July 2, 2010
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend Startup Weekend Chicago. The basic idea behind Startup Weekend is a bunch of people come together, pitch their ideas for startups, choose the ideas they like and teams around each idea, and they bring the idea to fruition (and often into an actual company) over the course of the weekend. If you can’t see the video, please click here to see it.
One of the cool people I met on Saturday was Michelle Riggen-Ransom, the co-founder of BatchBlue Software. Their flagship product BatchBook is a social CRM site designed to keep your contacts centralized and keep you up to date on their various social media activity.
As Michelle and I were chatting, she explained how BatchBlue Software has a customer experience team whose purpose is to provide customers with a great experience and keep them happy. Below is a transcript of our conversation from the video above.
My name is Michelle Riggen-Ransom and I’m with a company called BatchBlue Software, out of Providence, Rhode Island. I’m one of the co-founders and also the Communications Director. We make software products for small businesses.
And what specifically do you make?
Our flagship product is a product called BatchBook and it’s something we call social CRM, which means it’s an online database which allows you to keep track of your contacts and also their social media activity.
Customer experience is hugely important to us so that’s actually our biggest department I think, even more so than tech.
You have a customer experience department?
Yeah. These are the people that do our onboarding. All paid accounts come with two hours of free one-on-one consultation. You setup your session to get your own account setup the way you want to use it. It’s to help small business owners use this thing that we built because we know that it is a barrier for some folks to get started with something like this and we right away wanted to take that barrier away and out of the equation.
Just say what do you need to do, here’s how you can do it, and then hopefully they’re off and running once they’ve had that training. We have email support that we do, we’re on Twitter offering support too. Customer experience is really important to us.
I was going to say, that’s pretty impressive when you have a whole department dedicated to customer experience and all these channels for reaching your customers.
I think that’s actually a challenge for a lot of businesses these days because you’ve got customers calling you, talking about you on Twitter, blogging about you. If you don’t know these conversations are happening out there then you can’t really respond to them or address the concerns that might be coming up.
From your own experience, what’s the secret to a great customer experience?
I think the most important thing is to just feel listened to. We’re of the mindset that even if you don’t end up choosing our product for whatever reason, we want you to have a good experience with our company.
Everybody is busy, time is limited for folks, and we recognize that the people that are taking the time to write into us are providing us with feedback whether it’s positive or negative. We want to treat them with equal respect and equal attention.
I think really just feeling like you’re being listened to by the company and that there are actually people behind the screen when you’re sending a message out there. I don’t know what the percentages are exactly, but for someone to write into you for whatever reason, you have to think that they represent only a small portion of the folks that are actually experiencing the exact same thing.
That’s why we take the feedback so seriously, because we feel like these are almost like the ambassadors that are stepping forth from your customer base to say, hey, here’s something you might want to think about. We appreciate that and wouldn’t be in existence if folks didn’t take the time to do that.
So if someone writes to you, decides they don’t want to be a customer, maybe has some feedback, whether it’s positive or negative…you don’t just write them off and say, alright, we’re done with these people, they don’t care about us…
No, actually, if someone deactivates their account, our president writes to them and says we’re sorry to see you go, let us know if you have any feedback. It’s surprising the amount of people that write into that and let us know. Often times, it’s just well my company decided to go with another solution, I liked your product, it just didn’t get approved by corporate, or whatever.
Even that is valuable for us, because we don’t think oh no, our product is terrible! People are actually giving us real reasons about this and helps us figure out what we do need to focus on if someone is saying the same thing.
We would never write someone off. Even customers that are writing into us fourteen times a week or something. Those people are a drain on our resources but we always want to try to help them with their issue, regardless. The only thing we won’t tolerate is if someone is insulting or abusive or something with our customer experience team because, as co-founder of the company, I want to make sure my staff feels important and respected as well.
Editor’s Note: This video episode was created by Tim Jahn, a longtime Chicago TECH cocktailer and storyteller who produces the online video series, Beyond The Pedway focused on better telling the local business stories in Chicago. You can follow Tim on Twitter: @timjahn.
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