I spoke with about downhill mountain biking. I was actually having FUN doing customer support and bringing in a respectable amount of cash doing it. We had our best online sales day today since Christmas.

Pablo Sandoval

my philosophy on this plan scaling

Our Live Chat is just one touch point to our customers. EVERY interaction with customers offers potential to create a phenomenal experience. Phenomenal experiences drive buzz (WARNING: so do horrific ones). With each great experience you create, not only will you get the return business, but you will also get that customer to talk about their story. Customers will have a sense of pride when they are treated like a VIP. I tell everyone about how they valet my car at Martis Landing at Northstar Ski Resort. Then the valet carries my skis to the snow for me to step into the bindings. It’s over-the-top customer service. That’s a story to me and I will tell everyone about it. The buzz generated through referral traffic can be exponential. Exponential creates hockey-stick curves.

Obviously I need to find a way to drive the same level of passion and enthusiasm into anyone that takes the reigns on this part of my business. That is party of why I’m writing this article right now. This is one of those examples where entrepreneurs sometimes need to roll up their sleeves and go into the trenches to understand the battle at hand.

5 tips for above and beyond customer service

  1. Get the customer the information they are looking for FAST. That is first and foremost.  
  2. Ask the customer questions to drive engagement and better understand their needs. Learn something about what they do and hinge on that to find commonality.
  3. If you have it in you, try to be funny. If there’s one thing we all hate, it is the feeling that we are either talking to a robot or someone with canned responses. We also hate those human robots that have scripts to follow. People LIKE dynamic conversation. Don’t be afraid to show excitement and enthusiasm.
  4. Understand your product and your competition thoroughly. Customers are looking at your competition and they may request that you articulate on your competitive advantage.
  5. Use the element of surprise. Maybe when you’re done, slide them a small discount code for free shipping. Do something out of the ordinary for your customer. Give them a story.

If you do all of this, the conversions will come (assuming you are selling a decent product). If you are doing eCommerce or customer support of any kind, I hope you found this useful. Let me know how your experience is using some of these strategies.


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