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Customer totality & support storytelling with Sue Morris

customer support within the customer journey at Github

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The eighth release of Support Heroes by Kaizo featured Sue Morris – Vice President of Customer Success and Support at GitHub.

In this episode, Sue gives us a peek into what years of high-level experience and industry goliaths teaches you about treating your customers right! This is a unique opportunity to learn from someone who’s competed with the best and won customers’ loyalty time and time again.

“Create loyalty, create fans in every interaction”

Key Takeaways 

1. Account for the entire customer journey and make the most of each customer interaction

2. Excellent products aren’t enough. Excellent service alongside them creates lifelong fandom and loyalty

3. Interdepartmental responsibility for the customer’s experience

Account for the entire customer journey and make the most of each customer interaction


“Really what you want to do, is look at the [customer] journey in its totality…you have to make every interaction and experience good”

It’s the same care and attention to detail that’s applied during service at a fine dining establishment. Each element is meticulously controlled.

Except in our digital world, there are so few touchpoints between customers and the online companies we deal with, each of those touchpoints is that much more important.

“Look at that journey and think: what are the points of pain that we can just take out…automate, make simple?” 

Some things should be easy, effortless: like updating payment type or changing a password. But if your account’s hacked, you need to have the customer’s back. Those interactions become moments of truth for the customer…

“A moment of truth is really when we want to give you human expertise. Where we can ‘wow’ you and if we do that, then we’ve earnt the right to sell you other products” 

And the business value of this relatively small investment into the experience can be clearly seen…

“[At Vodafone] We were seeing that the biggest volume of our quality leads was coming from this interlocked partnership of support and sales” 

Those with positive interactions with support were more easily upsold and more likely to stick around. 

Excellent products aren’t enough. Excellent service alongside them creates lifelong fandom and loyalty

“[At GitHub and Microsoft] We believe that service should be a differentiator for your brand. You have to work just as hard to get your service and support right, as you do your products, and when you have the two together, you can create true fandom”

The two not only synergise. Service can exceed the selling potential of your competitor’s products, even if your products are nearly identical. 

“John Lewis in England or Nordstrom in America really sell the same thing as their competitors in retail but the service and the experience really does make a difference.”

“..you know if something goes wrong, they’ll have your back; that their returns policy will be easy; that you’ll be looked after…that’s what buys true loyalty.”

A customer relationship is like any other- you get out what you put in and effort is most often reciprocated with gratitude. However, the same is true in reverse…you can’t only invest on date nights and Valentine’s.

“At both Github and Microsoft, we put so much emphasis on making our products great…but if the service and support isn’t there as well, then you lose it”

And such investments pay dividends in our subscription economy. Where the lifetime value of a happy customer can quite literally be a lifetime’s worth of steady revenue. 

“It’s not a one-off anymore…so if you don’t mess it up, and keep your product and services great, I could be a customer for life.”

“It really is a true partnership between the service and the product” 

Interdepartmental responsibility for the customer’s experience 

Sue herself represents this best, she oversees support, customer experience, customer success, and professional services…

“I have the pleasure of running everything around the post-sale so that we can bring everything together and avoid operating in silos” 

Counteracting silos is crucial to clearly see the customer’s experience in its totality, as well as to have an honest conversation about what is best for the customer without being blinkered.  

“We’re trying to ensure every single one of those touchpoints feeds into the customer experience so we can understand it and continuously learn and get better” 

“Instead of [waiting] for something to go wrong, we’re trying to predict and prevent issues before they happen”

Afterthought becomes forethought and reactivity becomes proactivity. Communication is the key to pulling this off and operating as a homogenous unit. 

“If you think about support, it’s the catchall for everything. Whatever sales, marketing, product, engineering does, it all comes to support by the time it hits the customer”

“…so it’s really important that we have the mindset that support is the chief customer storyteller.” 

Sue stresses the necessity for support to lead the conversation on topics such as…

“Customer effort- how much effort is a customer having to give to made this work the way they want it to…” 

“The customer journey- showing what the customer goes through in the chronological order that they live it..” 

“[By seeing] how [the customer] passes from one department to another, you can start to see how some of those silos break down”

Once the silos are removed…eureka moments take place… 

“You see [colleagues] reprocess it and say, ‘oh didn’t mean that to work this way…let’s fix it!”

If you enjoyed this, check out the rest of our episodes with support heroes from N26, Triapneer, Miro + more. Now available on Apple PodcastsSpotify + Simplecast.

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