Posted by Aaron Wheeler
If you're reading this blog, congratulations! You are a customer of SEOmoz. I've probably personally spoken to at least a few of you, and provided help and support to many more of you. Have you ever wondered how SEOmoz supports 15,000 PRO members and over 250,000 free members and blog readers? After all, Roger can't personally answer every email we receive here. He's not Santa Claus! Instead, the six mozzers that make up the Help Team answer all of the emails, phone calls, and chat requests we get every day. I want to tell you a little bit more about them and give you a look at the way we've built the SEOmoz support channels to meet our overall goal: to provide the best customer service on the planet. It's a hard goal to reach, but I can't think of any more worthwhile endeavor.
The Help Teamsters
Crissy is old school! She came to SEOmoz in the spring of 2010. Back then, the Help Team was just Sarah Bird (our COO) and Crissy, and I joined soon after. She loves the fact that she’s been able to watch our team and SEOmoz grow since she started. Things are always changing with our site and tools, and as she says, it keeps us on our toes! Her favorite part of working at SEOmoz is the balance between fun and productivity that makes our team and company such an amazing place to work. Crissy spends her time helping users with their tool and billing questions, planning kick-ass Help Team outings (we made terrariums together last month), and helping the Marketing & Ops teams keep track of our weekly membership reporting.
When she’s not in the office, Crissy likes to take her son Sam on adventures around Seattle. She likes to sew up a storm, particularly to make clothes for her toddler (instant gratification, according to her). In the "warmer" Seattle months she rides her bicycle, named "Tom Selleck," to work and back.
Megan's been a help teamster for a little over a year now and loves connecting with our users. With several years of experience in customer service, she really strives to make every interaction with SEOmoz users a positive one. Besides responding to emails, calls, and chats, Megan plans and organizes our weekly software demos and investigates billing issues to keep any possible fraudsters at bay. She's also been known to do some writing, whether it be on the SEOmoz blog or in product messages throughout the site.
When not at the MozPlex, Megan likes to watch The Daily Show and Battlestar Galactica with her cat, Lily, and her awesomely-cool-fun-amazing neighbor across the hall, me! (Those are her words of course.) She also enjoys reading anything she can get her hands on (lately, it's been The Hunger Games series) and even started a library for the office. On weekends, she hangs out with friends (including lots of fellow Mozzers), goes dancing to anything from funk & soul to 90's hip hop, and cooks as much as possible.
Kenny joined up last year and is one of our few Washington natives! He grew up in a small, sleepy Northwestern town, thus is afraid of the sun. He compensates for a lack of natural energy sources by drinking copious amounts of black coffee. Kenny spends most of his time pursuing the TAGFEE dream by diagnosing tough technical issues, getting his hands dirty with a little web design, and filming each week's Whiteboard Friday.
He never wanders off too far away from his MacBook and for this reason alone his girlfriend mistakenly thinks he loves it more than her. It's probably because most of his spare time is spent designing websites or leaning about some fantastic new technology on the internet. He also loves the Daily Show, puppies, pizza, and tacos.
Nick joined our team in September last year and got up to speed lickety-split! Like the rest of our team mates, he answers customer emails, phone calls, and live chat questions. Nick has also spear-headed our new help documentation project that gives customers the resources learn anything about SEOmoz's tool set. This effort makes our company more scalable by answering customers' questions before they call, write, or chat with us, which gives them more instant gratification, as well. Needless to say, he spends a lot of his time creating screencasts and typing up FAQs. Nick has a passion for educating and helping others, so is constantly looking for new resources to show SEOmoz's customers.
Nick enjoys film, video games, reading, and cooking. He is an avid reader of anything from Eastern Philosophy to some of the nerdiest sci-fi/fantasy novels ever written. When not at work, Nick is usually spending time with his wife and partner in crime, Becky. On most nights, they cook new recipes together, play an unhealthy amount of Left 4 Dead 2 or Skyrim, and watch movies. On the weekends, Nick and Becky explore Washington and go to retro theaters. Nick is also involved in independent film-making and has produced, written, and directed a feature film and many shorts. On the sci-fi geek front, Nick has a huge collection of memorabilia from the Alien(s) films. He also has a cat named Ash after Bruce Campbell's character in the Evil Dead series. Of course, this means Nick calls her Evil Ash when she is bad.
Chiaryn is the newest edition to the team, having been here for about two months. Don't let that fool you though: she's caught up real quick-like! She's been doing customer service for a long time and is working on learning new things about SEO every day. What better place to learn, eh?
When she's not in the office, she likes to make art and take photographs. She's been working on a sketchbook that will be going on a national tour. She also likes to take trips around the beautiful Seattle waterfront with her camera. When she can, she tries to take candid portraits. Check out some of her artwork on her Art House Co-Op page. She's also an avid movie fan, with a particular love of horror movies, and reads as much as possible. In her words, she'll gobble up pretty much any nonfiction book you put in front of her. That's why we call her Turkey Miranda! Just kidding – that's not why we call her that.
If you've made it this far, you've probably figured out that this is me! I started at SEOmoz in the summer of 2010 and am loving every minute of being here. A couple months ago I became the manager of the Help Team, which means I do what I can to support the lovely members of our team, and provide our customers with the best service on the planet. It's a tough goal – we have very discerning customers – but a goal I think we can eventually fulfill. Some background: I studied sociology and cognitive science at UC San Diego, but starting doing SEO after graduating. Turns out that ranking for attorneys in San Diego is tough work! I left San Diego early 2010 for Seattle, and eventually found my way at SEOmoz.
Besides working at a place I love, I enjoy reading (currently Steve Jobs), watching great shows (currently my third run of Deadwood), and seeing my favorite bands in Seattle's historical music venues (this month: Junip, Nada Surf, and The Asteroids Galaxy Tour). I also enjoy trying out vegan recipes with my girlfriend, Holly Haymaker, who has the coolest name in the world and a whimsical interactive e-cards site, to boot!
What Do We Do?
You know how, sometimes, you have a question about our site and tools? Or about your account or payment? We're the people you call, email, live chat, and post to our help forums for. Unlike huge companies with call centers and many tiers of support and different people doing phones and chats, though, everyone on our team does everything. It's a great way to keep everyone fully informed about site issues and keep our support fresh and agile. That's not all we do, though! Let me show you all of the ways we keep our customers happy:
Email: Using a Robust Ticketing System
When you send an email to email@example.com, it gets forwarded to our ticketing system. We use ZenDesk, the same help desk software used by companies like Groupon and Box.com. ZenDesk allows us to manage customer emails, assign them to specific people, and easily share them with engineering and product so we can get answers to questions quickly! This is important because we receive over 2,000 emails a month: way too many to respond to from a single email address effectively.
How Does It Work?
When we receive an email, the sender gets an email back with a ticket number. As you see, it gets added to our queue of tickets to reply to. We try to answer 80% of tickets within 8 hours, but if it's a situation where someone has a billing problem or can't access their account (lost password, etc.), we try to answer even faster than that. Our goal is for each member of the Help Team to answer 20 tickets per day. If we don't have the knowledge to answer a question, we'll send the ticket to our engineers and product managers to get an answer. If it's a bug, we let the customer know and open a bug fix with our Triage team. They assign the bug to an engineer, who fixes it and lets them know. Triage sends it back to us when it's fixed, and we email the customer and close the ticket.
When we close a ticket, we send a one-question survey through SurveyMonkey asking how happy we made a customer with our customer service. We try to make 90% of our customers happy, and 30% of our customers delighted. Sometimes, though, we fail to satisfy a customer. When this happens, we ask for the customer's email address and ticket number so we can get in touch and make it right. I've found that when a customer has had a bad experience, reaching out to them to make it right almost always turns the situation around.
Phones: Not a Phone Bank
We get a relatively small amount of calls at SEOmoz: about 100 to 150 a week. Makes sense, as most SEOs do their research online. =) We don't have a sales team and don't do phone marketing, so the only employees that really have phones here are in Operations or the Help Team. We get a lot of calls from potential customers asking about what we do, though we do get a few from PRO members, too. Here's a chart with our phone stats for last week:
How Does it Work?
When a person calls in to SEOmoz, they usually start out talking to Hillari, our fantastic office manager. She makes sure they're not a spambot and, when they're a lovely customer, transfers them to the Help Team pool. The first available person picks it up and starts helping! Pretty straightforward process, as you telephone users know. After the call is over, we try to create a ticket and follow up with the customer to make sure they had all their questions answered. If it's an SEO question, we refer them to the Q&A or to our list of recommended SEO consultants.
Live Chat: What You Need, When You Need It
When potential customers are browsing our software sales pages, they often have questions they want answered now. Same thing goes for existing customers with questions about a payment or their account status: these are the kinds of questions people want to know the answers to quickly. Live Chat comes to the rescue! Instead of requiring a customer to call or send in an email, we usually keep someone logged into Live Chat throughout the day so customers can get help immediately. This leads to happier customers and cuts down on our ticket and phone levels. We use the awesome chat widget SnapEngage, and installed it to a few choice pages.
How Does it Work?
Kenny coordinated with SnapEngage to create a custom view of the widget. When you click "Chat Now," it pops up a dialog box that displays three FAQs, and has a field for the email address of the customer and the question they have. When they've typed those in, all they have to do is click "Message" to open a ticket, or "Live Chat" to start talking! Interesting point: we didn't always have those three FAQs. Adding them reduced chats about these topics about 90%. Yay for preemptive answers!
After we finish chatting with a customer, the chat transcript is automatically added to ZenDesk as a ticket, where we can save it for future review and for long-term tracking. We can also follow up with a customer there. If we're offline, or if a customer chooses the "Message" option instead of the "Live Chat" option, it creates a ticket from the get-go instead.
We can also track the types of computers and browsers people are using when they chat with us, which helps us diagnose the issue faster and get an idea of what our average customer needing immediate support looks like. The chart to the left is a look at last month's chatters.
Forums & Documentation: Help More People More Quickly
We maintain both our customer service and API forums through the SEOmoz help desk. We've also started adding all of our tool documentation, videos, and walkthroughs here to make them all available in the same place. This makes our Help Desk a one-stop shop for looking at frequently asked questions, checking out known issues with the site or tools, and just generally getting more knowledgeable about how to use a PRO subscription to its fullest. It's also where we ask customers to submit feature requests.
How Does it Work?
When a customer has a question, they can go to our Help Desk and do a search for the answer, or browse existing questions and documentation. Many of the forums are straight-up questions and answers, but a lot of them are longer-form pages that are part of our documentation project. We want to document the bejewels out of our tools! Yes, there will always be questions from customers, but the more information you can put in their hands early on, the more happy they'll be, and the more scalable our service becomes.
One cool feature: the Feature Request Forum has a voting system so customers can vote on the features they want to see most. Our product team reviews this feedback to get an idea of what to prioritize and what to put further down the roadmap. It's a great way to get customers more involved in SEOmoz's future!
This, That & The Other: Events, Office Tours, Webinars, Demos, Cookies…
We do a bunch of other stuff to help our customers, and it's hard to get it all down in words! We give weekly software demos to help new customers get the most out of PRO,
represent at MozCations,
give tours of the MozPlex and help out at MozCon,
and bake plenty of cookies (you gotta help your fellow mozzers out, too!):
All in all, it's a wonderful life. SEOmoz has the best customers around, and there's no other place I'd rather be. I'd love to share more with you and hear your stories about great customer service, as well as get feedback on what you'd love to see more of in the customer service biznez. Please feel free to write me in the comments, shoot me an email, or tweet me at @aaron_wheeler. See you around the site!
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