A Paris-based SaaS business that went to $5M in ARR with amazing customer support team

This time we spoke with Marcel Filip, a Product Quality Assurance at Agorapulse a social media management software launched in 2012.  They got to $5M in ARR and are growing 80% per year. 

To start off, for those who don’t know Agorapulse, what do you do exactly?

Agorapulse is an all-in-one social media management tool. We allow users to monitor and handle conversations with their fans and followers, let them use our powerful publishing tool, get and export statistics for their social profiles and many more. Our users are solo marketing experts, as well as large agency teams, on the other hand.

How do you get your first customers to trust you?

We try to apply the principle where the priority is to help the customer first, of course, but on the other hand, let them know there is human on the other side. We try to talk to our customers as person to person, not as a provider to the client. We also try to be as transparent as possible, as well as being very fair – we often do much more than what we committed ourselves to, for example with refunds. All this together opens the doors and helps build confidence.

How does the support function looks like at your organization?

We have several support heroes who cover the support 24 hours a day, during weekdays. They deal with most of the incoming requests and their role is to help the client in the first place, be their point of touch and let them know there is always someone who will listen to them. Support person at Agorapulse must widely use common sense because that is sometimes far more important than experience or skills. Among those support heroes, we have a couple of more experienced team members, who deal with the advanced cases – their “job” is to be able to step back and analyze the big picture of the situation, as well as evaluate what future implications could this and that given case have on the product. Did client make valid feedback? Discuss it with Product manager then. Did client report some issue or bug? Discuss with Product QA.

What’s the role of self-help support in your support framework?

The role of self-help support is crucial, for two reasons. First, based on data, most customers want to get help on their own, before they actually get in touch with support. Second, it reduces the number of cases our support heroes need to handle. We use Support Hero because it allows us to have contextual self-help support tool, which helps users at the right moment they need it, with the answers they are most likely looking for.

 

What tools do you use?

Intercom, Support Hero, Google Suite, Workplace, Slack, FullStory

There are many things you can measure customer support employees on, but ultimately, there’s one metric that matters most. How do you measure the success of your support efforts?

Most important metric is the customer “happiness score”, as they call it in Intercom, our main tool. Customers can rate the conversation when it ends and based on this we measure their happiness. Agorapulse support has happiness score around 95% (customers who rated us with “happy” or “very happy”). We also measure the response time, but it is far less important to us than happiness score.

What have been the biggest roadblocks you had to overcome to provide great support?

The biggest challenge was to find the best people 🙂 Speaking of processes, I believe the biggest challenge was to have everyone on the same page – what I mean is all team members need to have access to the resources everyone else do have, all team members have to treat all cases in the same manner, all team members need to know when to ask for help, etc.

How to deal with an angry client? Can you give us one example form your career that sticked with you till now?

Well, angry clients are tricky 🙂 It depends on the situation, of course, but based on my experience, a first crucial thing is a transparency. As someone is already angry about an issue she is facing, you might calm the situation down a bit by showing the understanding and by clear communication on the matter. Second thing is to try to find a workaround until the problem she faces is resolved in a proper way. That helps a lot because it can reduce the level of frustration client feels.

How does your company ensure that all your support team members are all in sync?

Information is really the key and having them spread among the team, especially when it grows quickly, can be challenging. We found – by trying & failing – what works for us. We have daily morning sum-up of what has happened the previous day – everything that can concern support people is included. Then we have regular weekly calls/meetings, to keep everyone in the loop.

How do you or your boss empower everyone with internal support documentation?

At Agorapulse, the big challenge for us was to spread the knowledge and all the info among all team members. Support is very specific because support heroes need to know (almost) everything 🙂 Because of that, everyone in the team tries to share as much knowledge as possible – product manager, product QA, support manager, customer success manager, sales manager, etc. Each and everyone knows she needs to share the knowledge because it helps not only our team, but our customers too (they are treated much better, with much more relevant info, and more quickly). In practice, we use G Suite to share all the knowledge – known bugs, social networks API limitations, internal roadmap, release notes, internal docs with detailed info, etc. On top of that, our greatest support manager shares daily morning sum-ups which helps everyone to stay up to date.

Do you localize your support team? If yes, in which countries?

We provide support in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

What would be number one advice you will give to junior support manager before starting his or her position?

Take extra care and pay special attention when hiring your staff 🙂

One of the best ways to connect with prospects is by using stories from existing customers. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as saying “could you please provide a testimonial?”Sure, that’ll get you a testimonial, but it’ll probably be a weak, generic and canned-sounding blurb that won’t help you any more than not having testimonials. What makes a good testimonial?

In my opinion, for the testimonial to sounds authentic, it needs to contain real-world examples of what your customers use the tool for, the most, how it saves them time and money and what value it brings for them.

Where is customer support heading? How would you like it to change in the future?

I think it will be crucial for the support to “stay human” – to show there is a living person on the other side, to show empathy and to be able to make that extra step, beyond expectations, which can make users happy.

 

About the author: Marcel Filip is a Product Quality Assurance at Agorapulse. Experienced PQA professional with a 4-years history of working in the Internet industry. Master’s Degree in Economics from Masaryk University Faculty of Economics and Administration. He loves running and mountains, which resulted in his hobby in trail running. Since he like being in nature, he prefers medium to long distance runs. he also likes books, especially “reportage” kind of literature, which brings together fiction and non-fiction style of writing.

 

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