What a Leprechaun Taught Me About Growth

I remember sitting in a circle with my fellow 2nd graders staring up at the man dressed head to toe in emerald green. It was early March and this leprechaun (someone’s uncle) skipped into our classroom to teach us about St. Patrick’s Day. Zeroing in on my 2nd grade self’s worst nightmare, he picked me for an exercise. 

Out of his bag he grabbed a rainbow temporary tattoo. Looking down from his spectacles he told me I could have the temporary tattoo right now — but, only me. Or, if I put it back in his bag there was a chance he’d open his bag up again and ‘poof!’, there would be enough tattoos for the entire class. 

What do you choose?: A quick path to the thing you want at the expense of others or a slightly tougher path, taking on the needs of others. 

I’ve seen this same dilemma play out many times in scaling companies. With a focus on growth, the other people in the room can be forgotten. The good news is, to be successful, it’s not a choice. Taking on the needs of others leads to support-driven growth, customer retention, loyalty and a better product. 

More directly related to customer support, vanity metrics and customer-product disconnect, are two examples where choosing the first option - a quick path to the thing you want at the expense of others - will hurt your company. 

Below, I’ll walk through both examples and show how taking the slightly tough path, taking on the needs of others, leads to growth.

The Trouble With Vanity Support Metrics

Customer service is a highly measurable activity. In my time on the front lines, I’ve sent 21,536 support emails. I know that because emails sent, chat times, response and resolution times, interaction counts, and a myriad other numbers are more easily recorded and measured today than ever before. 

It’s absolutely incredible but it can also be distracting if your team isn’t focused on the right, meaningful metrics. 

For example, how do these metrics appear to you?: 
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At first glance, it seems like Agent Unicorn is kicking butt. They are getting through a high volume of emails and taking less time to reply which means a quicker response for the customer. However, add in a customer satisfaction metric and you might see: 

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If you are only focusing on response time and volume, your customer service team will learn to equate success with churning through as many emails as quickly as they can. With this added metric, you’re getting a more meaningful story. Agent Starfish is providing an overall better customer experience.

And, this means growth. Published in this Harvard Business Review, researchers found that among thousands of customers studied, customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.

By supplementing number of replies sent and average response time with customer satisfaction you can teach support agents to focus on delivering a great customer experience rather than just a desire to hit metrics. 

The Trouble With Customer-Product Disconnect

Building a product or service is not like Field of Dreams. You can’t count on “If you build it, he will come”. You have to ask your customers what they want and build your product or service to help solve the customer’s problem. 

It can be easy for teams to build a feature or piece of their service that they would like to see, rather than going to their customers for feedback or validation. 

How do you make sure your product team is hearing from customers? 
With the right processes and tools, you can learn to quantify the qualitative feedback you’re hearing from your customers. It’s not enough to rely on a gut feeling of ‘I think our customer’s find our pricing page confusing’, you’ve got to support it with data. 

Collecting actionable feedback, wherever users are giving it, is important to retain customers and will earn you support-driven growth. 

At Tuff, we help teams implement a three part process: 

  • Introduce a tagging system to all support channels
  • Track customer feedback that isn’t necessarily taggable
  • Meet weekly to discuss this data

You can read more about each of these processes and examples, here.

To put the tattoo back or share with others?

It is not a choice, it’s the solution. 

You can drive growth through delivering an excellent customer experience. Avoiding vanity metrics and customer-product disconnect are just two examples where it’s easy to fall into a focus on achieving goals that might not benefit your customer. And, without your customers, you have no revenue and no business.

To learn more about delivering an exceptional customer experience and how that can lead to growth, sign up for a free customer support strategy session with Tuff.

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