Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) is an integral part of building and maintaining award-winning customer service and experience. To get a better idea of some of the challenges and benefits of working in a CRM (especially in larger teams), I sat down with Jenn Georgeson, a Client Success Specialist at Two Hat Securities and former Language Support Rep at Disney Interactive.
The customer and player support team at Disney Interactive is unique in many ways. It has over a hundred support representatives and manages dozens of products. Because their products spanned the globe, their support is nearly 24/7 with the majority of their team located in one office. Disney Interactive is able to increase their support team during peak hours and keep it light for regions who aren’t as active.
Due to the number of products, there are several different tools used to manage their support:
- Player Support tools to manage the in-game player information
- Communication tools to answer customers with emails and live chat.
- Collaboration tools to connect the support team to the production team.
The focus of my conversation with Jenn was on the tools to manage customer emails. One of Jenn’s favorite tools from a customer service perspective was Zendesk. She found Salesforce was better from a sales perspective and that wasn’t what her team needed. Here is her opinion of the two tools.
- Good for sales perspective
- Ability to log phone calls
- Live chat with customers
- Can add additional modules to cover other tasks like tracking time
- Can create articles and templated responses
- Provides an in-tool communication channel
- Hard to customize - they needed a full-time person to manage it
- Integration with in-house tools can be challenging
- Navigation to different modules or sections within the tool to leverage features isn’t intuitive
- Managing which queues you worked in could be tricky and needed to be managed by an administrator or reps had to be given administrative permissions to manage their workflow more effectively
- Log emails and phone calls
- Internal knowledge base
- Knowledge base can use multiple media formats including GIFs to help customers, clients, and reps understand complex issues or steps
- Has more intuitive navigation within the tools
- Felt more suited to support and customer service functions and workflows
- Learning curve was a little bit difficult in some areas - Naming conventions and flow of tickets in the system seemed odd at first.
- May require dual licensing. Example, getting enough info into Zendesk to allow customer support reps to act without also requiring a CRM license (since the incentive is often cost savings, this is a challenge.)
- Can be a challenge to clearly define first and second tier support.
- Dual source reporting. For an existing business, getting old case history into Zendesk can be a challenge.
“One thing that was really helpful with Zendesk is its ability to not only have customer facing FAQs but internal FAQs for the support team.”
Internal FAQs aren’t always at the top of someone’s list. However, they provide support teams with all the information they need to provide exceptional service: how the system’s back-end work and detailed information that may not be in the official FAQs.
On a team of over a hundred customer support reps, managing multiple products, what are some of the key benefits to a CRM?
One point of contact
At Disney Interactive one of the main focuses was to provide customers with a single point of contact. It was not about jumping on the first ticket in the queue and ensuring customers were responded to right away. It was about building relationships.
It can be frustrating to customers if they have to explain themselves over and over to a new support rep. “You develop a report with that client and they get the feeling they’re talking with a friend.” So even though there are a hundred customer support reps, the client doesn’t feel that.
It still allows support reps to pass off clients when necessary. If one rep always deals with the same difficult client it can be stressful for him/her and frustrating to the customer if they feel their needs aren’t being met.
Reassign or escalate issues
It also allows you to assign the issue to another support rep. For example a manager or someone with more expertise. “It’s as simple as opening up one tab and clicking on the rep you’d like to assign it to.” Looping people in on traditional email gets messy. With CRMs, support reps have the full picture when they get brought in on another conversation.
CRMs provide a complete history of information. Which support rep answered. What avenue was it – email, phone, live chat? When was the ticket entered, when did the rep respond? What was the solution? Was there any help article they linked the client to? Was there a bug ticket created for the production team in relation to the client email?
A CRM can also link back to the custom tools your team uses. For Disney Interactive that was the Player Support tools. If a client emailed in, they could link that email to the player account.
The CRM could also tell support reps the schedule of the other support rep dealing with the ticket. This was incredibly useful in case the support rep was sick or on holidays. As I mentioned above, having one support rep correspond with a client can be beneficial. However, you still want to respond to your clients in a timely manner. If the primary support rep is on holidays, you don’t want that ticket sitting there until they get back.
Managing Multiple Products
With over a dozen different products that were managed by the Disney Interactive team it can be easy to see where things might get messy or confusing. What Disney Interactive did was create what Jenn calls ‘Pocket teams’. Each team was an expert in two to three specific products, but were still also knowledgeable about the other products.
So, on a team of 30 customer support reps you might have 5-6 pocket teams. Pocket teams allow for a higher level of expertise on each individual product while still being flexible enough to provide support when other teams are understaffed or overwhelmed.
For example, one customer support rep’s main focus might be the support for the Finding Nemo game. Once they cleared the queue of emails they could then move on to help with the Club Penguin support (which was the main focus of Disney Interactive) or onto another product.
Pocket teams meant that support reps aren’t constantly jumping from product to product, where it could get confusing for the support rep. And could potentially waste time as the support rep needs to figure out which product they are in before even addressing the customer’s needs.
Onboarding New Support Reps
Because the same CRM is used across multiple products, when it comes to onboarding the challenge isn’t about teaching support reps a dozen different tools or even where to find the information they need to provide support.
Managers aren’t wasting time teaching different tools and instead can focus on the different products and how to best support each one. Once a rep is trained up on the tool, in many ways they are self sufficient to be able to search for answers to customers on their own. They don’t have to be experts in all the products, simply knowledgeable enough about the tool to know where to get the information.
Filtering and Auto Responders
When your company gets a flood of emails, all regarding the same issue there are a number of huge benefits to the CRM.
First of all, it allows you to filter by keywords. So every ticket in the system that’s related to that one issue gets filtered to the top of the queue. For major issues this becomes key. Because instead of taking 1-2 days to respond to some of those emails, you can do it within a few hours – they’re prioritized.
Plus, you can set up auto responses. If you have 1,600 emails in the queue, all related to the same issue that will take a long time for your support team to respond individually. “You can send out mass emails to the emails that all relate to the same issue. That will allow your team to focus on the 200 other emails that require a personal touch.”
Disney Interactive’s main product was Club Penguin, which was translated into 5 other languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and Russian). It meant that customer support also had to be available in those languages. Jenn Georgeson was on the French Language support team and was able to use the CRM to respond to both English and French emails.
CRMs are built to manage multiple languages. When a ticket comes in, they are filtered to different queues based on language. Allowing the specific language team to see only those tickets, without having to scroll through all the other tickets.
Some CRMs integrate with Google Translate. While this is not an ideal situation, “if an email comes in, in another language you still have to provide support.” It can allow your service rep to translate the email and hopefully get enough information to respond in English.
What CRM is right for your team?
“You need to work with the people who are currently using the system to determine what they need.”
The CRM system impacts your service reps jobs and how long it will take them to perform tasks.
One of the elements that Jenn found most useful was something as simple as keyboard shortcuts. “When you’re on a computer all day, keyboard shortcuts are really helpful for reducing strain on the hand and wrist from having to use the mouse.”
Jenn’s advice was to not look for the highest rated or the cheapest solution. Look instead for the one that works best for your team and that can grow with them.
“Support reps are more forgiving if they have to use 2 tools that do what they need. As opposed to 1 tool that only does half the job.” says Jenn
CRMs provide your support team with all the information they need in one place to properly respond to emails, live chat, and phone calls. They can reduce the time it takes for reps to respond to emails and makes it simple to pass or escalate the issue to another service rep.
Whether you have a team of 5 or a hundred, CRMs are a key element to ensuring your customers get the best support.
Final thoughts from Jenn Georgeson, “If I’ve had a tough week, and I can make one person’s day, that’s enough to make my week.”
About the interviewee
Jenn Georgeson has over 10 years experience working in customer service. She is a Client Success Specialist at Two Hat Securities and former Language Support Rep at Disney Interactive.