Olark’s Sunir Shah on Building a Company Around Customer Service [VIDEO]

“At Olark, we do All Hands Support. Not just because we need to do support, but because we want everyone in the company to get to know customers. We’re all human beings: we all feel; we all want; we all have problems; we all have first names; we all have parents; we all have loved ones; we all have stories; and if you don’t get to know your customers – you don’t get to see them – [then] you never really know what your product means to them and how you can make it better…how you can be a better company.”

Sunir Shah is the the chief marketing officer at Olark, the company that has enabled thousands of companies to improve their customer service efforts through its live chat feature. Shah sat down with us during this year’s SXSW and shared with us a little on what it’s like to work for a company that values customer support above everything else; Olark values customer support so much so, in fact, that it’s become renowned for its all All Hands Support, wherein every member of their team engages with Olark’s customers. Shah shared with us how the company continues to uphold its focus on customer support and shares with us a little more on their belief in All Hands Support.

“We don’t live in a world where you can make something for the customer, and sell it to them, and never talk to them again,” says Shah. “The Internet keeps us all connected together.”

For Shah, his attraction to Olark prior to joining as CMO was the company’s priority of the customer. At Olark, the company ensures that each of its employees (including its leaders) go through the necessary training of speaking with customers and then rotates employees through the customer service role throughout their tenure at the company. This wasn’t always the case, though; in the beginning, the company hired outside help to do all of the customer service, but they quickly learned that doing so led to a disconnect with their customers. With tools like Desk.com, Olark discovered ways to engage with their customers in the best possible.

“Because we sell a customer service product and we take customer service seriously…we think it’s really, really, really important to keep everyone close to their customer. So, for us, having a really good tool to keep the entire company organized – and all the customer interactions organized – was really important…Desk.com is the backbone of our customer service.”

According to Shah, Desk.com has enabled Olark to uphold its focus on providing All Hands Support. The platform allows them to keep every customer email, chat, or tweet all in one place. By doing so, they can look at the timeline of how they’ve provided support for each customer from beginning to end  (from when the customer reached out to Olark to the point at which the issue was resolved). During their first two weeks, new hires to Olark must go through doing customer support using Desk.com as their primary tool – from reading customer responses in the Desk platform to responding to customer email tickets; without Desk, the company would be in desperate need of a tool that could enable them to keep up with their All Hands Support structure.

Watch Sunir Shah in the video below as he goes further into Olark’s All Hands Support methodology, and why he believes customer service is the core mission of your brand in the 21st century:

This video series was made possible through the support of Microsoft BizSpark and TrepLife.

Every entrepreneur has a great story–and Trep Life is here to tell it. We document the grind, hustle, and payoff of building companies. 

Every startup is unique and Microsoft has programs to help, no matter what stage of development your startup is in. Get three years of FREE Microsoft Azure cloud services thru BizSpark, plus software, service, and tech support. Scale your cloud with BizSpark Plus and $60k of Azure. Connect with more customers through our Custom Access Program. Sound interesting? Go to: http://aka.ms/getbizsparknow

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Written by:
Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.
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