Scaling through the pandemic with Stephanie Wohl
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The seventh release of Support Heroes by Kaizo featured Stephanie Wohl – Head of Support at Channable.
In this episode, Stephanie shares the unique challenges she and her team face supporting a deeply complex tool like Channable. Throughout, we touch on best practices for providing consistent, high-level support across multiple industries and languages – all whilst working remotely.
“When people are irritated that is not because of you [the agent] they’re irritated because they can not figure it out or they’re irritated because they had a busy day”
1. Protect your agents and customers from unpleasant, unproductive conversations
2. Change your tone and approach based on cultural expectations
3. Stay connected while working from home and scaling fast
Protect your agents and customers from unpleasant, unproductive conversations
“The phrase: the customer is king is true. However, it should always be an equal relationship.”
This isn’t to say that Stephanie encourages her agents to instantly hang up, it’s about defusing the situation for the betterment of both the agent and the customer, and managing expectations. She would encourage her agent to say…
“I’m sorry but I don’t like how you’ve been speaking to me. I’m trying to help you. So I’m going to hang up on you now and we’re going to talk to you within half an hour because we’re not getting any further with this”
Protect yourself, protect your agents, protect your customers from unpleasant, unproductive conversations, “as long as, you speak nicely to the customer”. However, don’t misunderstand. No matter what…
“We always have the basics- be friendly to customers & try to help them”
Change your tone and approach based on cultural expectations
“Benelux is our the biggest market…and the Benelux team was doing great, so we thought: let’s just copy those processes to the other support regions because it works…”
“But then we found that [those processes] didn’t work out because of the cultural differences”
Now, the Dutch are known for being quite direct, but not every European nation has the same persuasion. This may be easy to state offhandedly however it’s not something so easy to predict and account for in the context of a support operation…
“If a Dutch customer calls, they immediately start telling you, ‘this is my problem. I want it fixed’ and you can have a call within six minutes.”
“But if a Spanish customer calls, first they will ask ‘how are you doing?’, ‘how is your mother doing?’..then after 20 minutes, they start with their problem.”
Though the team was initially concerned about the time difference, they realized something that quelled these concerns…
“We noticed our customers are so happy with our Spanish support team because we have interest in our customers, we know them by heart, we know their problems…they don’t see us a company they buy a tool from, they see us as their external coworkers”
Staying Connected while working from home and scaling fast
“We start every day with a team daily. It’s 15 minutes to discuss things that happened but sometimes you don’t have things to discuss…then it’s a moment to have fun, make bad jokes, etc.”
“For those 15 minutes, you see each other…it’s nice to have the feeling of ‘we’re in this together’”
This morning daily is like a morning meeting combined with coffee machine chit-chat. Then at the end of the day, the Channable support team have a closing zoom session…
“It’s nice to release all the energy of that day, discuss how people found their day and what they’re going to do that night”
All those little chats between tasks, at lunch, or on breaks aren’t had when you’re working at home. It’s important to make time to chat and just be people for a while.
“Especially now, the one-on-ones with my team leads are so important. Of course, we talk about how they can improve things, what goals they want to work on but the mental aspect is crucial”
Creating a culture of remote communication allowed the team at Channable to successfully integrate 12 new, fully remote colleagues since March. How? Stephanie put it quite simply:
“Please, really ask the people ‘how are you doing?’, ‘are you still happy?’”