The story of how I decided to unite and motivate the Cloud.ru technical support team
“Being a support engineer is quite a depressing process” – I heard this phrase at one of the conferences. Often work in technical support is associated with routine, monotony and communication with angry customers. In short, not a dream job for engineers. At the same time, it is important for specialists not just to fail, but to really help and leave the client satisfied.
I am Rinat Saitov – the head of technical support of the second line Cloud.ru. In the article, I will share my experience – how I managed to keep the team in good shape, increase excitement, cheerfulness and desire to help customers.
In the world of fierce competition, it is difficult to compete on the level of money and innovative technologies, so technical support (TP) and customer service come to the fore.
The structure of Сloud.ru technical support
Cloud.ru has four technical support lines. I will briefly tell about each of them:
L1 – accept, register and classify appeals, carry out initial diagnostics. Specialists process thousands of applications per month.
L2 – Analyze complex cases, process alerts from monitoring systems, perform routine infrastructure work, write automation scripts. The flow of applications is lower than the first line, about a few hundred applications per month.
L3 – are responsible for the operation of the infrastructure – eliminate accidents, eliminate mass failures, etc.
L4 — is responsible for a specific platform and its development. Collect customer requests for products and implement them (Feature Request).
Our second line solves complex customer requests, so it works on a small flow. As a rule, these are applications that require the reproduction of a client problem, analysis of logs or network traffic dumps. For example: with some periodicity, three to five packets do not reach the virtual machine, what’s the matter? The average time for the decision of the application by the team is 3 hours 20 minutes, we reduce it from quarter to quarter.
Technical support helps maintain customer loyalty. But how to understand if the team really helps, and if it does not work “for the tick”? Indirectly through indicators such as CSAT, CDSAT, CES, CSI, NPS. We monitor these important metrics, but I will not write about each of them in the article. Metrics are for managers, and employees keep the focus on customer centricity and helping customers.
How to measure the level of customer-centric support? We rely on a simple indicator – the number of “five-star” ratings given by customers. The more such ratings, the better.
In order to receive good ratings and comments, technical support engineers need to be in good shape) So we have several useful tools in our team.
Tools on their own mean nothing without a foundation. The basis is the right people. It is the right people who will help the manager, no matter what conflict he gets into. What you need to do to close the base:
Find the right people.
Give them the job they are best suited for.
Motivate and unite the team.
In this article, I will focus on the last point and share my team’s experience.
My team and I agree that customer service is like playing football.
In our case, the rules of the game were as follows:
The client scored 5 points – this is a goal;
5 points and a positive comment is a good goal (as Ibrahimovic scored against England on November 14, 2012 in the 91st minute with a shot through himself from almost the center of the field);
A customer has written a positive review without rating – this is a great moment;
The employee solved two bids and the client scored the highest score for the day – he issued a double, three bids – a hat trick, four – poker, etc.
In the beginning, we simply noted who “scored how many goals” in team meetings or email newsletters. Then we decided to make a dashboard in the application registration system – more on that below.
A question may arise: what did you do if you received a bad grade? There were no such cases this season. Yellow and red cards were covered with a noble layer of dust.
When I realized that gamification was good for the team, I decided to develop the topic of football further. Thus, an online dashboard appeared in the application registration system, which always displays the top 10 “players”.
Visualization not only motivates engineers, but also helps managers: the best technical support employees are in front of everyone, it is immediately clear who can be praised.
Later, we decided to track not only individual achievements, but also team-wide achievements: we set up a dashboard that shows the average rating of customers by team. In total, 9 teams of the second and first lines participate in the tournament. Good when there is someone to compete with)
As the teams got more serious later on, we needed some kind of symbol of victory. Now, opposite the best team, the crown is always flaunted, and experts compete to try it on.
I “saw” this idea at a speech by the development manager of a large Russian IT company. He told an interesting story: every two weeks they identified the best development team. Some earthly goods and a flag were due for this. A normal physical flag. There was a champion team that consistently received this award, but one fine day this symbol of victory went to another team. The champion team strongly disagreed. As a summary: they sneaked into the office at night and stole the flag.
It would be fine, but the average age of developers in this team was 40 years old.
Gradually, more and more teams join the competition, so we continue to develop this tool. They have already thought through and implemented the handicap (a system for balancing teams). Now teams and employees compete in various nominations: TOP trouble-shooter, TOP customer orientation, TOP tester, etc.
Fast dopamine. Curses
“How do we manage to get you to spend so much of your time and attention on us? We exploited the weak points of human psychology. We’re giving you a little dopamine injection” – Sean Parker, former Facebook CEO and board member.
Also, Anders Hansen in the book “On the Digital Needle” leads to the fact that cursing contributes to the production of dopamine – the hormone of joy. How can all of this be applied to motivate the support team? Light.
If the engineer gets a good rating from the client, and then also the approval of the team and the manager (injection of dopamine), then he will want to repeat this experience (get another dose). That’s why we set up a Telegram bot that sends messages about applications to the team-wide chat: no confidential information, just a message that the application has been evaluated or a new comment has been added:
I respond to every evaluation from the client: with a like, a sticker or gifs. Usually, I use one reaction to the application at a time and change them with some periodicity. As you can see in the screenshot below, the team also actively supports each other:
Focus on the customer, not metrics
It is important to show that your focus is on a specific direction and that you are in control of it: then the engineers will pay more attention to it and strive to improve it.
Since at Сloud.ru the focus is on client-centricity, I regularly review the applications of each specialist and find points in them that are worth praising. For example: the engineer quickly solved the client’s question, gave a super customer-oriented answer, put in extra effort (the client simply asked for data unloading, and the specialist added visualization).
When someone does something clearly better than others, we have a practice of sharing the knowledge with the entire team. For example, there is an engineer who knows how to get along with any client. I asked him to do a training session or give a speech. He created a presentation in which he reflected all the important points:
how to greet
how to ask, convince, thank,
how to maintain until the last
It is always useful to analyze examples from real cases that we encounter every day. Now we use this material during adaptation and training — newcomers get into work faster and show good results.
It is useful for everyone, and it is pleasant for the engineer. Thus, in some sense, we close the fourth level of Maslow’s needs – in respect and recognition)
The team always beats the group. (C) Igor Mann. Why? As you know, the productivity of a team is higher than the sum of the productivity of its individual members. Teamwork is exactly the muscle that technical support engineers need.
What distinguishes a team from a group? The team has a goal for which everyone is responsible. In our case, such a unifying goal was the challenge of something driving, energetic and ambitious.
We took the team’s best performance for the quarter and set a goal of improving it by as much as 90%. For the team, the introductory words sounded like this: to receive an average rating from customers of 4.96 out of a total of 100 ratings. This means that the engineers’ work had to be rated 96 times with five points and only four times with four.
As a result, we received:
86 ratings, 85 items – five stars, 1 item – four stars;
an average score of 4.98 (which remained until the end of the year).
Even though we didn’t reach 100, the team beat their best by 62%. Not bad, don’t you agree?
By the way, we got a score of 4 because the client was called Oleksandr instead of Vadim. They saw the mistake, quickly and sincerely apologized. Conclusion: “We need to be more thorough, more thorough” (c) Mykhailo Zhvanetskyi.
It’s great to see the desire to help the customer and good service take on a life of their own. Engineers themselves gather and discuss how to act in a particular situation. They figure out how to “beat the Boss” (keep a very sensitive customer who leaves only negative feedback satisfied).
Has the team always played this well? Of course not. When the client is dissatisfied, it is an occasion for further “training” and development. We are for long-term cooperation and strengthening of trust:
If we are not right, then we admit the error: we do not hide anything or smooth it over. As you know, the sword does not cut the guilty head. We try to apologize “correctly” (techniques from the book “Complaint as a Gift” help) and immediately offer a new solution and a plan for further actions.
If the client wrote angry messages via mail or chat, we suggest calling: discuss the problem by voice or create a video conference and show the diagnostic process.
We make a “replacement of players”: if the tension grows or the solution of the application has reached a dead end, then it is picked up by a senior engineer.
We regularly “analyze games”, learn from our own mistakes and try not to repeat them.
This concludes my story. If you try one of our “tools” and have a positive effect, I will be very happy. And if you share your chips and experience in the comments 👇, I will be doubly happy)
What to read
“Customers for life”. Carl Sewell
“Delivering happiness”. Tony Shy
“Hug your customers.” Practice outstanding service. Jack Mitchell
“Embrace your employees.” Vaccination from harsh management. Jack Mitchell
“Everything for the client.” Lee Cockerell
“On a digital needle”. Anders Hansen
“Deadline. A novel about project management”. Tom Demarco
“A complaint is a gift. How to maintain customer loyalty in difficult situations.” Klaus Möller
What else is useful in the blog: