Interview With Brightpod

November 20th, 2014

Brightpod is a web-based project management and time tracking software for digital creative teams. They interviewed us this week and we want to share some of what we said:

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This week we feature Marvin Strauss, Customer Experience Guru at Reamaze. Reamaze is lightweight customer support software developed for small businesses.

In this interview, you can read more about his work at Reamaze, favorite marketing tools, productivity tips as well as his advice for budding marketers.


Your location: San Jose, California

Your favorite gadget:  Breitling Transocean (yes it’s a gadget)

You start your day with:  Raisin bran with vanilla soymilk

Your favorite time-saving trick: Ignore shit

Your top 3 blogs you read daily:  Anything on Medium. Signal v. Noise. Hondinkee.com because we’re all watch lovers.


“ We see customer service as opportunities to engage both current users and potential users. ”

Describe an average day at Reamaze?

I don’t think we really have an “average” day. Running a small team has its ups and downs but we focus our heads together when we need to and have fun when we want. We interact a lot with our customers during the day so a lot of our internal activities are spent on either building and shipping new things for customers, enhancing existing customer experiences, and/or fixing customers’ issues by internalizing their feedback. I guess you can call us a startup in that we’re young, energetic, small, and adequately funded, but there really isn’t a truly average day =).

As a marketer, what is your favorite productivity hack?

We use our own product! It’s a productivity hack in so many ways. In addition, we focus on three pretty simple productivity mantras.

1. Focus on the right things to work on and no wasting time on the wrong things.
2. Clear ownership is crucial. Too many stakeholders leads to “committee”, which leads to a lot of lost productivity.
3. Change a lot. What is productive now won’t last forever because everyone else catches on.

As a person who is well-versed with online marketing/ inbound, I’m sure you rely on a few marketing tools to automate your efforts. What are the top 3 tools you use?

We’ve always been big believers in earning customers rather than buying customers. Content marketing is pretty big for us and we use a variety of tools to reach out respective audiences. We rely heavily on our own blog for content distribution such as eBooks and infographics, HackerNews, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, and the whole shebang. More recently we’ve been testing out some new homegrown beta tools for this purpose.

Your company has a growing community of users. How do you use this treasure trove of customer insight to power your marketing efforts?

A few very early beta users of Reamaze know us for our business intelligence background. Very early versions of Reamaze showcased some of our segmentation, cohort analytics, and action-driven outbound messaging capabilities. We would tell you why we eventually decided to build customer support first but that’s another story entirely. The point is, much of what we do in marketing, targeting, and delivering the right features to the right customers is deeply rooted in our ability to understand our growing community of users. The conversations we have with customers is pure gold. And oh, word of mouth helps too!

What is your strategy for getting people to your site and then converting them to a customer?

A relentless attention to customer service. Most companies see customer service as a cost center, an entity within the “business” to minimize complaints. We see customer service as opportunities to engage both current users and potential users. It’s really no big secret… We just talk to them. At the end of the day, you need a great product but beyond that, it’s about getting users to believe in your vision. We also focus a lot on talking to specific niches of users. Developers are different from e-tailers so its important to know the right buttons to press in order to convert them.

Is there any advice you’d like to give to budding marketers to help them work smart and stay productive?

Every team is different and I doubt any single advice will be a one-size-fits-all. That said, I would advise startup teams to keep things simple. There’s nothing worse than spinning wheels for the sake of spinning wheels. Be creative and stop ogling at what other startups are doing to be successful. Brave your own path and execute on what works for you.


A big thanks to Marvin for taking the time out to answer these questions! If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you check out Reamaze.

 

 

All Your Customers Are Belong To You, Actually.

November 18th, 2014

10:00 AM.

Monday Morning.

I receive a message from a friend asking me about what the Gold level membership for a popular travel website actually gets you. I reply enthusiastically that the gold level get’s you access to early deals and better service. I am a gold member after all.

A few minutes go by and he replies:

Oh meh… looks kinda worthless. Basically means ‘oh now we will treat you like a customer’.

It struck me hard. He was right. A lot of businesses actually do this. They sell customer support, the illusion of good service, and the potential availability of weekend support as a premium benefit. We’ve been conditioned by the technology gap so much that being treated like a customer is somehow now a thing reserved for the “Souper Elite”.

Everything from online shopping, to airline frequent flyer programs, to car services at a dealership, and to whatever else you can think of are all moving to this  ”privileged” customer model. Where does that leave their “other” customers? You may genuinely believe the answer to be very complicated. And why not? Big spends on analytics and big data have told you empirically that those customers are NOT worth your time, effort, and “service”.

It certainly is a good question that we ourselves don’t actually have an answer to. All we know is this – All your customers actually belong to you. We listen and support everyone because even the one-man band out in the burbs of Bakersfield can give us an insight worth a million dollars.

Elite

Gamifying Your Support Team!

November 13th, 2014

Hey Reamazers. Today is a good day to be calling y’all Reamazers especially because we’ve just added some new and awesome meta features into staff reports. This is actually a joint effort between some of our power users and a little competition we’ve been having at the office.

It all started back in September 2014 when Pat started talking smack. Said smack was so outlandishly baffling that me, Marvin, and Mathias that we eventually ended up ignoring Pat for a good 2 weeks! We kid. But in all seriousness, Pat did stumble upon something interesting. We were subconsciously competing on who had the most appreciations from customers… Although some us reply more, we’ve noticed that more responses doesn’t always equate to appreciated responses.

Over the past few weeks, we decided to add in some more meta data into staff reports so we ourselves could have more visibility into our competitors. For example, we added:

and

We’re still crunching through some of our game stats but I’ll be the first one to claim that my speediness is more of a winning variable than Pat’s weak-sauce 12.5-hour average response time. Smack!

If you’re interested in having a little friendly competition, feel free to try what we’re doing and gamify your customer support team! Keep a whiteboard score or something :)

Gamify

 

Do You Even API, Bro?

October 26th, 2014

These guys most certainly do.

We love the peeps over at Idea Bits and their awesome products. Taking advantage of Reamaze’s API has allowed Idea Bits and their various properties to have complete control over their workflow in order to serve customers better. The Reamaze API truly allows you to go beyond what is already offered through our off-the-shelf integrations like the widgets for support and Livechat, embedded knowledge base, or embedded contact forms. The Reamaze API gives you deeper and more integrated access to your customer service data.

Idea Bits’ dynamic dashboard shows the number of unresolved issues by time across their brands. Green indicates less than 24-hours, yellow for more than 24-hours, and red for more than 48-hours. On the right are individual employee accounts that they route through Reamaze to track the same data. Idea Bits has also made it a priority to showcase this dashboard on a huge monitor in front of all their customer service employees.

If you have a great implementation of our API, we’d love to see it! We’ll make it a running series where we feature some of the latest and best configurations. And as always, we welcome feedback on our API and ideas on how to improve it. As of today, you can already to a great deal:

If you’re interested in some of Idea Bits’ products, feel free to check them out here:

Printful

StartupVitamins

Behappy.me

Do You Have Any Questions For Us?

October 18th, 2014

If you’ve ever conducted interviews or have ever been the subject of an interview then you know there is one question that always crops up toward the end. The employer will usually ask, “Do you have any other questions for us?” Our recommendation to all interviewees at this time is to always inquire about what the host company thinks about customer service. The answer can tell you a lot about the culture of a company and how that culture might influence your career many years down the road.

Most companies will probably say they value customers, that they take customer service seriously and customers always come first, or that they spend X number of hours training customer service agents. Other times, and only if you’re lucky, you might run into a reply that stands out from the rest. This is where you should pay attention. A few months ago while attending a dinner party hosted by an old college friend I had the opportunity to dust off the elevator pitch and start some conversations with strangers. At one point, I asked a startup from the Midwest about how they perceive customer service and how they plan on scaling operations. Here is a summary of their reply:

We try to be pretty innovative with customer service, meaning we try to navigate away from the old-school one-on-one customer interactions. At the end of the day, customer service is about staying ahead of problems. We do a lot of crowd-sourced customer service where we provide many different channels for customers to not only interact with us but with each other. We have a team of community evangelists that kinda moderate this environment. They basically act as a radar and sonar combo. This trains them to not just reply to problems but also trains them to listen and replicate how other community members are replying to certain problems. When we do need to reply, we will do so with short, direct, and precise answers so we can carve out more time to spend within the community. Even our CEO participates because it’s so much more fun. We’ve experimented quite a lot over the last few months and found that this not only saves a lot of time on actually replying to every inquiry but also on training and money. We don’t need to hire as many evangelists. The evangelists that we do have are also highly engaged because they’re part of a good community. This method has also allowed us to really pinpoint potential issues before they become real customer support problems. Moderators are really good sonars in this respect.

These guys are successful because they have a pretty awesome product. They’re also successful because they’ve spent time to think about customer service and what it means to build a loyal customer-driven community. It shows their culture, work ethic, and most importantly, it shows that they might be around for a long time because customers love them so much. So, if you’re on the line about whether or not you want to join a company, consider asking them about customer service. You just might be surprised about what you hear and possibly avoid working for a company that receives these:

Reamaze Livechat

October 7th, 2014

Reamaze Livechat has landed. Over the past few months we’ve been building out a brand new dimension of the Reamaze customer service experience: real time conversations with your customers. We’re super excited to be showing it off to you today.

Adding livechat to your business is a big deal. It’s an amazing sign of growth and the cornerstone of having a customer-centric service culture. Here at Reamaze, not only do we want to make that experience simple and integrated but we want to make sure your customers experience something seamless and intuitive. We’re applying all that we’ve learned to Reamaze Livechat so that it’s not just another feature but an extension to what you already love about Reamaze. For example, you can transition from Livechat to email with a click of a button and not lose any context of the conversation. This experience is even better for your customers.

Reamaze Livechat Features

  • Live dashboard and active notifications
  • One-touch on/off
  • Embedded Livechat via Reamaze.js
  • Typing status indication
  • Chat transcripts and permalinks
  • Custom user data
  • End-chat actions such as converting to email
  • Unavailability notification
  • And much more coming soon!

To find out more about Reamaze Livechat, please visit our getting started guide in our knowledge base located HERE.

Feature Enhancement: Article Sorting

October 7th, 2014

It’s been widely recognized that simply sorting KB articles by alphabetical or chronological order is not sufficient. We’re now introducing article sorting to Reamaze Knowledge Bases to help you sort like a pro. You can now sort to your heart’s desire on either the topic level or the article level. Enjoy!

The Not-So-Curious Case of Templates

October 5th, 2014

I learned this the hard way… A couple of years ago I accidentally pressed “SEND” on an templated email to all of our clients without filling in the placeholder for “Hi John”. As a results I addressed everyone as John. Embarrassments aside, I had to send another templated email just to apologize to all the “Johns” I’ve already offended. Fast forward to 2014 and I still can’t seem to figure out why businesses insist on using full-blown email templates for things like apologies and issues that require a bit more of human. It’s not only insincere and nonsensical, it’s simply not worth the business risk!

We had some downtime yesterday and a friend sent me a link to an article from August about United Airline’s handling of said templated emails:

Here at Reamaze, we’ve always discouraged the use of full-blown email templates. Instead, we encourage our users to focus on crafting personalized responses using only bits and pieces of relevant information. In fact, as I am writing this, I double checked to see if we had any response templates set up. Nope. We make sure every response we send is unique even if it means writing the same thing over and over again.

  1. Paragraphs of text that are applicable to everyone also means that it is uniquely applicable to no one. None of what you “template” is detailed enough or relevant enough for a thought-provoking conversation. Don’t over do it.
  2. If you’ve read our book you’ll recall a chapter which emphasizes your customers’ unique ability to smell bullshit. And if you’re well versed in modern technology, even you yourself will be able to decipher what’s genuine and what’s not.
  3. Accidents do happen and it’s really not worth it if you’re just trying to save a minute or two by using a templated email. Our infographic shows that a good customer support agent has about 25 high quality conversations a day with customers. Is saving a minute or two by using a templated email really worth it?

Granted, there are times where sending the same email to every customer is required. In these situations, opt for the newsletter announcement or update.

Yesh. We HipChat.

August 28th, 2014

If you’re like us, and by us we mean team-oriented superstars, then you’ve most likely used HipChat before. Like Slack, HipChat alleviates many common headaches we have around internal communications. It offers seamless transitions between internal and external conversations, a place to share important notes/files, and beautiful interfaces on both web and mobile. In other words, it’s everything a growing company needs to stay healthy and agile.

As we work to support more apps that businesses like us love, HipChat easily became the obvious choice for integration. Starting today, you will be able to feed incoming and outgoing support conversations directly into a HipChat room of your choice. Replies are automatically synced so no teammate will ever be left in the dark. The integration will also allow user-mapping to ensure everyone is accounted for in either accounts.

To get started, click on “Settings”, “Apps”, and then “HipChat”.

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Allow Reamaze access to your HipChat account.

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Complete the on-screen settings.

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Alternatively, you may find Reamaze in the “Integrations” panel under your admin account.

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We’re firm believers that customer support is simply about communications. The more effectively and efficiently we communicate with customers, the more meaningful our conversations will become. HipChat is another move in the right direction for Reamaze and we hope you’ll enjoy this integration! If you don’t already have a HipChat account, you can sign up for one here.

What Are Your Values?

August 19th, 2014

We think this is a good week to share something we just came up with as a team here at Reamaze. If you haven’t already done this as a team, we highly suggest gathering as a group and dig deep to reflect upon the values that are important to each f you. Values give what we do structure. They help keep us straight and true. Here are the values we uphold here at Reamaze.

Customer Satisfaction

We believe every customer interaction is important and an opportunity to breed continued engagement.  We strive to create value and make those who work with us happy.

Teamwork

Every team member is important.  We respect and value unique contributions and embrace diversity of opinions.  We work together and support each other to achieve our goals.

Growth

Our team members drive business growth by taking initiatives outside of their comfort zone.  We recognize team member accomplishments and celebrate even the smallest wins.

Adventuring Spirit

We challenge the stale, take risks, and think even beyond the space outside the box.  We are entrepreneurs committed to demolishing the stale competition. Together we blaze new creations and innovations.

Accountability

We value direct and transparent communication and a willingness to accept responsibility in decision making.  Our team members exercise independence and we learn from our mistakes.  Together we overcome challenges in our relentless pursuit of results.