Authenticity and Empathy are Our Roots

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What it means to go the extra mile for your customers.

By Laura Behrens Wu (Founder & CEO, Shippo)

This is part three of a series from one of our How To Conference speakers. Laura Behrens Wu spoke on our panel How to Create Value with the Right Business Model. Read part one and part two ShippoBlogPostImageThere are myriad tools and how-to lists startups can rely on for managing customer service, but when it comes to making people happy, the tool you use is only as worthy as the intentions behind it. We have two core brand values here at Shippo: simplicity and friendliness.

These values inform our approach to customer service every day and keep us on a path toward customer happiness that is pragmatic, intuitive, sincere, and, most importantly, truly helpful.

Early on, I decided that our customer support team should be built in-house. This allows us to keep our fingers on the pulse of our customers’ thoughts and needs every single day. We use every interaction to build a relationship with the individuals that have joined our Shippo community. When you personally email or tweet customers, you’ can move beyond that strangely opaque wall between you and “the customer.” You begin to build empathy with the individuals whose names you know and products you begin to recognize. This helps maintain the quality of support that we are proud to hang our hats on.

Empathy is at the heart of our customer support. Putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes, understanding what it means to be a small business owner or running a fast-growth e-commerce company, is crucial for us to best aid our customers. This approach not only helps us better address our customers’ questions, but also builds a neighborly bond rooted in trust and care. We can’t be the simple shipping API and app without this foundation.

We go out of our way to truly know our customers and their businesses. We discover and compliment them on new product lines, wow them with an extra-special support experience, prepare them for the onslaught of orders of a successful barrel-aged Sriracha Kickstarter campaign and walk them through sticky shipping situations over holiday weekends. We even once visited a customer’s office to help optimize their operational process. Creating shipping labels, shipping logistics and international shipping — all of it — is complicated. We’re crafting a holistic customer experience that eases this shipping pain. Providing warm, useful support levels the relationship human to human, rather than high-tech product to confused customer. This, in turn, helps us develop relationships founded in loyalty and trust encourages all sorts of potential customers to feel comfortable trying Shippo.

Another important aspect of customer service is fast customer-facing email communication. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Authenticity goes a long way in email support, but its impact is greatly diminished if an irritated customer has waited days for your response to appear in their inbox.

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To keep our communication as streamlined as possible, we use Zendesk to manage our customer support tickets. Zendesk allows you to assign customer support tickets to multiple support agents on your team and track whether those tickets have been resolved or not. That tracking has enabled us to improve our email response times significantly. Zendesk’s analytics, in particular, effectively inform other support modules on our website. We always know what issues our customers most need help with and what help center content is the hub of traffic. Additionally, Zendesk itself has a fantastic model of customer service, which means our customer support system is always in ship-shape.

Improving our customer service is a continuous learning experience. We’d love to hear what you think we do right or need to improve upon. Let us know in the comments, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

This post originally appeared on the Shippo blog


About the guest blogger: Laura Behrens Wu is the founder and CEO of Shippo. Shippo simplifies shipping for e-commerce companies by offering discounted shipping rates and a streamlined solution across all different shipping providers. It provides Amazon-level logistics for e-commerce stores, marketplaces, and platforms. Laura is proud to be a first-time founder, currently leading a team of 14 people at Shippo. Prior to founding Shippo, Laura worked at LendUp and was educated at the University of St. Gallen & Harvard College. Follow her on Twitter at @laurabehrenswu.